DBDA commits funding to parking costs
by Anna Oakes
The Downtown Boone Development Association board of directors on Thursday voted to commit a portion of future downtown tax revenues to help the town of Boone pay for new parking infrastructure, including pay stations and smart meters.
The Boone Town Council is working to implement a paid parking system in downtown Boone, with plans evolving since budget discussions in the spring.
The latest plan would install "smart" parking meters (which accept credit card payments) at on-street parking spaces and pay stations in the town's Depot Street and King Street parking lots.
"I feel like it would be a pretty simple system," said Boone Downtown Coordinator Virginia Falck.
Falck said estimated costs of the new system range from $230,000 to $260,000 and that the town would likely need to secure a short-term loan for purchase of the equipment.
The DBDA is a nonprofit that contracts with the town for administration of Municipal Service District (downtown) tax revenue.
The MSD is slated to receive $44,000 in additional revenue this fiscal year as a result of the recent change in local sales tax distribution, and the DBDA committed this year's "windfall" amount to parking infrastructure costs.
The DBDA board on Thursday voted to continue allocating the windfall amount -- up to $44,000 each year -- for up to three years or until the equipment costs are paid in full.
The board also agreed to partner with the Appalachian Theatre of the High Country in applying for a $75,000 to $100,000 grant from the N.C. Department of Commerce's Main Street Solutions Fund.
The Appalachian Theatre hopes to secure the grant as part of fundraising efforts to renovate and re-open the historic downtown theater.
The board discussed, but took no action, on a proposal to commit funding toward a downtown traffic study.
Boone Cultural Resources Director Pilar Fotta reminded the board that a traffic study is the next step in a revised plan for Howard Street renovations following a new design by a Virginia architect.
"The design that they have works with the easements we have," Fotta said, but the town needs to know if a one-way street can work on the Howard Street section from Depot Street to Appalachian Street.
DBDA board members said they wanted more information about the scope of such a study and the possibility of other partners, including Appalachian State University.
Fotta said she would discuss the traffic study with the Boone Town Council, as well.
Falck announced the election of downtown property owner Andy Stallings and mediator and attorney Robb Olsen to the DBDA board for three-year terms. The board voted to appoint Colton Lenz, manager and co-owner of Char, to fill a term vacated by Jason Berry.
The board elected Olsen as president, replacing Dempsey Wilcox.
Bob Meier, Evalyn Sudderth and Jamie Goodman were elected as vice president, treasurer and secretary, respectively.
Falck announced plans for a DBDA Membership Luncheon on Sept. 18 to facilitate open, casual discussion between MSD members.
For more information, visit http://www.downtownboonenc.com or call (828) 262-4532.