Mount Airy officials are on a collision course with a busy local intersection they describe with such words as “complicated” and “tricky.”
The source of the concern is the area where North South Street, West Lebanon Street and Grace Street all converge, in the vicinity of the Dairy Center diner.
That intersection is scheduled to be discussed during a meeting of the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners today at 7 p.m., at the request of Commissioner Steve Yokeley, who believes it’s time to address the unusual configuration there.
And in addition, what might be done as far as improvements.
“That’s been on the DOT (N.C. Department of Transportation) list of future projects for at least seven years,” Yokeley said Wednesday.
With possible improvements languishing for at least that long, Yokeley said the intersection was re-addressed during a recent meeting between city government and DOT representatives.
The DOT’s answer to Mount Airy, he said, was that if the city can offer some suggestions for improvements, the project will be moved to the planning stage.
“I don’t think they know what to do with it — it’s a complicated intersection,” Yokeley said of DOT personnel.
“It is a tricky intersection,” Mount Airy Police Chief Dale Watson agreed Wednesday.
It requires, for example, northbound motorists approaching from the Bray’s Recapping Service area to snake between two businesses along a curvy section of roadway to reach West Lebanon Street, or Grace Street on the opposite side of West Lebanon.
So far, Watson said city police haven’t accumulated data to indicate major safety problems at the intersection.
“I hope we can get some input from the board or the citizens about what they think can be done there,” Yokeley said.
Other agenda items
Among additional business to be addressed at tonight’s meeting by the city commissioners is:
• The proposed awarding of a contract to Martin Starnes & Associates, a Hickory accounting firm that has been checking the municipal government’s books since 2011. State law requires an independent review of revenue and spending records each year. The proposed cost to the city is of the audit now being considered, for the 2016-2017 fiscal year that ends on June 30, is $33,980.
• Another issue raised by Yokeley, which concerns the minutes, or official records, of closed sessions held by the city council, usually for economic-development or property-acquisition discussions. The commissioner explained Wednesday that he believes those minutes should be kept confidential only until there is no longer a reason to do so, including some project or issue being resolved.
“I think they need to be released as soon as possible after that,” Yokeley said. “Hopefully, we can work out a procedure so they will be released on a regular basis.” Such minutes now are freed up on more of a piecemeal basis. Yokeley was not aware Wednesday of any legalities that govern when those documents may be released publicly.
“I’m not sure that there’s a time period,” said Yokeley, who added that his interest in having the matter discussed at tonight’s meeting does not stem from a concern about any particular project or issue.
• A proposal involving plans for a memorial bench in Canteen Alley downtown, which would honor Bill Lamm, a prominent merchant and property owner in the central business district. Lamm died in December and his family desires to donate a granite bench for placement in the alleyway known for its restored Coke mural.
It recently underwent a facelift to draw more visitors to the site with new features such as a performing stage. Plans for the Lamm memorial bench have been approved by Mount Airy Downtown Inc.
• The recognition of Mount Airy Fire Department members for lifesaving efforts.
Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.