The Town of Hope Mills recently got good news and bad regarding its Parks and Recreation Trust Fund Grant.

The grant, which will help fund planning for pedestrian walkways in the central area of Hope Mills, was scheduled to be presented to the state by the McAdams group on behalf of the town earlier this month.

The North Carolina Department of Transportation gets to pick which firm handles consulting work on the grant, and the good news for Hope Mills is it already had a longstanding relationship with McAdams.

But according to town manager Melissa Adams, there’s a downside to the future of developing the pedestrian plan.

Because of the COVID-19 crisis, people aren’t driving as much as they used to, which has cut into a lot of funding that DOT receives from sources involved with travel.

The bottom line is, if there’s a shortfall in funding this month, that could mean the planning for the Hope Mills pedestrian project could be delayed, which further means the actual start of the construction phase of the pedestrian project would also be set back.

Chancer McLaughlin, who is the development and planning administrator for the town, is trying to maintain a positive outlook on the situation and remains hopeful there won’t be a significant enough shortage of money to force the implementation of the design plan to be delayed.

“One of the ideas we are going to push with this plan, which I think will be groundbreaking, is to see about the facilitation of a greenway that connects the (old) golf course to Trade Street,’’ McLaughlin said.

Sidewalks are in the works from Town Hall on Rockfish Road to Johnson Street down to Trade Street, McLaughlin said. The greenway plan would complete a loop and link neighborhoods to the back side of the former golf course.

“Now you have something more impactful from a pedestrian standpoint,’’ McLaughlin said. “People can walk from the golf course to Town Hall, and from Trade Street to the lake. All through pedestrian avenues, greenways and
sidewalks.’’

McLaughlin stressed that the money that has already been allocated will go to funding the creation of an overall plan for the proposed pedestrian upgrade, there is no money to pay for building the new walking area itself. “Once they come up with a plan, we’ll have to come up with funding for construction,’’ he said. “This is strictly for design.’’

While there is a potential for delay in the pedestrian project, McLaughlin said town growth is doing well otherwise — in spite of the pandemic.

The new Chick-fil-A restaurant had a successful opening recently, taking drive-through customers only, as the state’s regulations designed to protect against spread of COVID-19 continue.

Another opening is expected to be held in the near future as the new Biscuitville franchise has wrapped up construction. McLaughlin said he was initially informed Biscuitville was planning for a summer opening, hopefully after the COVID-19 situation improves. There has been talk the opening date could come earlier, but McLaughlin said he had heard nothing concrete.

Otherwise, McLaughlin said town business is going well and he’s gotten numerous requests for construction permits.

“The staff is doing everything we can to be as innovative as we can during this pandemic, so we can keep things in some sort of normalcy until we can get back to our regular schedule,’’ he said.

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