By David Rogers. August 11, 2020. BLOWING ROCK, NC — On the surface, summarizing three and a half hours of the Blowing Rock Town Council’s regular August meeting is a challenge. In reality, not so much.
The full agenda can be found HERE.
- Chestnut Drive/Morris Street Stormwater Drainage Project — The descriptive comments about the project and various questions required roughly an hour and a half, but in the end the proposed fixes were approved in their entirety, amounting to just over $283,000. Funding will come partially from already approved budget sources, as well as money budgeted but not spent on the Sunset Drive project last year.
- Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce contract with the Town for Art in the Park — Next year will be the 58th consecutive year for this series of events that the Chamber advertises as bringing 30,000 and 35,000 people a year to Blowing Rock. Others estimate a $10+ million economic impact representing a major boost to lodging and restaurant sales, as well as a favorable impact on retail sales. The renewal contract was approved, but not before Commissioner Sue Sweeting raised questions about the art exhibitors’ parking at Davant Field and wanting the Chamber to identify an alternative. Chamber executive director Charles Hardin replied that alternatives would be hard to come by since the school parking lot and the churches are used as fund raisers for local organizations on Art in the Park days. He suggested that App Ski Mountain, the horse show grounds and other alternatives are too far since the exhibitors need to be able to re-supply their merchandise. Hardin also pointed out that the Chamber already pays several thousand dollars a year to provide visitors with shuttle service to downtown from the Tanger Outlets (Shoppes on the Parkway), effectively offsetting the approximately 40 parking spaces used to stage the event on Park Ave.
- Valley Blvd. — Kevin Rothrock gave an update on the ad hoc committee’s recommendations and, in most cases, the relevant issues are being considered at the August 20th meeting of the Blowing Rock Planning Board.
- Discussion About Town Assistance to Town Employees and Students Affected by Watauga County Schools’ decision to open school with remote learning only until at least early October — Given the recent introduction of fiber-optic broadband services to downtown by SkyLine/SkyBest, the Town is in a unique position to potentially offer WiFi Internet access to Blowing Rock students who might not have broadband capabilities at home. The discussion rambled around various related topics, but the general consensus seemed to be that facilities might be provided at various locations, such as the Recreation Center, the Outdoor Picnic Tables (behind Town Hall), and the American Legion Building when no conflicting events are scheduled. However, it was emphasized that for children under 12 years of age a supervising adult would likely be required to accompany any child, while middle school and high school students would probably be “OK” to be at such a facility by themselves. Recreation Director Jennifer Green emphasized that the Town was not in the day care business. Town Manager Shane Fox reported that given the WCS decision he was in contact with all Town employees about what needs they might have because of the WCS decision.
In the Consent Agenda, the Board of Commissioners voted to grant permission for the Town to advertise for bids focused on the Ice House lease as well as for the Water Treatment Plant bulk chemical tanks.
Of note during the comments by the individual Council members, Town Manager Shane Fox reported that just today (Tuesday, August 11th) notice had been received from the North Carolina Department of Transportation approving the Sidewalk to Bass Lake project. Construction is slated to begin in the first week of September.