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Clemmons catches up after year of COVID

By Jim Buice
For the Clemmons Courier

As it turned out, one retreat wasn’t enough for the Clemmons Village Council and staff in 2020.

Blame it on COVID-19.

With all the changes that impacted Clemmons since the usual annual retreat in March, the village decided to add a fall retreat to see how priorities may have changed and where things stand now with the approach of a new year.

So the village decided to hold a fall retreat/work session before the last previous regular council meeting in late November.

“It was a special session to go over things from the last six months and try to come up for air from COVID and get back to things we discussed earlier in the spring,” Mayor John Wait said. “It was a very productive session.”

The agenda included stormwater, village hall, general items and other updates.

Stormwater issues have taken center stage in the village over the last few months with several significant storms, more projects being added to the Capital Improvement Program list and the Stormwater Advisory Board being dissolved.

“The council has assumed that role, but they have been involved all along,” Village Manager Scott Buffkin said. “Of course, they have been involved all along. We went through several proposals that have been discussed as how that may evolve.”

In the retreat, Wes Kimbrell, stormwater engineer, advised the council on what the village needs and how to get there regarding funding for the stormwater program and projects.

Kimbrell said that there are two ways to structure the funding — residential flat fee (equivalent residential unit rate of $100-$120/year) or a residential tired system (minimizes impact by scaling in residential owners).

He and Public Works Director Mike Gunnell said that the storms are becoming stronger and more frequent and that the current infrastructure was mostly built in the 1970s and 1980s — with anticipated functionality being about 50 years.

Buffkin said that there was “quite a bit of discussion about a new facility for village hall and while that is a long-term goal, it is not an immediate priority at this point.”

Clemmons also is considering upgrades for the current village hall and reviewing how to reconfigure space after the retirement of its senior administrative assistant and the shift to hiring a planning tech — along with other considerations.

“Perhaps one bright spot that may come out of this situation is shining some light on the fact that we don’t need as much space as we may have thought,” Buffkin said. “Out of necessity, we have had to work remotely, and with new technology that can be accomplished, and the public doesn’t see any diminished services. If that’s the case, then we may need to reassess how much room we need to have and what upgrades we can make to this facility, if any.”

In other items, Buffkin advised the council of the consultant’s recommendation that the village should allocate $1 million/100 miles of streets in order to maintain them and that Clemmons has 82 miles of streets. It was suggested to provide $800,000 for spring paving with council consensus to direct staff to present a budget amendment to reallocate funds.

Also, Buffkin said that the tentative opening for the new library will be March 2021 and that In a conversation with Damon Sanders-Pratt, assistant county manager, regarding the existing library that there has not been much thought or any decisions as to what the county intends to do with that property.

The usual annual retreat for 2021 is planned for March, but Buffkin said this unique fall retreat served its purpose.

“It was beneficial for staff to understand and for council to hear from staff what difficulties we have experienced over these last several months,” Buffkin said, “and how priorities may need to change as council sees fits. It’s a new reality.”