Landis officials launching committee with citizens to begin work on passive park project

Published 3:33 pm Tuesday, July 13, 2021

By Natalie Anderson
natalie.anderson@salisburypost.com

LANDIS — A dream held by longtime Landis residents D.C. and Frances Linn to create a park in the town is inching closer toward becoming a reality.

The Board of Aldermen on Monday decided to move forward with the project by opening a call for interested citizens to join a committee beginning work on the park.

Landis acquired from the family six lots located on the east side of U.S. 29 after their deaths in 2009. Selling the lots would be enough to fund the passive park, which is similar to a typical neighborhood park but includes features such as benches, picnic areas, gardens and walking trails.

Mayor Meredith Smith said Monday that a layout of the park was presented to town officials in 2019, and a subsequent grant request was denied. However, some money is already in a fund for the park.

“There is a vision,” she said. “It just hasn’t been talked about in two years.”

Town manager Diane Seaford suggested the town consider forming a committee consisting of two board members, five Landis residents and up to two town employees to begin making recommendations for fundraising the project. Smith said some money for the park may come from the budget, but fundraising is another possibility, which could include the purchase of benches, flags and bricks in memory of past residents.

Board member Katie Sells said she’s been approached by local residents interested in helping get the project started. Board members agreed to begin accepting written and verbal communication expressing interest from citizens. After suggestion from Mayor Pro Tem Ashley Stewart, the board set a deadline of Aug. 3 for interested residents to contact Town Clerk Amber Levi at alevi@townoflandis.com or 704-857-2411.

“I would like to see this up soon,” Sells said. “We have a lot of ideas.”

Stewart said the selection process needs to be equitable and open.

The board agreed to have Smith and Sells on the committee as well as Parks and Recreation Director Jessica Stamper. Seaford also said she’d like to be part of the committee after more discussion with Stamper.

Also at the meeting, Seaford told board members the town is expected to receive a little more than $1 million from the federal American Rescue Plan, which is being funneled down from the federal government and through the state. The funds will be allocated in two separate installments and are limited to specific uses, which include public health expenses, water, sewer and broadband infrastructure, lost revenue in the public sector and premium pay for essential workers.

Board members also approved the establishment of a grant project ordinance specifically for such funds, which must be exhausted by 2026. As board members decide how to spend the money, Seaford said she will update the fund with line-item expenses as needed.

Also at the meeting:

• Board members voted to hold a public hearing at the Aug. 9 meeting for a voluntary annexation request from Jack, Deborah and Bryan Roach. The family is requesting a .47-acre parcel located on the 3000 block of North Cannon Boulevard to be annexed into the town’s limits. The land is assessed at $66,000 in tax value. The Landis Planning Board will meet Tuesday and deliver recommendations at the Aug. 9 Board of Aldermen meeting. In addition to approval or denial of the request, the land will need a zoning designation within the new land development ordinance and zoning map.

• In an effort to retain officers in the Public Safety Department, a $1-per-hour raise will be granted for police officers working the third shift. The raise would apply to the shift worked rather than any particular individual, and it would add an additional $1-per-hour worked during third shift.

• Town officials are looking into the installation of rumble strips rather than speed bumps on South Zion Street to mitigate complaints from nearby residents of speeding. Rumble strips are grooves or rows of indents in the pavement designed to alert inattentive drivers. In October, town alderman voted to prohibit trucks from traveling on North Zion Street from West Blume Street to West Limit Street out of concern for speeding and potential traffic incidents. Mayor Smith said she’d like to see the speed limit signs in that area more visible.

• The town approved two amendments to the 2020-21 budget, which ended June 30. One amendment moves $2,500 from the recreation materials line item to the general fund debt account, which includes the town’s loans. Seaford said it’s a year-end adjustment as the town’s loan payoff amounts were slightly more than what was budgeted for the 2020-21 fiscal year. The other allocates $28,500 in salaries and Social Security compensation within the electric fund. The increase was offset by decreases to equipment and maintenance expenses in the same fund. Seaford said it isn’t an ongoing, recurring expense and only discovered the fund was short on salaries after reviewing it on June 29. Salaries have been properly allocated in the 2021-22 budget, she said. Board members adopted $685,000 in full-time salaries in the electric fund for 2021-22, and $670,124 in the 2020-21 budget.

• Board members approved the town’s Cyber Disaster Recovery Plan policy along with its cash handling policy. The cash handling policy outlines expectations of all employees handling cash or other forms of payment throughout the various departments and how they must be transported between locations.

• Board members approved a letter Seaford will submit to the county this week stating the town no longer needs county assistance in administration and enforcement of the town’s flood damage and prevention ordinance. Such maintenance will be conducted by N Focus, a firm in Kannapolis the town uses for its planning and zoning administration. The interlocal agreement, however, calls on the county to continue providing building code administration and enforcement.

• Seaford provided an update on the town’s search for a Public Works director and finance officer positions following the recent resignation of Ron Miller and Pam Dubois. Applications have been narrowed and one interview conducted for Public Works, with a goal to hire for the position by September. However, with a much smaller applicant pool for the finance position, Seaford said staff are working through a few short- and long-term solutions.

Contact reporter Natalie Anderson at 704-797-4246.