BY DEBBIE PAGE
debbiepage.iredellfreenews@gmail.com

Troutman Town Council members discussed a wide range of issues during their pre-agenda meeting on Tuesday.

In response to Council Member Felina Harris’s inquiry, Town Manager Ron Wyatt reported that the paperwork on the Talley Street sidewalk project is in progress and being expedited. He hopes that the bidding process will begin late this year or in early 2022.

Costs have risen since the project was first approved four years ago, perhaps up to 30 percent according to Wyatt’s estimate, which will likely raise the town’s portion of the project costs.

With increased development along Talley Street, Wyatt also said that a traffic light at Talley and Main is becoming more likely. He also said two traffic impact studies regarding several proposed traffic lights, which were initially rejected, will be repeated because of an NCDOT error.

Council member Sally Williams reported that because the State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) has insufficient funds, projects are being reprioritized with available funding, but the process has not been determined. She advised proposing town projects for consideration in this process.

COVID-19 CONCERNS

Williams also inquired about future town events. Wyatt said the town has stopped promoting events too far in the future due to the changing rate of COVID-19 infections.

Wyatt said Town Hall instituted the mask mandate inside the building after a recommendation from Iredell County Health Director Jane Hinson. With such a small staff, including some employees with health conditions, a case of COVID-19 could shut down Town Hall operations.

“We are serving citizens through the drive-thru window or with a mask on if they come in. An outbreak could handicap us from serving citizens,” said Wyatt.

COMPLIANCE ISSUES & TRAFFIC CONGESTION

Council member Eddie Nau brought the council’s attention to an auto body business at the corner of Barium Lane and Highway 21 which he said is out of compliance with town ordinances.

Nau also noted the danger of truck deliveries to the business blocking Barium Lane, causing residents to have to go around blindly into incoming traffic. Interim Police Darrin Payne said the department has responded to resident complaints in that area

Wyatt reported that the code enforcement officer has informed the owner of violations, and the owner has 30 days to respond. Wyatt reported that the business has started an appeal process with the Design Review Board to get in compliance with several sheds on the property. That process could take up to six months.

Nau advocated for a full-time code enforcement person with the growth of the town. Wyatt said now that the Planning Department is fully staffed, he can look at the possibility of looking at making the position full-time, if the council desires.

Wyatt said that complaints had also come into Town Hall about school traffic. He said the two officers on traffic duty and the SROs are working to alleviate the congestion. The population of the town doubles every school day, which naturally increases traffic, Wyatt noted.

POLICY QUESTION

Council member George Harris asked if a policy that former employees must return equipment exists, an issue that has arisen with a piece of equipment not yet returned to the town.

Such a formal procedure does not currently exist, but Wyatt wants to create better onboard and exit processes for employees, including sign-out inventory lists for employees, to ensure town equipment is properly returned

ESC PARK IMPROVEMENTS

Mayor Teross Young complimented the work on the sidewalk around the soccer fields at ESC Park. Parks and Recreation Director Emily Watson reported high interest in sponsorships, scoreboard sponsorship, and facilities rental.

New playground equipment will also be installed this month.

WEBSITE UPGRADE

Citizens have responded positively to the new website design, according to Wyatt. The staff is still working out some kinks with the hosting site and to get each department’s information updated on the website.

Wyatt also reported that an interim financial person is helping with internal audits to ensure proper coding and smooth operation of town business.

FACILITIES & PROPERTY ACQUISITION

Wyatt also said that the town is getting bids to update the house next door for Planning Department use to free up some much needed space in Town Hall.

The council also voted unanimously to accept a piece of property at 145 Garden Street, donated by Steven and Regina Dowdle. The property is expected to be used for a pocket park or community garden.

UPCOMING THURSDAY NIGHT

* Retired Finance Director Steve Shealy will be honored for his distinguished service for the town.

* New Finance Director Justin Mundy will be introduced, along with new employees Megan Edmiston, Customer Service/Billing Specialist, and Ashley Lambert, Police Evidence and Records Specialist.

* Consideration of a $340,000 budget amendment to purchase the 334 North Avenue property.

* The Winecoff Village items are expected to again be delayed to next month.

* The council will also vote on setting dates for a noncontiguous annexation for nearly 3 acres on Charlotte Highway and for a contiguous annexation of just over an acre in the 300 block of Winecoff Street.

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