A member of the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners wants to resurrect a four-year-old project to provide restrooms to serve Veterans Memorial Park and the Emily B. Taylor Greenway.
However, that does not include a related effort to build a city playground at the same location on West Lebanon Street.
A $60,000 price tag has been suggested for the restrooms, to be located at the northeast corner of the sprawling Veterans Memorial Park where it adjoins the greenway.
Commissioner Jon Cawley says providing those facilities would fulfill an agreement made more than four years ago with the veterans who manage the park as well as fill a need for users of both it and the greenway.
In December 2008, the commissioners approved a long-term agreement with the Veterans Memorial Park governing board for the city government to lease 1.5 acres at the park. The idea at that time was to provide a public recreational resource for that side of town as well as the restrooms. An initial 25-year lease period was approved, with an option for renewal included.
“And because of the economy, we’ve never acted on any of it,” Cawley said Tuesday. Since the agreement was signed, the project’s main backer, Mayor Jack Loftis, has left office, leaving behind Cawley, who co-signed the deal and wants to see it reach fruition.
“It’s real important to me that we get that done in the near future,” Cawley said during a recent city council meeting when he made an appeal to follow through on the item of “old business.”
Cawley explained Tuesday that his present term ends this year, and although he plans to seek re-election as a commissioner from the North Ward, there is always a chance he could be voted out of office. If that occurs, Cawley wants to be able to look back on the project and say “that I did everything I could to make that a reality before my term was up.”
“Our commitment was to put some restrooms in there for the benefit of the people who attend events at the park that are sponsored by somebody other than the city,” he said of an annual fiddlers convention, car shows and other activities. “And we also recognize a need to have restrooms on the greenway.”
Presently, there are no such facilities along the heavily used pathway spanning more than two miles along Lovills Creek, from just north of Mayflower Seafood to West Lebanon Street — except for two port-a-johns behind the Roses shopping center.
Plans call for both the park and the greenway to be served by restroom facilities in one building.
In addition to Cawley’s desire to see the project completed to fulfill the agreement, another catalyst for bringing it forward at this time is an improved financial outlook for the city government.
At a planning retreat last week during which budget and other matters were discussed, board members expressed support for using money from Mount Airy’s savings to both cut property taxes and fund various capital needs related to buildings and equipment.
They were presented with an extensive list containing $3.8 million in capital projects for regular municipal operations and the separate water-sewer division. Meanwhile, commissioners believe that between $2 million and $3 million could be taken from the savings and still maintain a healthy balance.
A line item in the capital projects list for the city parks and recreation unit references a $110,000 expense for bathrooms: Lovills Creek greenway, Veterans Memorial Park/Roses. There is another $100,000 entry for “playground and parking/Veterans park.”
Cawley said his focus is strictly on the restrooms for the park and the greenway. As for the playground, he believes that is for another entity to undertake besides city government.
He explained that the veterans are not expecting the city to move on the playground aspect of the original project, but are wanting the restrooms. That’s especially in light of municipal sewer lines being extended to Veterans Memorial Park last year.
Cawley believes male and female restroom facilities can be provided for $60,000 or less. “I don’t know how elaborate people are thinking,” he said.
The restroom project is scheduled to be discussed during a meeting of the city commissioners Thursday afternoon, but it is not known if a vote on funding it will occur.
“I’ll be happy to make a motion that we proceed,” Cawley said.
“I would like to go ahead and get it done.”
Reach Tom Joyce at 719-1924 or firstname.lastname@example.org.