By David Rogers. September 11, 2019. BLOWING ROCK, NC — Blowing Rock’s Board of Commissioners learned they had a Pickleball problem in Memorial Park, but otherwise it was a pretty light agenda for the regular monthly meeting of Town Council.
The only “major” decision was approving a request by Ray and Melissa Pickett of Blowing Rock Inn to install a sculpture on the lawn in front of their lodging business. Everything was in keeping with the relatively new Public Art Policy, so the request was approved unanimously by the Board.
If anything resembled drama for this Council session, it came in the opening minutes, during “Speakers from the Floor.”
Several individuals leading the charge for improved Pickleball conditions for the courts in Memorial Park spoke, largely advocating that the lower basketball court be converted to three permanent Pickleball courts. One resident stated that she is in charge of communications for the Pickleball enthusiasts and that she now has 120 people she is keeping informed about the Pickleball schedule by email, and another 80 by text message. She reported that while they started playing twice a week, now they are playing Pickleball in the park seven days a week and that each of the three temporary courts is being utilized full-time, often with people waiting to play. Their major concerns:
- CONVENIENCE: Having to lug the (heavy) temporary nets to and from the courts each day for setup
- PUBLIC SAFETY: The absence of a fence along a long walkway on one border of the courts. “When anyone is walking on that sidewalk, whether adults or small children, all three courts have to stop play until they have completed the walk across.”
Among their suggestions is to relocate the two basketball goal posts to the upper court. “We often observe that rather than fullcourt games, much of the basketball usage is dads playing H=O-R-S-E or just shooting hoops with their children and that the lower court where we are is not used very often for basketball.”
Except for Commissioner Virginia Powell interjecting that the Blowing Rock School 8th graders often use both courts for basketball, the Council members were relatively quiet throughout the comments by four Pickleball enthusiasts.
Also during the speakers from the floor segment, a Green Hill Rd. resident lamented the fact that speeds along the road are especially excessive in the long straightway between Wonderland Dr. and the first curve (south). He estimated that some cars are travelling at speeds in excess of 50 mph through that residential neighborhood, then added that enforcement alone would not remedy the problem because he knows that the Town Police cannot have a car out there all the time.
Green Hill Circle resident Betsy Wilcox brought some levity to an otherwise serious discussion when she reported that she travels that stretch almost every day to visit her sister in the Foley Center. Wilcox admitted that she has caught herself going too fast in that very stretch, but that when there were some flashing lights there, they reminded her to slow down. She suggested that permanent flashing lights be installed there.
Besides the Blowing Rock Inn public art request, the other Business Matters portion of the agenda included:
- A report by Finance Director Nicole Norman on financing arrangements for previously budgeted capital items, principally vehicles
- Norman’s monthly financial report
- An update by Planning Director Kevin Rothrock on the work of the Ad Hoc Committee charged with studying Valley Blvd.’s potential development.
On the last item, Rothrock reported that the Ad Hoc Committee had solicited bids from professional planning firms for looking at the pertinent issues and opportunities on Valley Blvd., receiving three bids ranging from as much as $300,000 to Benchmark Consulting’s committee-recommended low bid of $20,000, which the committee will formally bring to the Board for approval.
EDITOR’S NOTE: We continue to feel that while as much as $20,000 was previously budget by the Board of Commissioners to potentially hire an outside consultant for this project, it is misspent taxpayer funds. In summary, this mission should more rightfully be under the auspices of the Planning Board, as well as a part of the 5-year review of the 2014 Comprehensive Plan. The only reasonable result by any body looking at Valley Blvd. development is to suggest changes to the Land Use Code that would specifically address building and improvements along that thoroughfare. We don’t need to spend $20,000 of taxpayer money to reach those conclusions. By forming this ad hoc committee, the Board of Commissioners are usurping the role of the Planning Board and unnecessarily wasting public funds. CLICK HERE to read our earlier editorial penned on July 9th.
The September meeting of the Blowing Rock Board of Commissioners was adjourned at approximately 7:15 pm.