An update from our meeting on Monday:

-We had a good conversation about the plans for the new Rec Center. Overall, the plans incorporate most of what we were trying to accomplish with this building. At a very high level, there will be three indoor basketball courts on the first floor and then an indoor running track on the second floor. There are also a variety of different rooms to facilitate different types of training/classes and exercise. The second floor will also have some flex use space attached to a patio overlooking the Catawba that will be available to rent. We also talked about locating the proposed skate park at the Rec Center site (as opposed to locating it in Davis Park). The Parks and Rec Board will discuss this further when they review the Rec Center plans later this week.

-Council also talked through a strategy for our paving program. We decided to continue with our data-driven approach (based on the results of the last street condition survey) for the fall and will look to do a larger program once the loan balance from the last large paving program is paid off next Spring. I requested that we set aside some funds in that larger program for sidewalk repair/extension. With COVID, more people are out using our sidewalks, and I know that some of them could use a little TLC. If you happen to notice any sidewalks around town that need some work (especially if they present a tripping hazard), or if there are any gaps between sections of sidewalk where it might make sense to create a connection, please let me know so that I can add it to my list.

-Council also ordered the demolition of the building at 951 Cason Street (across from Linford Park). Per staff, actual demolition should begin in about 3-4 weeks, and then it will take roughly four weeks to take the building down. Based on that, demo should be complete sometime in October.

-We also had an interesting conversation about affordable housing. Staff provided an overview of some of the strategies that other municipalities employ in this area, and we directed them to continuing researching best practices so that we can decide what makes sense for Belmont. Representatives from Habitat for Humanity also made a presentation about a small (28 home) mixed-income development that they are trying to put together on a site in North Belmont (off Lee Road). Apparently, this particular project almost came to fruition several years ago but fell apart due to some funding issues. They are still in the early phases of this project, but we encouraged them to continue communicating with us as they move forward.

The next City Council workshop is Monday, July 20 at 4pm at TechWorks. The livestream will continue to be available at cityofbelmont.org/livemeetings.
 
During this meeting, we will be taking a look at our major development process for land use and zoning decisions. Staff will provide a presentation on our current state, and then Council will discuss potential improvements to the process. Some of the things we’ll be looking at are facilitating public input earlier in the process, use of conditional rezoning vs. by-right development, and residential building setbacks. This will be an important conversation and do a lot to inform how we approach new development for the next few years.
 
We will also be considering a utility repayment plan to help rehabilitate past-due water and sewer accounts once the Governor’s moratorium on utility disconnections expires on July 29. There is currently about $100k in outstanding balances due to the city and, the proposed plan will allow customers with past-due accounts up to 6 months to pay off their balances, balancing the needs of our customers while ensuring that we continue to manage our utility fund in a fiscally responsible manner.
 
The Catawba Riverkeepers have also approached the city about operating a kayak rental program at Kevin Loftin Park. The city owns several kayaks that were purchased with the intent of operating our own program, however staffing and other costs associated with such a program have complicated its roll-out. The agreement with the Riverkeepers would allow them to operate their own program (as a fundraiser) with the city responsible for providing the kayaks (which we already own) and the Riverkeepers responsible for the operating expenses and liability. City residents would be eligible for a discount on the hourly rental rates. This seems like a good way to get a kayaking program started and creates a win-win for the city and the Riverkeepers.
 
The final item on the agenda is a contract that would rehabilitate the sidewalk along South Main Street between Oak Street and Eagle Road and then extend it from Belmont Reserve to Dogwood Lane.
 
You can find the full agenda here: https://cityofbelmont.civicweb.net/Portal/MeetingInformation.aspx?Org=Cal&Id=430