Mayor’s Summary of the August 8, 2019 Town Council Meeting

Greetings Montreaters,

Although summer is winding down, Town business continues! Here are the highlights:

  • Public Forum questions/comments included:
    • Joe Kirkland shared exciting news from Montreat College. Although final student census figures won’t be available for a few weeks, the College is anticipating a 10% increase in the student body over last year bringing the total in Montreat and Black Mountain to nearly 600. Over the past five years, there have been year over year gains, totaling an increase of 200 students over the five years.
            Joe commented that new student orientation begins next Friday, August 16, and all students will be on campus the following Monday. Classes begin on the 21st. Let’s give them a warm welcome when they arrive.
    • I asked Town Administrator, Alex Carmichael, what the status was regarding the Greybeard Trail road/shoulder/bank repairs from last year’s Tropical Storm Alberto damage. Alex commented that the engineering contract has been let and he expects construction to begin sometime in the fall. He also commented that a portion of Greybeard will need to be closed for a short time during the repair period. Everyone will be informed of the timing and detour plans well in advance of the restrictions.
  • In my communication, I commented that it has been a difficult and emotional week after the El Paso and Dayton shootings. I asked for prayers for all those involved as they deal with their grief.
  • Alex gave a brief update on the Texas Road Bridge project, stating that we’ve received the first engineering report and are awaiting further recommendations on what can be done to transform the bridge into a pedestrian bridge. He is optimistic about moving ahead. He also gave a report on Town Hall progress (we’re still on schedule!) and the Public Works building. Contracts for the concrete pad and the metal building have been let. We are currently into the construction drawings stage.
  • The Council took four Board actions, including:
    • Approved an amendment to the Police Department’s Firearms Policy increasing the minimum acceptable score to 80% for handguns and 90% for rifles.
    • Approved the purchase of two mobile radios and accessory equipment for the Police Department. This was a  budgeted item, with the final cost coming in under budget. The Council thanked the staff for being fiscally conscious and responsible in their purchases.
    • Approved two resolutions formalizing action taken at the June meeting regarding two rights-of-way. The Buncombe County Register of Deeds requested the two resolutions in order to properly record the closure of the unopened rights-of-way.
  • There were no public comments during the Public Comment Period
  • In Commissioner’s comments:
    • Bill Gilliland read a letter he wrote to me indicating that he and his wife, Lynn, would be moving into the dorm at the Asheville School as part of Lynn’s responsibilities at the school. As a result, Bill tendered his resignation from the Town Council effective at the conclusion of the meeting. Bill received many positive comments about his service and a standing ovation from all present. We are grateful for Bill’s service, and wish Lynn and him well in this new season of their lives.
    • Alice Lentz reported that the Montreat Landcare Committee will be offering a “Bear Wise” session later in the fall. Stay tuned for more information.
    • Tom Widmer commented that Town Hall construction is proceeding on schedule. He also reminded everyone that the walking path in front of the construction has been re-opened to provide greater safety for foot traffic. He reminded everyone to be careful of uneven footing and to pay attention when crossing the construction driveway.
    • Kent Otto asked Barry Creasman about recent erosion of the bank on upper Texas Road and what the immediate plans were for preventing further damage. Barry commented that the project is second on the list of “Alberto” projects, but he would look into the recent damage.
  • Regarding the vacancy created by Bill Gilliland’s resignation, I outlined the process that will take place at the September meeting. The Town Council will offer nominations to fulfill Bill’s unexpired term (December 2020) then have a secret ballot to vote for the person to replace Bill.

These are the highlights. Of course, official minutes of the meeting will be available in next month’s Agenda packet. If you have any questions or comments on these or any other matters, please write me at thelms@townofmontreat.org or call me at 828/669-3852.

We appreciate your support,

Mayor Tim Helms on behalf of the Town Council

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