Hamlet looks to complete City Lake trail loop


By Kevin Spradlin

ROCKINGHAM — One of Hamlet’s newest employees said the city is in the early stages of seeing if the City Lake trail can come full circle.

Chuck McShane, who began work on Jan. 21 as the city of Hamlet’s downtown coordinator and curator for the Hamlet Depot, said city officials discussed the matter in a recent public budget meeting.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com

The paved trail current starts by the caboose on one end of the lake and parallels Lakeside Drive past the Hamlet Senior Center, the former VFW Post 7314 and ends at a covered grill roughly two-thirds of a mile away near the Hamlet Parks and Recreation ballfields. The trail also passes the monument dedicated to veterans of all wars and to those who lost their lives in the terrorist attack on Sept. 11, 2001.

McShane mentioned this project and others on Monday as featured speaker at the monthly meeting of the Rockingham Downtown Corporation. He acknowledged the trail would be a long-term project based on financing and a swamp-like area at the far end of the lake near Marks Creek.

“We really want to complete that loop,” McShane said. “Then, in the future, tie across the tracks to Main Street. We’re looking for funding on it.”

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com

An unofficial draft version of what the completed loop could be measures the distance at about 1.75 miles, or roughly two and one-half times the current length.

Opera House restoration

* Take virtual tour here

Former museum manager Miranda Chavis and wife of Mayor Bill Bayless, Linda Bayless, spearheaded the start of the renovation and restoration of the former Hamlet Opera House on Main Street. The historic building is about 102 years old.

McShane hopes to see it to the next step but acknowledged the project would cost “millions” and noted that like the trail, the Opera House project is in the “very early stages” of going anywhere. Last year, the mayor and City Council pledged $50,000 to the project but did not transfer funds from any one year’s budget for the restoration.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com A view of the Hamlet Opera Stage as it is today.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
A view of the Hamlet Opera House stage as it is today.

Community garden

McShane has literally bought into the Richmond County Cooperative Extension Office’s community garden at Steele Street in Rockingham, and he hopes to bring the idea to Hamlet. McShane said he has a $500 commitment from the Seaboard Festival committee to start on the project at a vacant lot on Hamlet Avenue down from Richmond Upholstery.

The lot became available when the city tore down the former structure due to code enforcement issues.

McShane said his office is “taking commitments now” for spots but won’t begin accepting money for individual buy-in until July 1.

Facade grant program

McShane said he and city officials also have discussed the possibility of a facade grant program that could offer business owners within city limits funding to spruce up their building exteriors. The town of Cheraw has a similar program.

In Hamlet, McShane said he’s asked for $5,000 to be set aside. The budget process for Fiscal year 2016 is on-going and will be completed on or before June 30.


Filed in: Featured News, Hamlet, Latest Headlines, News, Outdoors

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