Last updated: June 01. 2013 12:15PM - 114 Views
Tom Joyce
Civitas News Service



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A mini-park will be developed in the heart of downtown Mount Airy as the result of a property transfer between the city government and a local company.


The park is expected to resemble an existing one located diagonally across from the U.S. Post Office at the intersection of Pine and Main streets, which contains benches and other features.


Officials say the new facility is planned near the former Workforce Carolina building, which housed multiple financial institutions before that, including BB&T and United Savings and Loan.


The mini-park is eyed for the corner of North Main and West Oak streets near the structure, where part of a parking lot with entrances from North Main and Oak streets now exists. The site is owned by Main Street Granite, a limited-liability company headed by Charles Vaughn and C. Richard Vaughn Jr.


Main Street Granite is now remodeling the old Workforce Carolina building for a new tenant. And the company’s attorney, Ed Woltz — in a Sept. 27 letter to City Manager Barbara Jones — advised that an additional building entrance is being created at the opposite side of the parking lot where a drive-through window once was located.


As part of that renovation, the company is seeking a 10- to 12-foot sidewalk immediately adjacent to the building, stretching from the existing public walkway on North Main Street to the new building entrance.


In exchange for having the city government construct the sidewalk at the municipality’s expense, Main Street Granite offered Mount Airy a parcel amounting to about 1,800 square-feet for the mini-park. It is adjacent to the public sidewalk at the North Main-West Oak corner.


The mini-park “will include an additional area for shoppers and citizens to sit while visiting our downtown,” according to a resolution considered by the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners during a meeting last week.


Board members approved the property transfer in a unanimous vote, indicating that they saw the move as a way to enhance the downtown area at a minimal expense.


The city government has an in-house sidewalk crew, with the materials for the new walkway not expected to cost more than $3,000, according to city Public Services Director Jeff Boyles.


Meanwhile, the cost of developing the park has been put at a minimum of $9,000, but will depend on the the specific elements it contains. Main Street Granite officials say any plantings there would need to be no higher than 15 feet so the building won’t be obscured.


It is hoped that groups including local garden clubs will assist with the project and keep its costs low.


The expenses of construction, planting, maintenance and related needs will be the responsibility of the city, according to the resolution approved by the commissioners. It also calls for the new sidewalk to be built of the same materials used in the mini-park.


Under the plans, the entrance to the parking lot from North Main Street will be closed, and the lot will be accessible from West Oak only.


There was some concern by the commissioners over the future availability of that lot by downtown visitors.


“I guess it will be their choice to limit parking to their patrons,” Boyles said of those in charge of the old Workforce Carolina building.


Reach Tom Joyce at 719-1924 or tjoyce@heartlandpublications.com.

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