Friends – The subject event directed by BRCA Board member Karyn Herterich was very well attended and excellent. Karyn, BRCA member Judge Bob Burroughs and Blowing Rock News Editor David Rogers put a lot of very effective hard work into this program to make it an outstanding success. The film of last night’s program is available now on our website www.brcivic.org. The following are some highlights from the program:1. When questioned about the Town’s 32.1% increase in property taxes and 23.9% increase in water and sewer fees, and more than 70% increase in general budget expenses over the past four years Council Candidate Doug Matheson said tax increases were necessary to repair badly worn Town infrastructure that had been neglected over a number of years. Mayoral Candidate Charlie Sellers said the Town needs to do a better job of controlling expenses. He also said that the Town must focus capital expenditures on the substantial needed repairs of roads, streets, sidewalks, water and sewer system problems and not be distracted by requested spending on lower priority optional projects.
2. When asked about the proposed Sunset Drive streetscape project Council Candidate Virginia Powell said she wants Blowing Rock to retain its unique village charm by using unobtrusive signage like that used by European villages. Mayoral Candidate Lawrence said he wants an entrance at Sunset and Highway 321 that will have a WOW!! effect on those passing by. Candidate Sellers said he favors doing needed street, sidewalk and water and sewer system repairs and attractive signage on Sunset. Sellers does not favor additional expensive cosmetic work on Sunset Drive that is being discussed. Candidate Matheson said he thinks that work that will be done by the NCDOT will minimize the need for Town expenses at the intersection of Sunset and Highway 321. Sellers said he liked the work that Virginia Tech did at no cost to the Town on the American Legion Building surrounding area. He said the Town should seek this kind of help with Sunset Drive and other Town areas. He also said Blowing Rock has many talented residents who can be consulted and used on Town projects and needs without expense to the Town.
3. In response to a question about downtown parking problems on busy weekends Candidate Lawrence who has served as Mayor for twenty years said parking problems are good problems to have. He said more parking places will be eliminated on Highway 221 when the sidewalk to Bass Lake is done. He said a parking building on Maple Street might be considered. Candidates Sellers and Sweeting agreed that severe parking problems exist downtown on busy weekends. Sellers suggested joint ventures with Rumple Presbyterian church and First Baptist Church on parking buildings.
4. In response to a question about a proposed new automated water meter system Candidate Pickett said he thinks it will be helpful to property owners in discovery of water leaks. Candidates Matheson and Sellers said they are opposed to forcing property owners to buy a new water meter.
5. In response to a question about changes you would make if elected Candidates Lawrence and Pickett had no changes to suggest. Candidate Matheson said he would put a shuttle service in effect on busy weekends. Candidate Sellers said we must develop a vision to take Blowing Rock to the next level using the great talents of our citizens. Candidate Sweeting says she will propose a memorial tree program for the Town.
6. All candidates now favor using a professional arborist to direct tree maintenance and planting activity in Memorial Park. No one explained why many recommendations over the years from BRAAC and others to use an arborist had been ignored leading to current serious tree problems in the park.
These are my impressions of some of the discussion at last night’s meeting. For more information and for far more accurate detail please take a look at the film of the meeting at brcivic.org