GARLAND — The town is targeting two streets for resurfacing, but also looking at prioritizing future paving needs, which Garland officials said are plentiful.
At the Garland Board of Commissioners meeting earlier this week, Commissioner Ralph Smith recommended the resurfacing of Warren Street, from U.S. 701 to Garland Church Avenue, then Church Avenue, from Warren Street to West Second Street (N.C. 411).
“Both of them are all to pieces,” Smith said. “If we don’t do something to them soon … it’s really breaking up bad. We’ll be lucky if we have enough money to do that.”
Mayor Winifred Murphy said a sealed bid process would have to be conducted, and Smith was merely recommending a target scope of work. Commissioner Mike Toler said, if funds are indeed limited, Church Avenue should be paved from Front Street to N.C. 411.
“That one block there beside the church is really bad,” said Toler.
Murphy said there was $97,000 in Powell Bill funds available for resurfacing. Commissioner Haywood Johnson noted the funds should be enough, considering the board did four blocks for approximately $80,000 during the town’s last resurfacing.
Johnson made a motion to accept Smith’s recommendation, seconded by Commissioner Denise Toler and approved unanimously.
“I certainly know that we need to repave these,” said Murphy, “but I would like for us to also have a list of priority streets that are not paved. Maybe in the future, when we get additional monies — because I know on the west side of town, there are just so many streets that are not paved that are heavily populated. We need to look at those and prioritize them, so we can refer back to them from time to time.”
The town is getting another $15,000 allocation in December, Murphy said. The Powell Bill money is based on population and gas sales. According to N.C. Department of Transportation, Powell Bill funds “shall be expended only for the purposes of maintaining, repairing, constructing, reconstructing or widening of local streets that are the responsibility of the municipalities or for planning, construction and maintenance of bikeways or sidewalks along public streets and highways.”
The law requires that a sum be distributed ” equal to the amount produced during the fiscal year by 1-3/4 cents on each taxed gallon of motor fuel.” Along with tax base, Murphy said a new gas station could pay dividends in that respect.
“So maybe whenever we get another gas station (the new Han-Dee Hugo’s is currently under construction), maybe next year we’ll have more money to look at,” said Murphy.
Commissioners said a long-term priority list of streets would be a good idea.
“Would it be smart if we sat down and tried to draw up a 10-year plan on how to proceed?” Register said. “We might not do it every year, but that would be smart.”
Toler said the town definitely needed to think about “connecting blocks.”
“It’s good to pave new streets, but when you’ve got streets that have fallen all to pieces, you have a choice: either pave them or make dirt streets out of them,” said Smith. “We’ve got a half-million dollar motor grader sitting out there we can grade dirt streets with, but it’s hard to grade these paved streets.”
The board made a motion to begin the process of soliciting sealed bids for the work.
New employee, new meeting
Also at the town’s meeting, the board approved the hire of its new deputy clerk and the scheduling of a regular work session to be held one week prior to the regular monthly meeting.
“In the past few months, we have been having marathon meetings — 4 hours, 4 and half,” said Murphy. “In terms of breaking that up, or not having to call so many special meetings, I would like for you to consider one of two things: either having a work session prior to our regular meeting, where we can have these discussions and not actually vote … or having two regular meetings a month.
“That should avoid us having to call special meetings, where many of the citizens may not be able to get here,” she said.
Register said he preferred the work session option, one that could be held the week before. While a quorum would not be required, town clerk Jennifer Gray said, it would be the aim for all the commissioners to be present or the purpose would be defeated.
Smith made a motion to hold a work session the week prior to the regular meetings, which are scheduled the second Tuesday of each month at 6:30 p.m. Work sessions will take place on the first Tuesday at the same time.
“We are so far behind in the things we need to do,” she said. “And we look at other towns, and I don’t know if they are not having any business … but there is so much we have to get going. All of you are aware that there are so many things we are behind on that we need to move forward with.”
She noted staff changes — three different clerks and three different deputy clerks since the beginning of 2012 — “that put us under the gun even more.”
The new deputy clerk, Jennifer C. Richardson, was hired Tuesday following a closed session to discuss personnel. Richardson, who has been assisting the town on a part-time basis and has been heavily involved as part of the N.C. STEP (Small Town Economic Prosperity) committee, was hired effective immediately at a salary of $22,800.
“I look forward to working with the citizens of Garland,” Richardson said.
Chris Berendt can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 121 or via email at email@example.com.