Landis water and sewer project moving forward after delay

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 1, 2009

By Shavonne Potts
LANDIS ó Two years ago today, citizens voted to issue bonds to pay for sewer and water improvement projects. Many have wondered why they have not seen any improvements.
Town Engineer Mike Acquesta answered that question at Monday’s Board of Aldermen meeting.
Voters approved the bonds in November 2007 for a $5.5 million project to replace outdated water pipes and pump stations so the town could comply with state mandates. The water portion of the project is $3.8 million, the sewer portion $1.7 million.
By using bonds, the town could get a lower interest rate and be eligible for U.S. Department of Agriculture funds.
In January 2008, the town was approved for a $1 million grant from the Rural Utilities Service and a $2.8 million loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for the water portion of the project.
In February, town leaders decided to go after federal stimulus money to replace the loan. Acquesta said he and his engineering team put together four or five grant applications for stimulus money in March or April and later found out the town did not get any grants.
“It took us over six months to delay to try to save Landis $3 million,” said Alderman James Furr.
Alderman Tony Hilton pointed out that with the economy the way it is, the cost of construction would be much lower.
The town is starting over the Department of Agriculture, Acquesta said.
The board also:
– Received information from Darrell Blackwelder, an agent in horticulture at the Rowan County office of the N.C. Cooperative Extension, about graffiti removal from trees.
The board tabled a proposed graffiti removal ordinance in October to allow residents time to submit suggestions about cleaning up the markings, what should be defined as graffiti and potential fines.
The proposed graffiti ordinance was initially discussed in June. Since that time, some residents have asked about removal methods that would not harm trees and how the cost of graffiti removal would affect families on fixed incomes.
As originally proposed, the ordinance would give a property owners up to seven days to remove the graffiti. If the property owner did not remove the markings, the town would remove it and charge the owner.
Blackwelder said his research has revealed it isn’t entirely impossible to remove graffiti from most trees. He suggested a few ways to the board and offered his help if there is a need to remove any markings.
“Depending on the tree, you can use a pressure washer,” he said.
Blackwelder also recommended using a metal brush to scrape off the bark. Some tree bark, such as oak, can be chipped off without harming the tree. On other trees, a mud paste can be applied and washed off during a hard rain.
The paint comes right off, he said.
“It can be done,” Blackwelder said.
– Received plans for a passive historical park to be built in the downtown area.
Before his death, D.C. Linn had been working on a project to create a passive historical park on a 2-acre lot located at North Central Avenue near the Landis Police Department. His family donated the property.
In September, the board approved applying for a N.C. Parks and Recreation Trust Fund Grant.
Linn’s family has said D.C. often traveled to other towns that had historical parks and always thought Landis should have one.
The park will be named the Dr. Calvin Washington and Fanny Kluttz Corriher Park.
– Created the Landis Council of Arts and History, which would act as an advisory board to help come up with ideas for what will be a community center adjacent to the passive historical park.
The following people were recommended as members on the council: Susan Norvell, Ellen Messenger, Rick Locklear, Heather Wood, Steve Talbert, Sue Dodd, John Hall and Reed Linn.
Linn, the town administrator, said those people volunteered their time. He said the staff is considering engineering firms to do the work.
D.C. Linn had commissioned Ramsay Burgin Smith Architects to come up with a park master plan.
– Agreed to close town offices Nov. 24 at noon for the annual South Rowan Christmas Parade.
– Heard the town raised about $900 during the Fall Festival. Recreation Director Julie Noblitt said town spent a lot of money building many of the games so they could be used for other activities. The cost of the games cut into profit, but she expects to make more money for future events since the carnival games are already constructed.