By David Rogers. August 8, 2017. BLOWING ROCK, NC — Just say “no” — that was the message of the Blowing Rock Board of Commissioners Tuesday night to the question of whether or not Blowing Rock should host an early voting site between October 19th and November 4th before the official, November 7th Election Day.
With a price tag of more than $7,000 to fund an early voting venue, when push came to shove the Commissioners just couldn’t justify the expense based on the near absence of demand for the service, historically. Town Manager Ed Evans reported that at the last election, only 29 Blowing Rock residents voted early in Boone, and of those more than half (17) were absentee votes.
Evans noted that the election already costs the Town of Blowing Rock approximately $4,000 for the Election Day facility in staff, security and equipment. An early voting site would cost and additional $400+ per day.
After special reports by Maymead Construction’s Kipp Turner on the U.S. 321 widening project and an informal “state of the state” presentation by North Carolina Senator Deanna Ballard, the Commissioners wasted little time in cruising through the light August agenda.
There were a couple of questions for clarification, but the Commissioners quickly passed an amendment to the golf cart ordinance to permit golf carts to cross Valley Blvd. to and from Possum Hollow Rd. at Tanger Shoppes on the Parkway. They reiterated that no carts are allowed to use Valley Blvd. in either direction, but with the ordinance will be free to cross Valley Blvd. at Green Hill Rd./Rock Rd. (existing), Sunset Dr. (existing), Possum Hollow Rd. (new) and South Main St./Skyland Dr. (as soon as the signal goes in at the intersection).
While the golf cart issue was the only public hearing, three items of new business received attention, including the dismissed early voting site. The other two topics of discussion included a 1500 square foot storage building behind the Water Treatment Plant that requires repair or demolition. While Town Staff recommended renovation of the existing building at a cost of between $30,000 and $50,000, Town Manager Ed Evans was instructed by the Commissioners to come back with specific alternatives, i.e. Plan A, Plan B, and Plan C, and their estimated costs and alternative benefits.
A Pubic Art Policy was also discussed briefly, but referred to an upcoming joint meeting of the Blowing Rock Planning Board and the Blowing Rock Appearance Advisory Commission.
In the Manager’s Report, Evans noted that while staff understood the importance of striping Green Hill Rd., there are safety concerns for the town employees until the U.S. 321 project is completed (hopefully, by mid-autumn) because Green Hill Rd. is being used by so many people as an alternate route to get through town.
He also shared that BRAAC and the Planning Board would be meeting on August 17th to primarily discuss the proposed Sunset Gateway project and the updated Memorial Park tree removal report that should soon be received from the North Carolina Forest Service.
Commissioner Jim Steele added a non-agenda item for research and consideration of his Board colleagues: what he perceives as traffic bottlenecks just east of Main St. on Sunset Drive. The issue may also be taken up at the BRAAC/Planning Board meeting for possible discussion in conjunction with the Sunset Gateway proposal.
“There is concern about the narrowness of the street,” Steele said. “It is creating bottlenecks, especially on busy days, that has repercussions for traffic on Main Street. I want us to look at all vehicles: cars, delivery trucks, motorcycles, golf carts and baby carriages! It is a problem that I think we need to address with a sense of urgency.”
With the Consent Agenda, the Council approved the purchase of certain capital equipment at a cost exceeding $400,000 and approved the financing bid presented by SunTrust Bank.