Contracts OK’d for playhouse, stream work

By Tom Joyce -

Mount Airy officials have awarded construction contracts for separate projects: one that will make the Andy Griffith Playhouse parking lot handicapped-accessible and another for channel repairs along Lovills Creek.

Both were approved in 5-0 votes by the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners during a meeting last Thursday, with one project requiring city dollars while the other will use funding from the state.

Playhouse project

After earlier discussions surrounding a need to pave the Andy Griffith Playhouse lot, which serves patrons of that facility and the Andy Griffith Museum nearby, the commissioners also learned that it does not comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

The ADA, which became law in 1990, is a civil-rights measure that prohibits discrimination against handicapped individuals, including their access to all public and private places that are open to the general public.

City Public Works Director Jeff Boyles presented proposed improvements to the board on April 19, including adjusting the slope of a ramp from the parking lot to the portico, or porch area at the entrance to the Andy Griffith Playhouse. The present slope exceeds the maximum allowed, and is considered the chief issue concerning the ADA compliance.

An area between the playhouse and lot will be filled in to raise the sidewalk.

The handicapped ramp also needs railing on both sides, with only one side included now.

In addition, the lot has just one handicapped parking space, with three required by law, and there is no clearly marked access aisle from the handicapped parking area to the ramp.

The solution devised by Boyles calls for eliminating an existing drop-off lane near the playhouse building along with the existing accessible space and establishing three handicapped spaces at the top of the ramp. The lot also will gain four regular spaces under this configuration.

Along with allocating $45,000 for resurfacing the playhouse lot, which has not been done in about 30 years, the commissioners on April 19 instructed Boyles to seek formal bids for the handicapped-accessibility upgrades.

This led to last Thursday’s decision to award a $19,400 contract to J.G. Coram Co. of Mount Airy for that project, although the total expense will be $28,000. Coram submitted the lowest of three bids for the job from Mount Airy-based firms, which also included a $24,900 proposal from Colt W. Simmons Construction Co. and a $49,500 bid from PCS Construction Services.

In addition to that, city officials approved a recommendation to install an upgraded parking lot light similar to those placed in lots downtown, which is deemed appropriate for the playhouse area and will improve its appearance.

The light, to be installed by Duke Energy, added about $4,500 to the total cost along with contingency funding to cover any unforeseen problems, to reach the $28,000 appropriation. The commissioners unanimously approved an amendment to the 2017-2018 municipal budget to cover that.

Estimates for the upgrades had been put at nearly $31,000, not counting contingencies, but the public works director said on April 19 that this base cost could be reduced by city crews performing some of the tasks involved.

Coram officials have pledged to complete their portion of the playhouse lot work by late May, which Boyles will conform to the schedule of the contractor for the paving, Carl Rose and Sons.

Executive Director Tanya Jones of the Surry Arts Council, which oversees the playhouse and museum operations, “is anxious to get it done,” Boyles said concerning the slate of improvements.

Channel work

The commissioners awarded a $73,605 contract to North State Environmental, a Winston-Salem company, to make channel repairs on Lovills Creek near the city greenway trail that runs along U.S. 52.

This stems from an earlier effort to stabilize the streambank from north of Lebanon Street to south of U.S. 52 using an interlocking block system. “This was done in the mid-nineties,” Boyles said of that work, and the system has now failed in two locations.

These include a spot about 650 feet north of the Rockford Street bridge and at the nearby railroad trestle.

North State Environmental’s bid was significantly under two others made, an $118,144 offer from Carolina Environmental Contracting of Mount Airy and one of $255,730 from PCS Construction Services. The bids had been received in April.

The total funding approved for the project is $85,000, which also includes contingency money.

This will be met with $150,000 earmarked by the state government through a House contingency fund. The money, provided from the N.C. Department of Transportation, also will address other issues along Lovills Creek related to stream restoration and greenway enhancements.

The fact that the funding from the state ($150,000) exceeds the $85,000 allocation did not go unnoticed.

“What happens to the difference?” Mayor David Rowe asked.

Boyles said the $150,000 total also had to cover design and other expenses, but hopefully some funding will be available for additional work along the stream.

“There’s not a sunset on this money,” he said of a deadline for its use.

“We want to get through this,” Boyles added of the project at hand which is expected to be completed by the end of the summer, “and then see what we can do.”

By Tom Joyce

Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.

Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.