Faith Road land meant for sports fields may go back on market

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 6, 2018

GRANITE QUARRY — Back in 2016, the Granite Quarry Board of Aldermen paid $20,000 for 10.1 acres off Faith Road in hopes some of the property could be used for youth athletic fields.

Arin Wilhelm, an alderman then, was a driving force in that purchase. Ever since he joined the board in 2013, Wilhelm had lobbied for a youth sports complex for activities such as soccer and lacrosse.

Wilhelm also formed the nonprofit Granite Quarry Athletic Club, which planned to use the fields.

But Monday night, aldermen voted 3-1 to put the Faith Road property back on the market, if the town receives a gift of roughly 9 acres off Faith Road on the western side of the Byrd Road-Faith Road intersection.

Wilhelm, no longer on the board and a current candidate for N.C. Senate, seemed resigned to the move. He told the board to do what it thinks is fiscally responsible.

“We’ll find a place to play,” he said Monday night.

In previous discussions, the other acreage that possibly could be donated to the town has been referred to as the “Byrd property” because Clifton “Tom” Byrd of Blythewood, South Carolina, has offered the land with some conditions.

Mayor Pro Tem Jim LaFevers and Aldermen Kim Cress and John Linker voted for Cress’ motion to unload the athletic fields site if the Byrd property becomes town-owned.

Alderman Jim Costantino, a board member of the athletic club, voted against it.

The use of the Faith Road property this year for spring lacrosse was derailed when Wilhelm had an automobile accident that put him out of commission for a while. Youth lacrosse players from Granite Quarry played instead for a Davie County club.

Plans for an adult soccer team also did not materialize this year.

A Youth Football League team not related to the athletic club had used the site for some practices. Otherwise, the property was standing idle but being mowed by the town.

After walking the land, Cress had said previously the town should consider selling it and putting it back on the tax books. He said Monday night he would like to designate any money from a possible sale toward repair and maintenance of things the town already has in place.

In February, board members agreed to see how the coming sports season and the athletic club’s involvement on the site played out before making any decisions about the property’s future.

Linker asked Wilhelm how much of the Faith Road site is actually usable. Wilhelm said most of it, though he noted the land slopes in the back and part of the playing field has standing water after a rain.

To make it better would require grading and irrigation, Wilhelm acknowledged. He said the town had discussed using another part of the 10 acres for a disc golf course. Walking trails were mentioned as another possibility.

Earlier this year, Marcel Renn of Renn Bee Farm at 2495 Faith Road offered to buy 2 acres from the town — essentially what would be the athletic fields. Renn’s bee farm is a neighbor to the site.

In other business Monday, a sinkhole in Timber Run was a matter of concern.

Town Manager Phil Conrad, several aldermen and Maintenance Director Jason Hord have inspected the hole on Timber Run Drive, just before its intersection with Hillcrest Ridge Court.

The town first learned about the sinkhole on Aug. 22.

Hord said he asked Carolina Siteworks to take a look, and company representatives have done so.

“We wanted to get a professional opinion on it,” Hord said.

He is seeking a second opinion on how it should be repaired.

“You can Band-Aid these things,” Hord said, but simply filling the hole is not necessarily the ultimate solution.

Hord said his best guess for what caused the sinkhole is that a storm drain cracked in a joint.

Conrad said communications to Timber Run residents is being aided by the neighborhood’s homeowners association. Highway cones have been placed around the sinkhole, and Mayor Bill Feather also encouraged Hord to find a heavy piece of metal to place over the hole itself until it is repaired.

On the overall safety around the present hole, Hord said, “I think we’re stable right where we’re at.”

A Timber Run resident, Fred Krusemark, appeared at the board’s Monday night meeting to seek an update on the sinkhole. He said he appreciates the town’s responsiveness.

In other business Monday night, aldermen:

• Cleaned up language in the Code of Ordinances to make it clear that enforcement of the minimum housing and public nuisances code can be handled by Granite Quarry only within the town limits and not its extraterritorial zoning jurisdiction.

Town Planner Steve Blount said he has begun a dialogue with the county about code enforcement in the extraterritorial zone.

• Heard from resident Ed Shell on his concerns and skepticism about a Bicycle and Planning Grant Initiative of the N.C. Department of Transportation. The matter was on the board’s agenda for later in the meeting, but the aldermen decided to table that discussion.

• Approved a plan from finance analyst Shelly Shockley that will invest idle funds into certificates of deposit with longer maturity dates. The town had a six-month CD that matured last month, two six-month CDs that will mature later in September and three other CDs that will mature in mid-January.

Her new plan to provide more earnings is to invest those funds and a money market account into four, four-year CDs, with a CD maturing each year.

To achieve that, she will first have to invest in a four-year CD, a 30-month CD, a two-year CD and a one-year CD.

“As these CDs mature, we can reinvest them in the four-year CDs, ensuring that the town will have one CD maturing each fiscal year,” Shockley said.

• Praised the Eagle Scout project of Noah Wiles of Troop 350. Wiles and other Scouts installed an 80-foot brick sidewalk, landscaping, five flagpole holders and two benches over two recent weekends at the American Legion building.

“They did a tremendous amount of work in two Saturdays,” Police Chief Mark Cook said.

All of the correct flagpoles (for different branches of the military) have yet to be delivered, Cook reported.

The town gave $1,500 toward the project.

Contact Mark Wineka at 704-797-4263.