DOBSON — While a number of items came before the Surry County Board of Commissioners Monday evening, Surry County Parks and Recreation Director Daniel White seemed to steal the show when he brought two matters before the board.
After much discussion, commissioners chose to allocate additional funding for work at the Franklin Youth Foundation ball fields and also to authorize White to apply for a $100,000 grant to complete work on the Mountains-to-Sea trail.
The Franklin project has been the topic of discussion at multiple meetings of the Board of County Commissioners. According to Commissioners Jimmy Miller and Larry Phillips the parking situation at the ballpark is unsafe and does not meet the needs of the organizations that use the fields.
“It’s dangerous,” said Phillips, adding that it was “only by the grace of God” that a child hadn’t accidentally been hit by a vehicle. Currently, the lack of parking spaces at the park creates a situation in which visitors must park all over the place, even parking in the wood-line, according to the commissioner.
Phillips stated that he helped two visitors dislodge their stuck vehicles the last time he visited the park.
Miller, who has been a staunch advocate for the Franklin project, has conveyed the same concerns on numerous occasions. He has also stated that though the project has been before commissioners on multiple occasions, he has seen little to no progress at the site.
White presented commissioners with a “value-engineered” estimate for the project, telling commissioners that if the project was sent to the bidding process in its entirety it was likely to cost the county in excess of $125,000. White’s estimate for the project was $91,972, which includes a 10-percent contingency fund.
The board had already committed $35,700 toward the project, leaving a $56,272 shortfall. By way of a four-to-one vote, commissioners opted to allocate that shortfall amount from the county’s general fund contingency.
While Phillips ultimately voted in favor of funding the request, he expressed some concern regarding the 10-percent contingency. “Considering it’s early in the fiscal year, I’m sure Daniel (White) will use these funds sparingly,” said Phillips.
Board Chairman R.F. “Buck” Golding cast the lone vote against allocating the additional funds for the Franklin project.
“It’s too small of a footprint to pour that much money into,” said Golding after the meeting. “I’m all for the kids, but I’d rather find a better site with room for expansion.”
White told Commissioners that the project, in its current form will provide more than 70 additional parking spaces at the park. According to White, a contractor will begin clearing the affected areas of the site in two weeks.
The board also approved White’s request to apply for a $100,000 federal grant that is administered by the state parks. White told commissioners that if Surry County receives the grant, the county will owe a $20,000 match. The grant would go toward garnering easements to complete phases two and three of the Mountains-to-Sea trail.
White said the portion of the trail that will be covered by the grant is about three and a half miles long and runs from Weyerhaeuser to Elkin’s Chatham Park.
Earlier in the meeting, in a relatively abnormal move for the Surry County Board of Commissioners, Golding removed a resolution regarding the N.C. 89 sewer project — which will extend sanitary sewer services along the highway to the I-77 interchange — from the board’s consent agenda.
Golding told fellow commissioners that he was doing so in order to discuss the resolution in the public forum. Before moving to approve the resolution, Golding said that he wanted to point out that the resolution was authorizing the county’s finance officer to borrow $5 million for the project’s completion.
The resolution was unanimously approved by commissioners.
Andy Winemiller is a staff writer at the Mount Airy News. Andy can be reached at (336) 415-4698 or [email protected]