Local residents might have noticed a lot of sidewalk repairs occurring in Mount Airy lately, and there’s a good reason for all that activity.
It stems from work by Frontier Natural Gas contractors during the summer which damaged a number of sidewalks located in or near downtown Mount Airy, according to city Public Works Director Jeff Boyles.
Energy and utility companies such as Frontier have the right to install lines or perform other work in public rights of way, Boyles explained during a meeting of the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners last week, with sidewalks sometimes torn up as a result. In response to questions from Commissioner Shirley Brinkley, Boyles said companies are required to fix such damage.
When the public works director spoke with Frontier Natural Gas representatives about the repair situation, they cited difficulties in trying to find contractors to handle the array of concrete-repair jobs involved.
“This meant it was taking longer to complete this work than Frontier or the city of Mount Airy preferred,” Boyles explained in a memo to City Manager Barbara Jones.
That led to an offer for the municipal Public Works Department to tackle the task, effectively working as a subcontractor for a negotiated fee.
An agreement was reached for city crews to replace the sidewalks and at last report they had completed work at 15 locations. Boyles said the damaged walkways included several locations up and down North Main and West Lebanon streets.
“I felt this would have multiple benefits for the city of Mount Airy,” Boyles added of the deal with Frontier, “including better communication about the status of their work and the accompanying sidewalk damages, repairs would be completed sooner, and the quality of the work would be excellent.”
Commissioner Brinkley at first seemed skeptical about the arrangement when it was discussed at last week’s meeting, but was supportive after further explanation. The board subsequently approved a budget amendment to account for money paid to the city government by Frontier Natural Gas and its reimbursement to the budget of the Streets Division for the sidewalk replacements.
At last report, the company had been invoiced for almost $20,000 for the work and city crews expect to complete additional sidewalk replacements valued at about $5,000 before the end of the construction season this year.
“This is a positive move, in my opinion,” the city manager said.
In addition to moving quicker, the work is being done to city sidewalk standards and Mount Airy is getting reimbursed by the company, Jones emphasized.
Also at their meeting last week, the commissioners approved the reappointment of a member of a city advisory group.
Glenda Laster’s present term on the Mount Airy Appearance Commission is set to expire on Dec. 30, and she has expressed interest in continuing to serve.
The board approved a new three-year term for Laster which will expire on Dec. 30, 2020.
Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.