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Council looks at traffic concerns around West Forysth

By Jim Buice
For the Clemmons Courier

The Clemmons Village Council is taking a second look at traffic and safety concerns at West Forsyth High School and the surrounding area.

In Tuesday night’s meeting at village hall, councilwoman Michelle Barson said she and Mayor John Wait recently met with the school board and Mayor Mike Horn from Lewisville to talk about strategies “in different ways to look at the problem as well as the solution.”

Barson said that it was important to be able to act proactively when it comes time to advocate to any future developers along Lewisville-Clemmons Road and the surrounding area, including West Forsyth, Southwest Elementary as well as the other private schools.

“We are in the very early stages of any type of conversation and we’ll let everyone know about any next steps,” Barson said.

Wait added that “our discussion was really about what are common sense things that we can do right now and then also in the future and what improvements need to be done. Like Holder Road is a complete debacle. What do we do at that intersection? We talked about that. We talked about the parking. We talked about a lot of different issues.”

Councilwoman Pamela (PJ) Lofland said that “people are practically begging for a stoplight at Holder Road” and that it is “desperately needed. It is horrible. And something’s got to be done ultimately at West Forsyth. They need more land. They need more parking.”

Earlier this year, the council had multiple discussions about the safety concerns at West Forsyth with much of that being the result of students parking at Friends Baptist Church, which is on the opposite side of the street from the school, in the 2018-19 school year.

That finally resulted In a meeting involving school officials, church officials, public safety officers and a number of parents and led to River Oaks Community Church, which is on the same side of the street as the high school and allowed parking in its lot previously but discontinued it in the previous school year because of a number of incidents and safety concerns, agreed to again allow students to park on its campus again.

Also in Tuesday night’s meeting, Barson reported on village staff presenting a draft Business District Improvement Grant Program this summer designed to use funds received from the N.C. Department of Commerce Grant for downtown revitalization purposes.

However, she said that after the draft program was presented some concerns were raised as to whether the program was a permissible use of any public funds.

That resulted in a meeting among Barson, Wait and Village Manager Scott Buffkin with Tyler Mulligan at the UNC School of Government, where it became evident to all involved that the program, as conceived, could not go forward.

However, she said that it was recently shared at a council meeting that the scope of the Lewisville-Clemmons Road Improvement Project has grown and there will likely be opportunities available to businesses along that corridor that the grant program was designed to focus on, which included improved exterior access and cross access points.

“While we wait for that project to be designed, we can continue to identify other, small projects throughout Clemmons, similar to the Market Center Drive project currently underway,” she said. “It will also give us time to see how the wayfinding signage partnership in the Publix shopping center turns out and if it has the potential to be expanded throughout our entire shopping district. It is my recommendation that we hold these funds and ask for staff to advise on other opportunities to invest in.”

In other highlights from Tuesday night’s meeting, the council:

• Heard from Wait that outgoing members of the current council will be recognized at the Nov. 25 meeting and that the incoming council members will be sworn in at the Dec. 9 meeting.

• Heard from Andrew Wild in the public comments portion of the meeting. With the upcoming transition after the election, Wild said he wanted to thank the current council for all that they’ve done, and especially to Lofland for the “great service extended to the community” and to councilman Mike Combest, saying he was “the epitome of a civil servant” and “especially for your work on the Tanglewood Business Park, and playing a huge part in bringing about the outcome we have today.”

• Approved a request from Buffkin to declare the old street sweeper as surplus as the new sweeper is now in service. Buffkin said that the village would seek to find another municipality to purchase the old sweeper.

• Heard from Mayor John Wait that the Village of Clemmons will be closed Thursday and Friday, Nov. 28-29, for Thanksgiving, and that trash pickup on those two days will be delayed one day.

• Heard from Shannon Ford in the marketing/communications report that the annual Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony at village hall will be Tuesday, Dec. 3, at 6:30 p.m., with Dec. 5 as the rain date. She said there would be some snow showers, perhaps a visit by Santa, hot chocolate and cookies.