Saturday, June 22, 2024

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Graham, NC 27253
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Graham council to consider how to spend $600K downtown grant

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Graham’s city council will resume consideration next week on how to allocate funds from a $600,000 “downtown enhancement grant” that the city has received from state government.

The council discussed a list of projects put together by the city’s public works department at its May 14 meeting, but did not make any final decisions.

These options, which add up to more than the $600,000 available, included:

  • Resurfacing municipal parking lots, $267,000
  • Downtown street light upgrade, $3,456
  • Repaint metal poles downtown, $272,000
  • Resurface East Elm Street from East Harden to Home Avenue on West Elm, $385,000
  • Pedestrian Crosswalk improvements, $500,000
  • Replace about 50 trees in downtown, $10,000
  • Put hanging flower baskets on 100 blocks of North and South Main streets, and East and West Elm streets, and the 200 block of North Main, $4,500
  • Sidewalk improvements, no estimate yet

For her part, mayor Jennifer Talley said she particularly liked the option for hanging baskets and improved lighting.

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However, she expressed concern about the possibility that lighting changes would end up being the same as recently undertaken in Burlington.  “I don’t feel like it’s very lit up,” Talley said of the lighting changes in Burlington.

Talley also said she liked the idea of having brick pavers for crosswalks and sidewalks.  It’s “really attractive to have brick sidewalks,” she said, saying she’s seen in other North Carolina towns and cities with them; she expressed particular admiration for Elon’s.

She also said painting sidewalks was a possibility although the city’s public works director, Burke Robertson, expressed concern about possible resulting slippery conditions.

Talley also wanted to see crosswalks downtown, particularly around Court Square, having the “stamped” look (as they had before DOT repaved the area a year or so ago), or installing actual brick pavers in the crosswalks.

Formerly, crosswalks around Court Square had a stamped brick pattern (painted brick red).
Graham used to have “stamped” crosswalks, similar to these at the corner of Clay and Fourth streets in downtown Mebane.
Actual brick pavers (above and below) constitute the sidewalk in much of the town of Elon, a look admired by Graham mayor Jennifer Talley.

Robertson said he is working on getting quotes for both styles.  The pavers would be approximately 9/16ths of an inch thick.  Council member Bonnie Whitaker noted that the idea amounted to a “beautification” project, although Talley said having a “not smooth” surface would represent “a huge safety improvement,” inasmuch as it would contribute to forcing vehicular traffic to slow down – a so-called “traffic calming device.”

Talley said she thought it was “unfair” for the city to have to consider repainting downtown power poles owned by Duke Energy, which the utility company should be keeping maintained.  Duke has no plans to repaint its poles, reported Robertson to the city council at last month’s meeting.

Talley rejected out of hand a reporter’s question about whether the $600,000 might be a source of revenue for dealing with the structural issues at the Sesquicentennial Park on Court Square.

Robertson reported that he is evaluating the cost of moving the park to one of several other Graham park locations, specifically mentioning beside the Graham Civic Center, South Graham Park, or Bill Cooke Park. [See separate story in this edition.]

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