Mayor recommends committee to look at congestion downtown

Fred McCormick
Black Mountain News

As the remnants of Hurricane Irma howled outside town hall Sept. 11, Black Mountain mayor Michael Sobol took advantage of a light board of aldermen meeting to focus on parking. 

Mayor Michael Sobol talks about over-development in the town of Black Mountain during a candidate forum at the Lakeview Center on Sept. 18.

During the meeting, which also included a presentation from Bounty & Soul executive director Bruce Ganger and a proposed Duke Energy utility easement, Sobol said he wanted to appoint a special blue ribbon committee to look at parking and congestion downtown.

Sobol proposed a committee of five to seven members of the public who would meet several times to discuss issues related to those topics.

“This would not involve (town) staff,” Sobol said. “Just a group of lay people who would meet two or three times, come to some consensus, get some recommendations and bring it back to the board (of aldermen)."

No action was taken on the committee, but alderman Don Collins, running against Sobol in the November mayoral election, addressed the recommendation in the final few minutes of the meeting.

"The town has been working on the parking situation for quite a while," Collins said. "We had our intern working on that before she left. We have (town clerk and public information officer Angela Reece) working on several agreements with the cooperation of several churches to make their parking lots available for municipal parking."

Alderman Larry Harris said the town was currently looking into a grant from the N.C. Department of Transportation that would provide funding for a circulation and parking study. 

That study would take place in fiscal year 2019. The town is looking into applying for the grant in October, according to town manager Matt Settlemyer.

"The requests open up next month," Settlemyer said. "I think there are some opportunities there, so we're looking at that right now."