Could a decision finally be made on a mini-park for downtown Mount Airy?
That question might be answered today during a 7 p.m. meeting of the city board of commissioners, which has discussed the issue numerous times since the fall of 2012 and reviewed just as many proposals for the facility.
The last occasion was during the commissioners’ last meeting on Feb. 6, when officials delayed a decision on the project that involves the development of another area for the public to enjoy while downtown. The main factor involved then, as well as previously, was the funding of the facility with a present price tag of more than $100,000.
That would cover such basic features as benches, landscaping, concrete walkways, walls and planters, along with the most-costly single element, a gazebo to host small musical events. It would have electrical connections to allow public address systems or lighting.
However, the gazebo, with a dimension of 16 by 20 feet, would cost at least $60,000, based on bids recently received from local contractors vying for the project.
The mini-park is eyed for the corner of North Main and West Oak streets, where a parking lot now exists. A private entity, Main Street Granite, donated a small parcel of land to the city for the mini-park in exchange for the municipality agreeing to construct a sidewalk alongside a nearby building it owns which houses Mayberry Toy Co.
The architecture of the gazebo, which includes a turret in the design now on the table, would be reminiscent of the Blue Ridge Hotel, a Mount Airy landmark that once occupied the site.
At the board’s last meeting on Feb. 6, there was concern among board members about the updated cost of the project, $100,000 to $105,000.
They delayed a vote on funding until the mini-park financing could be discussed by the governing board of a group known as Mount Airy Downtown Inc. It makes infrastructure improvements in the central business district using proceeds from a special tax.
When the downtown group gathered the week after the commissioners last met, it agreed to support fundraising efforts for the mini-park, for which the commissioners budgeted $70,000 last year.
City officials have expressed support for part of the funding coming from community donations or other non-municipal sources.
Tonight the commissioners are scheduled to discuss, and possibly approve, bids for the mini-park.
Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-719-1924 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.