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Four-lane road inside Tanglewood should help with festival traffic

By Jim Buice
For the Clemmons Courier

A road-widening project just inside Tanglewood Park’s entrance should help provide a smoother ride for those looking forward to attending this year’s Festival of Lights.

Forsyth County commissioners approved a paving project earlier this year at an estimated $1 million to widen the road from two lanes to four lanes, which will allow more vehicles to line up inside the park rather than backing up on U.S. 158, Harper Road and other connecting roads. Funding came from a $15 million bond package that county voters approved in 2016.

Sgt. Brian Gieger, who heads the Clemmons community policing division of the Sheriff’s Department, said in an update during Monday night’s Clemmons Village Council meeting that according to the maintenance department at Tanglewood, the road is pretty much finished.

“They have some paving left yet to do,” Gieger said. “Part will be paved, part will be gravel. Where the (old) steeplechase area is, it used to be two lanes. It’s four lanes wide now — two lanes going in, two lanes coming out. It’s going to circle the whole steeplechase area.”

Sometimes, especially on weekends, traffic backs up for an hour or more for those trying to enter the park for the Festival of the Lights. In addition, residents in nearby neighborhoods and businesses are impacted.

The council approved the resolution of support for Forsyth County in January to construct an enhanced traffic flow and stacking design for Tanglewood Park’s special events, including the Festival of Lights, which typically averages 250,000-plus visitors a year in November and December.

The resolution stated “the proposed project will make traffic control less burdensome for the Forsyth County sheriff’s deputies, will help improve access for local businesses and decrease complaints and safety concerns from Clemmons residents.”

Mayor John Wait said, “I know that was one of the goals was to get the traffic off the road even more on a year when there’s going to be more traffic than normal. At least that’s what we anticipate.”

Councilwoman Michelle Barson also asked about online advance ticket purchasing to help with traffic flow. Gieger said he would check and see if that might be a possibility at an upcoming meeting.

“They started doing debit cards, and that seemed to hold things up a little bit instead of everyone paying cash,” Gieger said.

In a business item in Monday night’s meeting, the council voted to continue moving forward with dissolving the Stormwater Advisory Board after raising concerns in the previous meeting about the need to streamline events and responding to stormwater issues in the most efficient, effective and quickest way possible.

Wes Kimbrell, stormwater engineer, said that “the important thing for all of you to know is that all of these responsibilities ultimately fall back at your feet. The final decision is made here in this room by you all as council.

“The staff feels at this time based on the maturity and establishment of our current program that the Stormwater Advisory Board has fulfilled all duties required to help establish and implement an EPA compliant program. The most efficient manner of reviewing, altering or discussing the current stormwater program and its components would be through council.”

Kimbrell added that the Kernersville Stormwater Advisory Board was only in place for one or two years before reverting all responsibilities back to the Board of Aldermen.

Also in Monday night’s meeting, the council approved removing Tanglebrook 2 from the Capital Improvement List after receiving an email from Linda and David Turley of 3438 Tanglebrook Trial stating the money spent to upsize a pipe “does not benefit any of the properties that it serves” and that the money could be “spent on a project of bigger importance.”

In addition, the council discussed the tree save requirement with councilwoman Mary Cameron stating she thought “if we’re looking into stormwater regulations and possibly changing some, this goes hand in glove with stormwater.”

Kimbrell said that regarding trees and stormwater, “the amount of area that is going to be required to get any kind of mitigative credits out of stormwater runoff with tree save, you’re not going to have it with most of the development sites that we have left here in Clemmons.”

Cameron countered, “If everything we’ve got is working just fine now, leave it alone, but if there’s something else we can do, let’s look at it.”

Public Works Director Mike Gunnell also offered a clarification of Lasater Road’s status on the CIP List mentioned in the last meeting. The road didn’t make the cut to be added to the CIP list and Gunnell said at the time it was being evaluated by a third party but that the road only affected one resident.

In Monday night’s meeting, he said that two other projects on Innisfail Lane and Innisfail Court, which are above Lasater, are being evaluated as a whole — not just the one residence.

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

• Approved a budget amendment with Waste Management for an additional second bulk pickup, with 60 days notice, for an overall price increase of $16,500. The first bulk pickup is typically in March.

• Heard from Village Manager Scott Buffkin about the pending retirement of administrative assistant Patty Fife and the possibility of evolving that position into a planning technician to fill a growing staff need.

• Heard from Shannon Ford, marketing and communications director, who said that the final Clemmons Farmers Market of the 2020 season drew a crowd of over 100 at the Jerry Long YMCA last Saturday morning despite rainy conditions. Ford said that plans are in place for a pop-up market on Sunday afternoon, Nov. 22, including Thanksgiving meal preparations and holiday shopping.

• Heard from Cameron, who said that Ford will be working with the Friends of the Library to get the word out as a program is started for brick pavers for the new library, which Cameron said “this library is actually moving right along as you can see the brick is on now, and it’s getting there.” Ford added, “We have to paint the entire area. We get such a response for people wanting pavers.”

• Heard a discussion on formulating a policy concerning sponsorship requests from outside organizations and agencies for donations from the village.

• Went into a closed session to discuss property acquisition.