LINCOLNTON – Take a drive around Lincolnton and see if you don’t see some interesting and thoughtful additions. Over at First Federal Park there’s an artistic bike rack and an iron artwork fence. There’s a twin bike rack on the south side of the courthouse lawn. At the entry way to Ramsour’s Battleground on Jeb Seagle Drive is a monument to the battle. Along the South Fork River in Betty Ross Park is a river launch. Colorful banners along Main Street change with the seasons. On Highway 321 there’s welcome signage. Some of the newer additions include Rivoli Movie Theatre Mural at the welcome center on East Water Street, the Compass Rose at the downtown Courthouse traffic triangles, shade sails at First Federal Park and the reusable Christmas tree in front of the courthouse.
All of these projects have been done either completely by or with contributions from the Lincolnton Tourism Development Authority. The authority all started with Lincolnton resident Carol King who didn’t think Lincolnton “was very pretty.” After several meetings and discussions, the Lincolnton City Council voted to form the Lincolnton Tourism Development Authority. This was in February 2015 and King was selected to be the chair. The chair currently is Angela Lovelace.
The mission of the organization is to promote travel, tourism and conventions within the City of Lincolnton and to sponsor tourist related events and activities in the city and finance tourist-related capitalist projects. These projects are funded through room occupancy taxes, not through taxpayer dollars.
The tourism authority also helps fund events in Lincolnton such as the Comicon and the Apple Festival, advertising with “Our State Magazine” and tourist brochures for Lincolnton. There are new projects on the horizon such as the East Sycamore Patio which will be located on north side of Court Square, next to Zhay's.
“Carol and I looked at that space and kept thinking that should be something,” Lovelace said. “We went to Ritchie (Haynes) and brought it up to tourism. We got the funding for the project.”
This will be a city-owned patio that residents and visitors can use while they’re walking around town. Lovelace is working on getting furniture for the patio.
“We’ve focused on the other side of the courthouse with the Rivoli Movie Theatre mural and the Compass Rose,” Lovelace said. “People have complained about the size of the Rivoli Movie Theatre mural, but it’s that size for a reason. A fire escape is going to be installed above it so the second floor of that building can be utilized.”
Other new projects include ongoing maintenance of the Main Street planters, a patio area at the bottom of the stairs from Main Street on the Rail Trail and a small performance area on the bank at First Federal Park, as well as Christmas lights and decorations for First Federal Park.
The patio area project on the Rail Trail was King’s idea.
“When you go down the stairs from Main Street, there was this big hole that was always filled with nasty water,” she said. “It was ugly. As I’d walk the trail, people would tell me that they didn’t like going through the tunnel because it was creepy. I never thought that, but some people do. I thought if you could take to the edge of the stairs, chop into the bank and make a retaining wall all the way to the end of the block. Then it could be paved and made into a plaza. Work is supposed to start this fall.”
These projects, most of which were initially driven by the LTDA or through request from nonprofit organizations in the city, are done for the benefit of residents but are also designed to encourage visitors to the downtown area.