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Grant aids downtown Linden project

LINDEN – A transportation grant designed to beautify downtown Linden has left some local business owners wondering where the beauty is, but new Linden mayor Mitzi Gates says it’s coming.

At her first city council meeting as mayor Monday night, Gates took a few minutes to talk directly about a project that has seemed to move at a snail’s pace.

“I would like to thank our business owners for being patient with the progress,” said Gates. “I know at times that is very difficult, and we would never want to do anything, while we are making civic improvements, to hinder them from doing business.”

Gates was referring to work being done to improve the city’s drainage system along U.S. Highway 43. Part of a $300,000 downtown beautification project for Linden, the construction has made bulldozers and backhoes an everyday sight in front of Langley’s Shell Station, Papa’s Foods and Two of a Kind.

“These business owners have been great with being patient with us,” said Gates. “They have a right to be disheartened to have waited for so long for it to be through. We are doing the best we can, but are at the mercy of the contractor.

“In the end I think it will really look good. We certainly look forward to moving on to the next phase soon. It’s a great opportunity for Linden to make a positive impression on people coming to our city.”

Originally scheduled to be complete by December, the bulk of the project is actually just getting under way.

Once the drainage improvements are complete, sidewalks will be worked on and 150 crepe myrtles will be planted along the four city entrances.

“Wheelchair-accessible ramps will be created where needed, or existing ones repaired, and wrought-iron hanging baskets and planters will be added along the sidewalks.,” Gates said.

Gates said the area directly in front of Papa’s Foods would have the most noticeable change.

“I want us to look for more ways to find opportunities to make sure people who come through Linden on these well-traveled highways get the picture of what Linden really is,” she said.

“We want our city to look as charming as the people really are. It does matter, especially when trying to attract new business growth. No matter where an industry locates in our county, it benefits Linden.”