When Mount Airy officials voted last week to spend nearly $300,000 to upgrade a downtown street, that wasn’t the end of the story.
They also later decided to fork out another $21,500 to buy land containing eight diagonal parking spaces there from Rick and Charlie Vaughn, plus $1,250 more for the cost of a related property appraisal.
That action was taken by the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners last Thursday night after the board had ended its regular meeting and adjourned to a closed session to discuss the possible acquisition of property.
Afterward, the board returned to open session and voted 5-0 to buy the parking spaces along Market Street, for which it had approved $298,940 in streetscape improvements earlier in the evening.
The $298,940 figure fell under a $300,000 ceiling that city officials had set for the upgrade, which will include the installation of granite curbing, a scored (or decorative) concrete sidewalk with brick paver banding, decorative lighting, storm-drainage improvements to correct recent flooding problems and new asphalt pavement for a present rough street.
In order to fall under the $300,000 limit, some of the work is being assigned to city crews, a move that reduced by $60,000 the contract price with a private company that will perform the bulk of the work on Market Street.
The project was undertaken by the city government to maximize the tourism potential of the street boasting a craft brewery and other businesses, which is strategically located between North Main Street, the heart of downtown, and the Spencer’s redevelopment site.
Lease issue prompts purchase
Last week’s allocation of funding capped months of delays for the Market Street project, which hit several hurdles during the planning stages — including one related to the parking area the commissioners ultimately decided to buy.
During design work for the streetscape, it was discovered that existing public parking space on Market Street was actually privately owned. A lease was found which had been developed in 1938 between those owning land on Market Street at that time and the town, allowing a public use of their property — or right of way — by the latter. However, that least expired in 1965.
City Attorney Hugh Campbell advised that this snag would require a new easement or other deal being reached with the property’s present owners — the Vaughns — before the facelift could proceed and incorporate that space.
That led to negotiations with the owners on a possible solution, which culminated with last week’s purchase vote.
The $21,500 figure agreed upon reflects the market rate appraised value of the property, according to City Manager Barbara Jones.
Voluntary annexation approved
Also at last week’s meeting, the commissioners voted 5-0 to annex property in the 100 block of North Franklin Road.
The owner of the site, Candido Martinez Franco, had voluntarily sought its annexation.
It amounts to less than 1 acre which is now vacant, located just northwest of the intersection of North Franklin Road and West Pine Street.
Franco petitioned for the annexation as part of plans to develop a car wash on the property that is in a B-4 (Highway Business) zone.
No one, including neighboring property owners, spoke at a public hearing Thursday night, which was required before the annexation could occur.
Sitting wall approved
In other action, the city board gave its unanimous consent to plan by the Surry Arts Council to build a granite-capped, brick sitting wall around the picnic area of the Andy Griffith Playhouse at 218 Rockford St.
Although the arts organization is funding the wall, the commissioners’ approval was needed because the property targeted for it is municipal-owned.
The project calls for the wall to extend about 100 feet around the picnic area and be about 24 inches high.
Its goal is to keep children in a summer camp program safer and to provide a more attractive location to Surry Arts Council visitors, audiences and guests for eating, reading scripts and other activities at the picnic tables.
The wall will be paid for using proceeds from sales of tank tops that were donated to the Surry Arts Council by Perry Manufacturing when that company closed within the past decade.
“It’s not going to cost the city anything,” Commissioner Shirley Brinkley said in urging approval for the wall.
Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.