By John Peters
February 9, 2014
The often talked about, and just as often delayed, vote on a downtown Mount Airy mini-park was finally scheduled for a vote last week.
Until the Board of Commissioners decided not to decide on the issue.
The biggest sticking point for some of the commissioners seems to be the price tag for the park, at the corner of North Main and West Oak streets, which has ballooned from an initial estimate of about $10,000 to more than $100,000. Those initial estimates were for a basic facility with sidewalks and a couple of benches, making use of city labor for the bulk of the work. Later plans have called for a gazebo, complete with electric hook-ups and a turret similar to one that was on the former Blue Ridge Hotel, which was once located at the site.
Each of the commissioners has expressed concern over the price, and appropriately so. The board has said it will spend up to $70,000 on the facility, and anything more will have to come from other sources, or the design will have to be redone to curtail to the existing city money.
Last week, with four bids in hand, the board opted to delay voting again.
In all fairness, this was probably a wise move, given that the reason for waiting was to allow Mount Airy Downtown Inc. to consider whether it could do any fundraising work to supplement the city money.
The park is proving to be expensive, and we would question spending more than $100,000 of city taxpayer money on such a project. At the same time, the more expensive designs are ones that will allow the park to be used by the city, and presumably other groups, for small concerts and other events, enhancing the downtown area as a destination center.
We think this one, final delay, to collaborate with Mount Airy Downtown, was probably a good move. But we hope this really is the last time the vote is put off.