The main thoroughfare through downtown Smithfield will get brighter now that the Town Council has agreed to spend nearly $57,000 on lights for trees along Market Street.
The $56,564.84 to purchase and install the lights comes from a $96,107 state downtown revitalization grant. Both the town’s Appearance Commission and Downtown Smithfield Development Corp. ranked tree lighting as the No. 1 priority among wish lists of potential projects.
Increased lighting would improve the appearance of downtown Smithfield and make the area appear safer to patrons, Sarah Edwards, executive director of the Downtown Development Corp., said in a letter to Smithfield’s interim town manager.
“We all have visited cities with this kind of lighting in their downtown areas, and the impact was amazing,” Peggy Scott, Appearance Commission chairwoman, said in a letter to the council. “The lights made their cities safer and more inviting for public use, downtown festivals, restaurants and businesses, as well as citizens and guests.
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“Imagine our Christmas parade and Ham & Yam, Wine Walk with this additional beautification.”
The council voted unanimously to approve moving forward with the lighting project, but tabled any further decisions on how to spend the remaining $39,542.16.
Other recommendations from the groups included:
▪ New and enhanced sidewalks along the 100 block of South Third Street, which Scott said “are in desperate need of repair.”
▪ Resurfacing the parking off of Market Street between Wells Fargo and Simple Twist restaurant. At its meeting on Tuesday, the Town Council decided to take on that project with other state dollars.
▪ Greenway enhancements such as benches, water fountains and picnic tables.
▪ A downtown wayfinding system, including two downtown gateway signs and seven smaller signs.
The council set no timeline for installing the lights on Market Street trees or for spending the remaining downtown grant dollars. But town staff advised the council to spend the money soon lest state lawmakers take the money back or change the rules for spending the money.
“We need to get moving on this,” said Jim Freeman, interim town manager.
Abbie Bennett: 919-553-7234, Ext. 101; @AbbieRBennett