BY DEBBIE PAGE
During its pre-agenda meeting on Monday, Troutman Town Council discussed progress on completing ongoing street maintenance project options, wayfinding signage, video streaming improvements, the upcoming Independence Day parade, delayed NCDOT projects, and upcoming agenda items for its Thursday night regular meeting.
Bryan Gruesbeck will be sworn in as town manager on Thursday.
Mayor Teross Young also urged community members to stay safe and wear masks, as ordered by Gov. Roy Cooper, to stem the rise of COVID-19 cases.
“I consistently hear and see that folks are not wearing the masks, and it’s not good for you, your loved ones, or people you come in contact with,” the mayor said.
STREET COMMITTEE REPORT
Street repair and repaving is continuing in Troutman, according to Street Committee members Eddie Nau and Sally Williams.
“The price of asphalt is going down,” said Nau, adding that recent bids are in the upper $80s per ton with the recent slowing of the economy and NCDOT road projects.
In a letter to council, West Consultants engineer Todd Poteat advised that the average price per ton was now $93, much lower than the $115 being paid under last year’s $1,025,060 contract awarded for the paving projects.
The street repair project has come under projected costs by about $140,000, so the cost savings would pay for additional paving. The council is considering a 1.5-inch resurfacing of Winterflake Drive, at an estimated cost of $93,570, to cover recent unsightly patchwork repairs.
To add Winterflake paving to the current paving contract, the contractor agreed to reduce the price to $103.85 from $115 per ton. Poteat said that although rebidding the project could cost $5,000, the town could potentially still save about $25,000 by rebidding rather than continuing with the current contractor at that price.
Additional paving to areas of Georgie Street and Rumple Street are also being considered with these lower asphalt costs.
West Consultants engineer Benji Thomas said that if council added the proposed ESC Park baseball parking lot paving to the bid, they could potentially save even more for a larger asphalt order. Asphalt for the parking lot will cost more because of shorter runs, estimated to be around $100 per ton.
Young said the council needed to decide on Thursday which streets they might wish to include in a possible new bid, as well as whether to include the ballfield parking area.
Council member Paul Bryant wanted engineers to look Rumple and Georgie streets before Thursday night’s meting to determine if and how much repaving is actually needed.
Henkel also requested that the bids for each street be given separately and as a package to see cost differences and to allow council to do a partial project if costs are too high.
Williams asked that the baseball field parking lot also be included, but Thomas was not sure if all design work was complete enough to bid it with the street project.
Town Planner George Berger reported that after Town Attorney Gary Thomas sent a letter to Bizzell Design, the town’s wayfinding project completion seems to be back on track.
After overcoming utility location issues and sign production problems, a timeline for installation this summer is now complete. Badger Daylighting, a hydrovac excavation company, will complete the footing to avoid utility damage, and a sign modification from YMCA to Iredell County Recreation Center has been completed for reinstallation.
All signs should be in place by August 7 under the current plan. Phase 2 of the wayfinding project includes 9 signs. One sign was eliminated at Talley Street, so costs will be adjusted before paying the remainder of the contract to Bizzell.
Berger reported that the town’s video-streaming capabilities are continuing to be improved.
The town purchased a new $850 mounted camera that has panning and zooming capabilities. The temporary microphone stand will be replaced by connecting the current sound system and dais microphones to the camera’s sound system.
Berger said they may lower the camera slightly to look less like security footage while still staying above any audience members’ heads. The camera can also be unplugged and moved to be used elsewhere if desired.
Broadcasting of town meetings will continue through the Town’s YouTube Channel.
PARADE AND FIREWORKS UPDATE
The Troutman Independence Day Parade, rescheduled for August 15, was also under discussion.
Mayor Young revealed that the county has decided to cancel the Iredell County Agricultural Fair because of its inability to maintain suggested social distancing guidelines that are expected to be in place in September, even under Phase 3 reopening.
“There are some real concerns now with the county canceling the fair. They want to work with us if we decide to move forward, let me be clear.”
“However they don’t feel they can maintain social distancing and all the provisions of the governor’s orders to ensure safety for folks. Given that, I think we do have to make a decision whether we want to move forward with the parade and the fireworks.”
The mayor believes staging the fireworks without fairground access and road closure issues will make the event problematic. He wanted to get Parks and Recreation Director Emily Watson’s input before Thursday’s meeting so the council can make a decision.
With school opening a few days later, Young also expressed concern about a large gathering causing a COVID-19 outbreak that could threaten the community’s health and school operation.
No contracts have been signed, so the town would have no financial loss if the events are cancelled.
There are bout 30 entries for the parade so far.
Bryant reported that all N.C. Department of Transportation projects on the books, regardless of funding from the state or federal level, are on hold until further notice. He shared the Lake Norman Transportation Commission’s frustration because there is no guarantee of future funding of already approved projects.
Henkel questioned why the town’s sidewalk project, funded by federal money, is being delayed. Berger said that even though the money comes from a federal source, NCDOT is the signatory and receiver of the funds.
NCDOT is not currently allowed to sign any contracts or outlay any funds in its possession, so the money for the sidewalk project is in limbo.
“That is one of the greatest frustrations that local governments have,” added Berger.
Henkel lamented that fact that Lytton Street residents have waited so long and so patiently for these sidewalks. “It’s very frustrating and just boggles my imagination. They’ve been so patient and kind about it,” he said.
The mayor also expressed concern about safety issues resulting from lack of maintenance at street interchanges. Berger said sign replacement is slow, but mowing is occurring.
Problems arose after the NCDOT overspent its budget by $742 million last year, according to a May state audit report. The department has been under sharp criticism because of poor money management.
The department was budgeted to spend $5.94 billion in 2019 but exceeded that amount by more than 12 percent, according to State Auditor Beth Wood. Transportation officials did not base their budget plans on true cost estimates for projects.
The department also lacked monitoring of overspending at NCDOT’s 14 highway divisions.
The public is invited to address the Town Council with comments or concerns during public comment or hearings.
However, please note that this regular meeting is being conducted under an adopted March 30, 2020, State of Emergency Ordinance resulting from Governor’s Executive Order 121, “Stay at Home.”
Therefore, at this time, public comments are to be received by mail, email (email@example.com), or live stream chat. Comments should be no more than 350 words.