Last night was a very heavy agenda. Not just in the number of agenda items, but in their weight of importance for the community moving forward. So much so that the Council had a special meeting prior to the regular one thus starting proceedings at 5:30pm and ending near 10pm.
As always, the meeting agendas and minutes are online at www.clemmons.org. This is just my own personal update and opinion on the most important items of the previous evening.
Last night we had two speakers from the county attend our Village meeting and share library project updates, these were the County Manger, Dudley Watts, and the Deputy County Manager, Damon Sanders-Pratt.
The county manager was already scheduled to attend the meeting to speak to the council about the Idols Road Industrial Park and when he heard the Clemmons library was on the agenda for the same evening he brought with him the deputy county manager (deputy county manger is the lead on this project).
Essentially, the original proposal was far outside of budget and cuts had to be made. The point Chris Wrights was able to make, and that I agree with, is that why isn’t Clemmons the one deciding what stays and what goes. We need to have the opportunity to choose what this library becomes. We understand budget, but we need to make sure the money is spent where our community sees it being best utilized.
Something that Mr. Sanders-Pratt shared is that the state now allows the county to utilize a different type of construction process.
The one we are most familiar with is “Design – Bid – Build”. The design is made then businesses bid on it and then it is built. That is not what is being utilized with the Clemmons library.
Instead, they are using a process known as “Contractor-At-Risk,” which allows for a predetermined contractor to work alongside the architect throughout the process. The contractors fee is set – so there is no benefit to them not spending the maximum amount. What this does though is creates more back and forth and multiple plans being put forth, which is what we have experienced (multiple plans – one with a front porch and one without, etc.). It will continue to go back and forth between the builder and the architect until they reach an agreement on a design that fits the budget.
As this process goes forward, one thing that cannot be changed is the footprint of the library – as part of the agreement Forsyth County committed to a 20,000 square foot facility.
- Clemmons supported the Forsyth County bond that included a new library and therefore it should be clear this is something we care deeply about. We all know that generally speaking Clemmons does not like bonds.
- That we would not be getting the type of community resource and gathering place that we clearly said we wanted. This is not about a design issue. It’s about making sure we get what we expect. That what we signed on for will serve the purposes we want.
- That those who do not live in Clemmons don’t always realize how many people outside of Clemmons utilize our resources and use our town for their shopping and convenience needs. Often people in Davidson and Davie county, as well as parts of Winston Salem, come to Clemmons as part of their daily routine. Our library will serve much more than the 20,000 people in Clemmons.
- Mr. Sanders-Pratt agreed to keep our Village staff more informed so that the residents could be more informed as things progress during the design phase of the library, which includes giving Clemmons (council, friends of the library or the planning board *TBD) the power to pick and choose the items the stay and go instead of the county.
- Research and Meetings. I’m gathering and preparing information, as well as meeting with members of the community to gather information on our library, area libraries, structural costs, other resources, etc. In case the library continues to go in a direction that displeases our community I want to be well prepared for the next discussion.
- There will be “naming rights” opportunities later in this process as well (example: Jerry Long Family YMCA). While not a preferred method or a guaranteed one, we do have the opportunity to work items back in that were taken out if we find willing sponsors.
IDOLS INDUSTRIAL PARK
I think the place to start with this is that it is still 15 years off. Dudley Watts painted the picture of a long-term strategy and not a short one, which is good for Clemmons. This is good for Clemmons because it reinforces what they have told us previously – this park will attract high quality, high paying jobs and that these lots will be sold at a premium because industrial space is limited throughout the triad. He also assured the Council that it would be the type of business that was a right fit for the community.
No matter what happens with this property it has always been zoned for industrial. In fact, I believe it is zoned for general industrial and the county would be placing tighter restrictions on the space than what they are required to.
Currently the county is conducting a traffic impact study to the area. What they can’t tell us though is how many trucks will be traveling up and down Middlebrook Drive versus alternative routes. The solution to this may be limiting truck use along that road. I’m not sure what that process is, but it will need to be explored as construction begins.
The potential upside on this project is that it is still an option for annexation to Clemmons (tax revenue and aesthetic control). The deal that was on the table from the county to the village back in the summer of 2017 was a bad one. The previous village council was in a no-win situation. I’m hoping we can start a conversation back up and see if we can adjust the previous contingencies.
We will all continue to watch this project closely.
The agenda included a “Discussion of Resolution 2016-R-17 Support of NCDOT Request for Construction on a Median on Lewisville-Clemmons Road”. The discussion circled around a bit and landed at needing more information so the motion to reverse was withdrawn.
The concerns about reversing this resolution included:
- Would it halt the study and design DOT has already begun for improvements to Lewisville-Clemmons Road?
- Would we no longer be able to pick out other elements from a design that included a median while not committing to an overall median plan?
- Would this deteriorate a relationship with DOT by withdrawing support that was already pledged?
I needed more time to have these questions asked. I should have made a motion to table the discussion, but am not used to knowing yet what tools are in my council toolbox. This has already been placed back on the agenda in February and I will seek clarification to my questions in the meantime.
It is clear that the community does NOT want a median and the council represents the people. Action MUST be taken on this resolution after more information is gathered.