By Nathan Ham
Longtime Boone Town Council member Lynne Mason has decided that after 19 years, it’s time to pass the torch on to another generation of council members.
Mason, who is the owner of Lost Province Brewing in downtown Boone, shared this decision with the town council on Thursday night and took the time to speak to the High Country Press about her decision.
“It came down to other priorities in my life, including my five wonderful grandsons,” said Mason. “The business also takes so much time and recently the town council has had so many meetings, I just could not juggle it all. It’s about balancing my personal, family and work life.”
Mason has been a part of so many decisions and accomplishments that have helped make the town of Boone the bustling mountain town that it has become. In her letter, Mason mentioned several of the items of progress she was a part of, including the New River Water Intake, purchasing the Appalachian Theatre until a non-profit could later preserve the historic building, renovating the downtown Boone post office and the upcoming Howard Street Project.
On Friday afternoon, Mason found herself picking blueberries with her grandsons, just one of the many future activities she will have more time to take part in with her family.
After this November’s election, the town council will have at least two new faces on it as Marshall Ashcraft also decided not to seek re-election this year. Mason says that there are plenty of people that are passionate about the community and the issues that will be facing the High Country in the coming months and years.
“I think there’s a lot of issues the town is having to deal with. Addressing affordable housing needs in our community is a big one. The university is still growing, we’re going to have to plan for additional student housing too, but I think development needs to be in harmony with our community,” said Mason.
Mason added that she hopes to see continued expansion of bike lanes and pedestrian walkways to add to the safety of bikers and walkers that choose to travel around Boone without using an automobile. She also touched on the issues of climate change that seem to be plaguing a large portion of the world.
“Climate change has had direct impacts that many can identify with and that has impacted our local economy. It’s something that we should take seriously,” said Mason.
While her time as a councilmember may be over, Mason says she will, without a doubt, continue to find ways to “stay involved” in the community. She is preparing to expand Lost Province Brewing in the upcoming year in addition to all of her volunteer efforts in the community.
You can read Mason’s full letter to the town council below.
It has been both an honor and privilege to serve on the Boone Town Council for the past nineteen years. During my time on Council I have had the honor of working with many community members, Council Members and Town Staff towards building a better Boone today and for generations to come. I brought a real passion and vision for our community and a commitment to work on preserving and enhancing the quality of life so unique to this area. I am proud of my record of accomplishments during my five terms.
As I reflect on the past 19 years, the accomplishments that I am most proud of include: adopting the Steep Slope Ordinance; advocating for the Town to purchase the Appalachian Theatre until a non-profit committed to preserving the theatre could assume ownership (so we would not lose this historic treasure downtown); supporting the purchase and renovation of the Downtown Post Office; working for downtown improvements including preservation of historic buildings, streetscape improvements and the soon to be Howard Street project; protecting our neighborhoods to keep them desirable places to live; promoting diverse and affordable housing; initiating Walk Boone to make our community more walkable; improving alternative transportation including the adoption of the Pedestrian and Bicycle Plans; making Boone more walkable and bikeable through sidewalk, bike lane and greenway expansion including the greenway connector behind the high school; making skateboards and other human powered transportation allowed uses; initiating the fare free bus system for all community members; seeing the water intake project to completion to meet the future water needs of Boone; supporting community sustainability initiatives to address climate change; preserving green space and natural areas including Town Parks; adopting the urban forest plan to insure we maintain an adequate tree canopy, advocating for our local businesses, and cultivating more collaborative relations with ASU, Watauga County and other local governments.
After careful thought and consideration, I have decided not to seek another term. Anything that I commit to doing, I give 100 percent. When I first ran in 2001, I had two young adult children, one still in high school and the other in college. They both chose to return to Boone and I now have five wonderful grandsons, 9 months to 13 years of age that I enjoy spending time with. I also have a local independent family business to run that requires much of my time. Due to the number and length of Council meetings, I can no longer continue to commit the time required to be an effective council member and to have time for the other commitments and priorities in my life. This is a very hard decision, as I have so enjoyed serving our community.
Though I am proud of what has been accomplished, I leave recognizing that there is still important work to be done. Some of my concerns include: the lack of progress with affordable and diverse housing in our community; the slow pace of sidewalk and bike lane improvements to make our community less dependable on vehicles and more sustainable; the impacts of climate change on our local community and the need for action; the increasing issues with storm water and flooding; the elimination of many of our guiding plans without updating our 2006 Comprehensive Plan; the application of mixed use development by developers has not resulted in the desired outcome of preserving space for business and providing diverse housing options, which needs to be addressed in the UDO; and the scale of new development (height, setbacks, overall size) is not consistent with Boone’s community character, which also needs to be addressed in the UDO.
Thank you Boone Community for your confidence and trust in allowing me to serve our community over the past 19 years! What an honor and privilege it has been. This is not goodbye, as I will remain active in our community, and I am not closing the door to future opportunities to serve our great community.
With Gratitude, Lynne Mason