ARCHDALE — The year 2020 brought with it countless consequences of a pandemic, but the planning process continues for a city in the midst of a transition from a quaint place with a small-town feel.
Archdale city planners spent the last 365 days creating the blueprint for what the next chapter might hold. A three-day series of placemaking workshops last January brought residents to city hall for a discussion on how to build a town center.
Public meetings were followed by collaborative break-out sessions where drawings and city maps were discussed. The second and third meetings built upon the first, and ultimately, the vision became incrementally clearer.
Then after March 12, everything seemed to stop.
Schools went remote, sports went on sabbatical, city and county offices closed, meetings went online and businesses closed their doors — some for the final time. Even elections were impacted by a virus that is still taking lives.
In the midst of all of it, one of the area’s hospitals announced that it had filed a petition for relief under Chapter 11 Bankruptcy. Randolph Health later finalized an agreement that would facilitate the acquisition of all of the hospital’s operating assets. It continues to serve residents in the quest to ward off COVID-19.
For months, Zoom meetings became the new office and the morning commute was measured in feet instead of miles. Graduations were held, but the Class of 2020 had the most unique sendoff of any in modern memory.
Summer wore on and residents wore the mask to protect themselves and others.
Unemployment numbers gradually receded from the double-digit level they reached earlier in the year. Even as restaurants and gyms began reopening, festivals and parades were cancelled as the pandemic raged on.
As fall arrived, however, institutions and traditions came back online. Athletes across the state returned to play after an eight-month layoff, as the North Carolina High School Athletic Association saw its first action since the COVID-19 pandemic arrived.
Archdale City Council reconvened to determine the next measures, harkening back to earlier meetings when retail was discussed at length, and how to be sensitive to existing businesses and homes was a concern expressed by multiple residents. Other concerns included how to make the Main Street corridor more walkable and how to make areas more inviting for residents and visitors to frequent businesses.
Plans remain ongoing for these and other issues, and City Manager Zeb Holden is optimistic that headway has been made, even during the pandemic.
“We were not blessed with a perfect downtown that can be revitalized and make loft apartments in former industry buildings,” Holden said. “We’re a young town. We just don’t have that place … but if we come to some consensus, adopt a plan and stick to it, you’re going to start seeing that momentum.
“We’re going to build toward something that our children are going to be proud of.”
Staff writer Daniel Kennedy can be reached at 336-888-3578, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.