A proposed upgrade to the parking lot at the Andy Griffith Playhouse will have to wait, due to action — or the lack thereof — at a meeting of the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners Thursday night.
Concerns about costs led board members to decide against paving the way for not only a major upgrade with a price tag of $293,400, but also a less-expensive repair option of about $30,000.
After officials leaned against taking the more-expensive route, a motion for the lesser project introduced by Commissioner Shirley Brinkley — an admitted “advocate” of the Surry Arts Council that occupies the playhouse — died for lack of a second.
Parking lot needs at the Andy Griffith Playhouse unexpectedly became an issue at a meeting last month when Mount Airy officials were discussing long-awaited upgrades to parking facilities at Reeves Community Center. The presence of potholes was cited at the playhouse, which is used by the arts organization for its activities but is owned by the city government.
Those potholes were filled soon after as a stopgap measure, and in the meantime estimates for more-substantial work were obtained and presented at Thursday night’s commissioners meeting by City Engineer Mitch Williams.
Williams outlined two possible courses of action, one calling for asphalt overlay work costing about $30,000, and the other for the $293,000 worth of improvements that represent a complete redesign of the playhouse lot.
That project calls for realigning the intersection, to eliminate one of the two driveways into the lot and lessen confusion while also improving access; installing decorative lighting and granite curbing; improved pedestrian access; a signal upgrade; landscaping; and striping.
About five more spaces also would be gained at the lot that now has 52 parking spots.
Brinkley, citing the fact that the playhouse lot hasn’t been paved in 25 to 30 years, argued Thursday night that its condition poses safety problems and also is a factor with tourism.
“I think now is the right time to get the Surry Arts Council to the standards that tourists expect,” Brinkley said, and also local users of its facilities.
Brinkley said she wanted to at least proceed with the less-expensive option.
“This is not a ton of money — I would like to see it done the right way,” she said. “I would like to see us go ahead and do the asphalt overlay.”
Brinkley acknowledged that the Reeves Community Center parking lot needs are important, but so is that at the playhouse.
Plate too full?
However, the fact that the municipality is engaged in so many parking lot projects caused other board members to stall the proposed work at the playhouse.
“I’ve got a lot of concerns with the number of parking lots we have under consideration,” Commissioner Jim Armbrister said. “I’m really concerned about the amounts of money this totals out to.”
The parking lot projects for multiple lots at Reeves Community Center have been estimated to cost between $400,000 and $500,000 — the bulk of which is planned in 2017 to a lot on Cherry Street.
And City Manager Barbara Jones said an upgrade also is eyed during this fiscal year for the municipal parking lot between Old North State Winery and Brannock and Hiatt Furniture on North Main Street.
In discussing the playhouse parking situation, Armbrister said he thinks other areas have a greater need “rather than trying to do too much at one time.”
Commissioners Dean Brown and Steve Yokeley agreed.
“I would like to get that put off to another time,” Brown said of work on the playhouse lot.
“We’ve been talking about Reeves Community Center parking lots for years now,” said Yokeley, who added that those appear to be the highest priority at present.
There seemed to be a consensus that the pothole-filling project last month has made the Andy Griffith Playhouse facility OK for now.
“I’ve driven around all through it several times,” Brown said.
When Brinkley made her motion to undertake the asphalt overlay and striping, there was a long pause among the other three commissioners (with the board’s Jon Cawley absent from the meeting).
“Seeing there is no second, the motion has failed,” Mayor David Rowe then said.
Yokeley said he does think the playhouse situation is important, and said it should be considered in October when the city board is scheduled to discuss capital outlay (building- and equipment-related) priorities ahead of the next budget year.
Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.