Harris, Stone talk about Black Mountain projects and reelection possibility

Ezra Maille
Black Mountain News
Mayor Larry Harris and Vice Mayor Ryan Stone both have terms ending in 2022.

With another year in office before terms end, Black Mountain Mayor Larry Harris and Vice Mayor Ryan Stone discussed ongoing projects and their plans for the future of the town.  

Harris, Stone and Town Council member Bill Christy all have terms ending in 2022. 

"I'm trying to think it through," Harris said. "I've enjoyed serving on council and I've enjoyed serving as mayor."

Stone said he's not leaning one way or another when it comes to a bid for reelection. After the holidays, on the first of the year, he intends to come to a decision on his future with the Black Mountain town government. 

The end of next year will conclude the second term for Stone. He said he's hoping to discuss his local government future with his family, as his position and election takes a toll on them as well.

"I'm just running the gamut of it all," Stone said. "Whether I want to continue, whether I don't."

The mayor said like Stone, he's unsure of his future plans. Given that he's served for nearly 11 years in some form or another with the local government, Harris said his experience has been helpful in leading the town as well as in his work with the Land of Sky Regional Council and the French Broad River Metropolitan Planning Organization. 

"I don't want to discount the experience I've been able to have and how it could benefit the town, but at this point it's just a little too early for me to tell," Harris said. 

Stone agreed that he's enjoyed his time with the council but there's always room for fresh eyes and new voices. The filing date to run for a local office in Black Mountain opens in July, according to Harris. 

Looking ahead, Stone and Harris agreed they'd like to see the completion of the Black Mountain greenway, running from Black Mountain Avenue to Veteran's Park. Harris said the engineering aspect should be relatively simple and connecting downtown to the park would be helpful for community members and visitors. 

Another priority Harris would like to see through, or at least get under way, concerns the finalizing of the design for the added exchange to Blue Ridge Road. As acquisition of the I-40 interchange is set for June 2023, with construction to begin in 2025, Harris hopes to see progress on the project throughout the next year. 

Because of damage from Tropical Storm Fred, the town has a few smaller projects still in motion to finish repairs. Harris said the town has had relief funds for a few months but still hasn't been given final authorization on how to use them.  

"That's what's on my mind: greenway, exchange and just continued progress with these significant projects we have in town," Harris said.