Town Council lists parks & rec study as top priority for upcoming year

Karrigan Monk
Black Mountain News
Facilitator Warren Miller provided the Black Mountain Town Council with a list of accomplishments from the past year.

The Black Mountain Town Council prioritized five new ideals during the annual council retreat on Feb. 25.

The retreat was facilitated by Warren Miller, founder and president of Fountainworks, an organization that helps “public leaders tackle big challenges,” according to its website.

Miller led all five council members along with Mayor Michael Sobol through a variety of exercises throughout the day to help not only understand where the town can go, but what work had been accomplished in the past year.

Miller highlighted several things the town had accomplished within the past year or so, including an updated stormwater master plan, installing solar panels on a town-owned building, entering into a water purchasing agreement with the city of Asheville, installing new water meters, creating a sanitation department, implementing new financial software, commissioning and acting on a pay study, updating the comprehensive plan and working on a parks and recreation master plan.

While the parks and recreation master plan was one of last year's priorities and was commissioned last year, council has not yet heard a presentation on it, but will March 1.

When listing out priorities for the next year, most members of the council named moving forward with the parks and recreation plan as their top priority.

In order to get to this top priority, Miller first had the council to envision what they wanted Black Mountain to look like 10 years from now.

“The ultimate place to play, live and experience the beauty of Western North Carolina,” council member Doug Hay said.

Council member Pam King said she wanted the town to be the “greenest town in North Carolina.”

When asked to identify specifics, each member of the council said sustainability is an important goal for them.

The Black Mountain Town Council met for its annual retreat Feb. 25.

Once the long-term goals were idealized, Miller asked the council to think of what can be accomplished over the next one to two years. These goals were then narrowed down to a top five, including moving forward with the parks and recreation master plan. The council also named updating fire equipment, looking into trash and recycling programs and carts, facility needs assessment and development of donated property as its top goals for the upcoming year.

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“Any of these priorities, our views could change,” council member Bill Christy said. “We have to be open to that, too.”

Miller asked the council if there was anything else they would like to discuss, and Hay asked the council to consider how the town could communicate more effectively.

Town Manager Josh Harrold was also present at the retreat and said that misinformation has been going around town and one solution could be to have a dedicated communications staff member.

Vice Mayor Archie Pertiller suggested a newsletter could be an option and other members agreed.

What council member Alice Berry called a “delightful day” ended with Miller asking each member what they appreciated about the retreat. He also commented that it was “exciting” to see how “aligned” the council is in its goals.

Council members called the day respectful and helpful, and Harrold said having the “roadmap” of priorities makes the town staff’s jobs easier.

“It’s a helpful process,” Christy said. “Our job is sort of broader, and staff takes care of the details, so hopefully it’s helpful to them.”