China Grove aldermen vote to gravel parking lot
By Jessie Burchette
CHINA GROVE ó Aldermen have agreed to fill and gravel a new parking lot near the Little League Park, despite the strenuous and loud objections of Alderman Allen Welter.
During a budget session Tuesday night, alderman brought up the parking lot issue once again.
The town bought the property nearly two years ago with plans to create a parking lot. Instead, it became a dumping area.
Last month, Alderman Ron Overcash tried to get approval to fix the lot for immediate use during the ball season that’s under way.
Welter led the opposition, convincing the board to wait until the town has major street repairs made later this year. He said the asphalt grindings could be used to fix the lot at very little cost.
Overcash cited the potential danger for children in the area of the ballpark made worse by the lack of nearby parking. At the March meeting, he challenged aldermen to take a look at the situation.
Taking a look apparently won over the board.
Alderman Lee Withers brought the issue back to the board Tuesday night. He said the lot needs to be repaired, citing the danger to children moving through the traffic as drivers try to find parking spots.
An incensed Welter cited his efforts to bring money into the town’s coffers, including instituting an adequate public facilities fee and getting the gas company to pay for running a line along a town street.
“I’d like you to bring in some money!” Welter yelled at Withers. “You cure some of your problems.”
Welter said the town had spent $100,000 on the Little League field.
“Why don’t you people raise some money, you guys sell some hot dogs,” Welter said, his voice growing continuously louder.
During a break in Welter’s tirade, Overcash made a motion to accept the low bid of $24,500 and repair the lot.
Welter then focused on Mayor Don Bringle, questioning him about how much time he spends at the Little League Park.
“Why are you bringing me in?” asked Bringle, who had previously sided with Welter in urging the project be delayed until the street grinding and resurfacing is completed.
“There’s a motion on the floor,” Overcash said more than once, attempting to get the attention of Bringle, who was busy fending off Welter’s blasts.
Overcash made the motion again with Withers adding a second.
Welter wasn’t finished, unleashing another blast and saying the Little League field had operated 30 years without the parking lot.
He threw in a reference to Farmers Day, the town’s annual festival.
“If you create a problem, you should be responsible,” Welter said, suggesting the nonprofit Little League organization should deal with traffic and parking.
Bringle called for a vote and Overcash, Withers and Alderman Butch Bivens voted to repair the lot.
Welter voted against the motion, adding, “What a waste of money.”
As the board adjourned, Welter directed his fire at Withers, saying he had promised to help the town’s citizens, but wasn’t doing it.
Withers and other alderman stood silently as Welter continued to yell as he left the room and went through the building to the side parking lot.
David Ketner, public works director, said the contractor should be able to make the improvements to the lot within a few days.