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‘Granite Rocks’: Board might take its quarry-related history to the streets

By Mark Wineka

GRANITE QUARRY — The chairman of Granite Quarry’s Downtown Revitalization Committee says a “Granite Rocks” promotional theme for the town might be taken literally.

Doug Shelton told the Granite Quarry Board of Aldermen Saturday morning his committee has discussed putting something on each of the four corners at Salisbury Avenue (U.S. 52) and Bank Street, and a front-running idea actually suggests using large rocks.

Aldermen John Linker said he could see how the big planters on “the square” now could be replaced with large, polished granite rocks to give that intersection — the lone one in Granite Quarry with a stoplight — some character.

“Granite Rocks” as a branding theme harkens back to the quarries that played a big part in the town’s establishment and growth. It also reflects the community’s spirit and identity, Shelton said.

Actual rocks on the square might provide directions, they could be decorated during different seasons, or they could hold plaques or memorials, Shelton said. They could even be painted and repainted as spirit rocks, like the ones you often find outside high schools.

Shelton suggested that the selected placement of big granite rocks would not have to be confined to the downtown.

“We can expand on this and spread it out,” he said at the second day of the Board of Aldermen’s two-day retreat at Town Hall. “… We feel it’s in our mission to provide seed ideas, as well as accomplish tasks.”

Shelton says the revitalization committee has discussed various ways “to put some eye pop downtown” and often have focused on starting at the square.

Mayor Bill Feather said the best first step in redoing the square might be investing a comprehensive design for what the town wants to happen there.

If the Board of Aldermen desires, Shelton said, his committee would be willing to take the square on as an “action item.”

Shelton reviewed for the board some of the things the Downtown Revitalization Committee has tackled in the recent past. It has chosen the design and ordered town banners, which will be ready to be installed this spring.

Shelton said the banners should be suitable for all times of the year except around Christmas.

It was the Downtown Revitalization Committee that fostered a new town logo. It also has recommended, after study, against both the formation of a downtown municipal service district and creation of a downtown facade grant program.

Shelton said a municipal service district proved “unpalatable and not worth the effort.”

“We just did not feel there was enough bang for the buck to do it,” he said..

The committee is currently looking at a proposal to paint crosswalks at key intersections along U.S. 52, improving directional signs and considering different sidewalk light poles.

“Our focus is only about six blocks on Highway 52,” Shelton reminded aldermen, and the majority of properties along that vital stretch are privately owned. “We can’t go off on a wild goose chase,” Shelton said.

For now, the committee can make its most impact in town rights of way within that area, both Shelton and Feather said. The committee supports planned renovations of Town Hall, Feather said.

“The revitalization committee is an advisory group of citizens and business leaders in the community,” Shelton said. ‘The committee’s purpose is to act as a focus group and action team, providing ideas and feedback to the town staff and the board on matters related revitalizing the downtown business area.”

In other discussions at Saturday’s retreat session, Town Planner Steve Blount urged the Board of Aldermen to review the town charter to address some of the confusion in its language.

One big example, Blount pointed out, was that the town charter stipulates five aldermen, not a mayor and four aldermen, which Granite Quarry now has.

The town charter was amended in recent years to provide for an elected mayor, but the charter still also calls for five aldermen.

“There is confusion,” Blount said. “Confusion reigns at this point.”

Parts of the town charter also should be clarified as to what the mayor can and cannot do, Blount suggested. Should the mayor be allowed, for example, to make motions, participate in board debates and vote as a regular board member?

As the charter is written now, the mayor only votes to break a tie. He does not offer motions, and Feather said he tends to offer information at board meetings but stay out of board debates, because of the way the charter is written.

“Let’s clean it up,” Blount said. “Let’s say he can be a full and active member.”

The charter also says the mayor alone can appoint standing committees. Should that be revised, Blount asked, to language such as “The mayor or any alderman may suggest the (appointment) of a standing committee, board or commission, such being created by a majority vote of the board.”

Blount also encouraged the board to define and refine its standard operating procedures — things such as how to select and appoint members to boards, the flow of information from the staff to the board, the information flow from the mayor to the board, the rules of order for meetings and setting up meeting agendas.

Contact Mark Wineka at 704-797-4263.



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