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Blowing Rock Town Council Meeting Tuesday: 321 Landscaping Plan, Downtown Beautification Concepts

By Jesse Wood

The Blowing Rock Town Council will hold its monthly meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 10 at 6 p.m. Two agenda items are the U.S. 321 landscaping plan and conceptual designs for downtown Blowing Rock near the American Legion building. 

The meeting will take place at Town Hall in downtown Blowing Rock. See the agenda and meeting packet here. 

Kipp Turner of Maymead will provide his monthly update on the nearly-complete U.S. 321 widening project. The “town section” is all but finished, while the “mountain section,” from South 321 Business to Blackberry Road, still has the final layer of asphalt, a few retaining walls, fencing, guard rails and more to be complete. The final layer of asphalt, Turner said in September, will likely be put down next spring when temperatures are warmer.

The major agenda items that the Blowing Rock Town Council will address are the N.C. Department of Transportation’s landscaping plan for U.S. 321. Landscaping isn’t actually part of the contract for the U.S. 321 widening project. Blowing Rock Town Manager Ed Evans showed those in attendance at last month’s State of the Town meeting a preview of the design. See attached photo of slideshow.

The council will also consider the approval of a conceptual design to beautify and address safety concerns of the green space behind the American Legion building and connectors to the Broyhill Park and other adjacent areas.

The design comes from a team of students from Virginia Tech and was funded through a N.C. Forestry Service grant that the town received in April 2017. See the designs below.

An ADA-accessible ramp connects the American Legion building parking lot and public parking garage to the trails surrounding Mayview Lake. Two overlooks along the ramp serve as resting points and social gathering spaces. Lighting allows pedestrians and bicyclists to use the hillside at night.
Park Avenue, currently dangerous for pedestrians, is improved by adding rain gardens with street lighting to separate the pedestrian sidewalk from the vehicular traffic. Blowing Rock town vehicles and staff can still access the various service bays and building entrances along Park Avenue as they currently do.
At the base of the backside of the American Legion building is an open green lawn for recreation activities. A stone retaining wall creates a larger lawn and overlook facing Mayview Lake and the gazebo. String lighting is placed under the deck to create a welcoming atmosphere in the evening hours.
The service area of the American Legion building is converted into a pedestrian friendly space with a dedicated crossing, seating walls, plantings, and signage. The asphalt is replaced with pavers and concrete, while still allowing service vehicles to access the bottom floor of the American Legion building.
Wallingford Road parking is reorganized into parallel parking with rain garden planters to slow vehicular traffic in an area of heavy pedestrian traffic. The crosswalk serves as a speed bump to slow down traffic and to create a more ADA-friendly crossing. The plaza serves as a place for picnicking and social gathering along the street.
The connection from the American Legion building and public parking deck to Memorial Park is widened by removing six feet of the existing tennis court surface. Office entrances on the backside of the building are more welcoming as the landscaping is complimented by a mural and wooden pergola.