By David Rogers. August 30, 2017. BLOWING ROCK, NC — In a special Wednesday night meeting, Blowing Rock’s Town Council approved building a wall and it involves neither Mexico nor Donald Trump.
COVER IMAGE: The retaining wall behind Town Hall is in need of repair or replacement. All photographic images by David Rogers for Blowing Rock News.
Thanks to a surprise grant from the North Carolina Department of Commerce at the initiative of NC State Senator Deanna Ballard and Representative Jonathan Jordan, the Blowing Rock Board of Commissioners had $50,000 to spend and not very long for Town staff to get the paperwork done if they waited until the next regular Council meeting to identify and approve a project.
Hence, Town Manager Ed Evans told the Council members in his opening remarks Wednesday night, the need for a special session. “The deadline for filing our proposal is September 14th, one day after your next meeting,” Evans explained.
Evans noted that the money is certain, with very few exclusions for what it can be used. Examples, he shared, were infrastructure needs and beautification projects, among others.
After listing eight “ideas” for projects devised by Town staff, Evans invited the Commissioners to adopt one of those or suggest something of their own. At the suggestion of Commissioner Ray Pickett, the board dismissed the repair of a water problem along the back wall of the old fire station as well as implementation of parts of a design advanced by a Virginia Tech University study, “…because those things should be done at the same time,” Pickett noted, “to be more efficient and we haven’t really discussed (the merits of) the Virginia Tech design plans yet.”
Commissioner Jim Steele suggested that repairs to the old building at the back of the water treatment plant and a storage building at the Public Works site merited strong consideration. Commissioner Sue Sweeting countered that she would like to see the money used for something that more people actually see.
In the end, a compromise of sorts was reached, to repair or replace the retaining wall and some new pavement or pavers underneath the picnic shelters, all immediately behind Town Hall. The vote was 4-1, with Steele the lone “no” vote.
Other suggestions for projects not related to the Virginia Tech study included a Main Street sidewalk in front of Speckled Trout and the parking lot beside the restaurant, prospectively all the way to Hill St., and repair of the sidewalk along Shelton Place.
The next regularly scheduled meeting of the Blowing Rock Board of Commissioners is Tuesday, September 13, 2017, at Town Hall.