Boone Town Council Meets Thursday: Noise, Ginseng, S. Water Street Takeover and More

Published Thursday, March 19, 2015 at 10:40 am

By Jesse Wood

The Boone Town Council will meet on Thursday, March 19, at 5:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers on Blowing Rock Road.

Below is a synopsis of some of the agenda items to be discussed by the council on Thursday:

Resolution To Take Over Maintenance of South Water Street

The Boone Town Council will consider a resolution to petition the N.C. Department of Transportation to release South Water Street from the state system and place it on the town’s municipal maintenance program.

The stretch of road consists of .09 miles from Rivers Street to King Street. According to information in the meeting’s packet, Public Works Streets Superintendent Greg Hollars and consultant Mike Wilson noted that control of the street is a pro, while long-term maintenance responsibilities is a con.

The asphalt of the 500-foot stretch along South Water Street is 44-foot wide and the width from back of curbs is 49 feet. According to a conditions assessment:

  • Box culvert at Southern States is in “good condition”
  • Storm drainage infrastructure is adequate with some “cleanup and general maintenance required”
  • One of the seven catch basins is in need of immediate repair
  • Pavement needs sectional patching and crack sealing soon
  • Milling and resurfacing is needed in five to six years
  • Sections of curbing and sidewalk need repair or replacing soon

As Hollars and Wilson noted in an assessment, this proposal – if approved by the NCDOT – would allow the Town of Boone more control over this stretch of road, adjacent to where the redevelopment of the Southern States property and the town-owned “Rivers-Coffey” properties are located.

In August, the Boone Town Council heard a presentation titled “West Downtown Alive,” which included conceptual plans for a new-looking South Water Street. This plan included bike lanes, a median, a roundabout at Rivers Street/Poplar Grove Road and a crossing walk leading from the proposed greenway trail on the Southern States property to Howard Street, which the town has eyed for improvements for years.

“It will play into [the nearby changes coming], but I won’t say it’s for that,” Public Works Director Rick Miller said on Monday, adding that the Town of Boone and NCDOT have been in conversation about this takeover for a couple years now.

Historical Marker for Local Ginseng Trade

The Boone Town Council will consider a request from the Historic Preservation Commission authorizing the commission to apply for a North Carolina highway historical marker for the ginseng trade.

The deadline to apply is April and the application has already been completed.

The marker would be located at Wilcox Drug Emporium Warehouse, located on Howard’s Street. Included in the application is an essay that notes that local export companies, such as Appalachian Evergreen and Wilcox Drug Company, traded local botanical products, such as ginseng, in the global marketplace.

Those two companies merged in 1982 to become Wilcox Natural Products when Swiss-firm Zuellig Group North America bought out the companies. In 2000, Wilcox Natural Products closed.

According to the essay, General Grant Wilcox started the Wilcox Drug Company in 1900 after moving to Watauga County from Ashe County. Wilcox opened the original location on the southern side of Howard Street and eventually moved across the street in 1944, where the “warehouse” is today a mixed-use development of student housing and restaurants.

“By 1976, Wilcox Drug Co. was the largest purchaser of botanical goods in the United States,” the essay read. “[Appalachian Evergreen and Wilcox Drug Company] were at the forefront of the Southern Appalachian ginseng trade with China during the 20th century.”

Two inscriptions are suggested for the proposed historical marker:

The first choice:

Ginseng Trade with China

Native root prized for its medicinal uses in China. Harvested by locals since the 1800s. Traded by Wilcox Drug in Boone 1900 – 2000.

The second choice:

Ginseng Trade with China

Prized medicinal root reaped by locals Betsy Calloway and Bacchus Smith for China trade in 1800s, sold 1900s by Wilcox Drug, nearby.

Read the entire fascinating essay here. Scroll down to page 90 in the meeting packet.

Sustainable Task Force Items

Councilman Quint David put on the agenda an item to direct staff “to provide an interpretation as to how and if the code can promote [solar] panels.”

In a separate agenda item, David is seeking action from council to authorize staff to work with the Sustainable Task Force regarding the possibility of a small solar picnic shelter and/or bus stop located at Jimmy Smith Park near the intersection of Rivers Street and South Depot Street.

Funding for More Salt

Public Works Director Rick Miller is requesting a budget amendment to purchase of more salt after the numerous winter-weather days.

“Thus far, we have consumed 1,364 tons of salt over the course of 12 snow/ice events. This leaves approximately 440 tons for the remainder of the season. Requested funds of $104,150 will cover the cost of an additional 1,000 tons and will insure adequate supplies for the remainder of the winter,” Miller wrote in a memo to council.

Middle Fork Greenway

The Middle Fork Greenway Association is seeking $28,000 in funding from the Town of Boone for the Boone section of the Middle Fork Greenway, which is a 6.5-acre trail that will connect Boone to Blowing Rock once complete.

The group is also requesting the town adopt the Middle Fork Greenway master plan as part of its Boone BikeWalk Plan; incorporate it into the Wellness District planning; accommodate the greenway as undeveloped parcels begin to be developed; and incorporate it into the design of the new ASU College of Health Sciences being built near the hospital.

“The funds will be held by Blue Ridge Conservancy and used to engage a planning and designing consultant to work with us and the town to provide detailed alignment for the greenway between Jordan Cook Road to the connection with the existing Boone Greenway,” according to a letter from Middle Fork Greenway Executive Director Ann Browning.

Upcoming Changes to Noise Ordinance?

The Boone Town Council will consider drafted amendments to the noise ordinance that the council voted for 3-2 at February’s meeting. The proposals had to be in writing before the council could vote on the changes.

Read more about these changes in a story written after February meeting.

Other topics:

License with Watauga County Farmers’ Market

Renewal of Lease Agreement With County for Rec Fields

Agenda is attached below. To see the entire packet, click here.




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