City may keep Griffith Street alive

First Posted: 6/15/2009

After being threatened with almost-certain closure, a Mount Airy street named after Andy Griffiths father could get a new lease on life this week.
City Manager Don Brookshire is recommending that the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners table its scheduled consideration of an ordinance to close Carl Lee Griffith Court. It is located in the vicinity of West Pine Street near Moody Funeral Home and the Surry Arts Council.
As it stands now, that ordinance is to be voted on Thursday during a 7 p.m. meeting of the commissioners. It involves the proposed closing of a remaining portion of Carl Lee Griffith Court, an initial section of which was closed in August 2007 as part of plans to construct an addition beside the Andy Griffith Playhouse near the streets path.
The latest move involves a request from Moody Investments, owner of the only other parcel that fronts the street, that the remainder of Carl Lee Griffith Court be closed. The section in question now serves as a driveway for the Moody property and that of the arts organization.
Closing the street seemed to be an open-and-shut case until the commissioners held a public hearing on the issue at their last meeting on June 4. At the hearing, South Ward Commissioner Todd Harris saying he was speaking as a citizen and not a city official said he was opposed to the closing.
Harris explained that it would mean the end of recognition for Carl Lee Griffith, whom his son Andy had preferred to receive honors in his hometown rather than himself. The elder Griffith has been praised for the way in which he raised his family and made other contributions.
The opposing board member added that while he is a supporter of the Moody family, he wanted to see the Carl Lee Griffith name remain in a public setting, which could not be ensured if the street were closed.
In recommending that the closing be tabled, City Manager Don Brookshire said in a memo to the commissioners that he can understand Harris sentiments regarding the long-term future of the street name.
Pointing out that the reason for the closing is to allow additional parking in the street space, Brookshire said that could still occur while retaining the Griffith name. Such a use of the street does not absolutely require the closing of the street and, if there are objections to taking that approach, the matter may be addressed in a different manner, the city manager states in his memo.
It would appear that the requested action is not necessary in order to accomplish this and it would be proper for the Board of Commissioners to lay this on the table rather than to take further action.
The commissioners will have the final say Thursday night.
Contact Tom Joyce at [email protected] or at 719-1924.

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