Nearly 30 people were at the Art Center Monday night for a community workshop built around N.C. Arts Council’s SmART Initiative, the state-run economic development program that inspired the mission of the SmART Kinston City Project Foundation.

As one of five SmART Cities, Kinston is putting together a plan for enhancing downtown connectivity through public art. A steering committee selected Vicki Scuri of Seattle to create a vision reimagining the Queen Street corridor, Arts & Cultural District and Grainger Stadium areas for a new generation of Lenoir County visitors.

The timing of the Queen Street repaving project has presented opportunities to marry N.C. Department of Transportation efforts with wayfinding and placemaking concepts throughout the existing city center.

City Manager Tony Sears said the new Queen Street will have two lanes and angled

The Vicki Scuri Siteworks team talks with Nancy Trovillion of the N.C. Arts Council and SmART Board Chairman Stephen Hill on Jan. 24, 2017.

parking, but it won’t be repaved until the city completes its work on water infrastructure beneath the road.

“A lot of the water’s already been done,” Tony said Monday. “What’s left is South Queen.”

Tony added that while the city hasn’t yet gotten a schedule or estimate for when the work could be complete, there is interest in synching the project with the ideas that come from the SmART Initiative.

“The city doesn’t have a timeline,” he said. “We want it to be one project”

Vicki said much of the inspiration for the plan will come from the character of Kinston and its people, who she said impressed her with their forthrightness about what they want to see in their city.

Nancy Trovillion, deputy director of the N.C. Arts Council, said the strong response from the community was a good indicator of the creative energy that qualified Kinston as a SmART City in the first place.