ELK PARK — Due to ongoing concerns over the prevalence of COVID-19 nationwide, the Elk Park Board of Aldermen moved to temporarily close Winters Town Park effective immediately, during its April 6, 2020, meeting.
Citing concerns that the coronavirus can remain on plastic and other surfaces over long periods of time, the board did not want to put the danger of any area children or families at risk by continuing to keep the park open as other municipalities in the area have closed the gates to their parks.
In previous months, the board discussed the town’s water and sewer rates, which currently stand at $20/month for sewer and a flat cost of $17.25 for water up to the first 3,000 gallons of water use by a customer, with amounts increasing based upon percentages.
Mayor Daniel Boone explained that the board discussed the increase of water rates by a 25-cent margin annually, but explained that if the town opted for a single rate increase of $1.75 to the rate of $19, it could generate approximately $8,000 of additional revenue from in-town water customers.
Boone added that Elk Park had the lowest base rate among area municipalities for water service and, following a period of discussion, the board consented to increase the monthly base rate $1.75/month from $17.25 to $19, a total rate increase of $21 per customer for the year for up to 3,000 gallons of water used, beginning in the month of July.
Along the same line, aldermen discussed the water-loss issues the town has been experiencing within its system, noting that the town is having a loss rate of 40 to 50 percent due to system leaks. Mayor Boone noted that NC Rural Water Association came to assist the town with finding a significant leak and recommended the town consider investing in a leak detector. Boone quoted a price of approximately $6,000 for a leak detector.
“We are losing 50 percent, which is making our chemicals go up and light bill go up,” Boone explained. “Pumps are not made to run 24/7 and it’s wearing our pumps out. It’s important that we get a machine where they can find leaks.”
The board discussed the investment and determined that the purchase would eventually pay for itself in the cost savings for chemicals and water lost over time, moving to purchase the equipment.
In other news and notes:
- Elk Park Alderman Mike Smith presented the town with a wormy chestnut wood lectern for the town to use during board meetings and other special occasions. Smith, who has worked for many years in law enforcement and in woodworking, constructed the podium by hand. The board offered to pay for the lectern and Smith’s labor, but Smith refused the gesture and insisted that the board accept the gift at no cost. The board expressed its appreciation and added that it would have a marker placed on the podium noting Smith as the donor and the date of the presentation.
- COVID-19 concerns affected several additional items on the town’s agenda, including the planning of the annual Fourth of July festivities and the town’s usual spring Large Trash Pickup event. With such uncertainty, the board opted to table further discussion of the events until its May meeting to better assess the progress of the area’s response to the virus and the feasibility of safely holding the events. In reaction to the crisis, the board moved to keep the current status of the availability of Town Hall as is, where customers are not allowed in the lobby, but can place bills in the building’s dropbox for payment.
- Aldermen briefly discussed its nuisance ordinance and continued non-compliant residents, with the board instructing Clerk Connie Guinn to send letters of non-compliance to town residents Elaine Crane, Charles Rabun and Tommy McKinney to clean up trash and debris from their properties.
- Mayor Boone reported that the tree trimming had been completed by Cale Smith’s crew. The board also moved to advertise the town’s 2019 delinquent taxes.
The next regularly scheduled meeting of Elk Park Board of Aldermen will take place at 5 p.m. on Monday, May 4, at Elk Park Town Hall.