By a vote of 4-1, the Town Council approved at its meeting today a budget amendment in July to pay for three no-left-turn weekends this summer.
The sole dissenting vote was cast by Mayor Tom Bennett.
Councilman Matt Neal, who made the motion at the April 21 budget meeting to discuss what he called “the no-left-turn initiative” at today’s meeting, and Mayor Pro Tem Elizabeth Morey took the lead in the Council’s discussion. They enthusiastically supported the three-weekend initiative, which involves gathering vehicle count data on cut-through residential streets, as well as easing the traffic congestion that results when northbound vacationers turn left on to South Dogwood Trail from U.S. Hwy. 158.
Shepherded by Mr. Neal, who framed the discussion and the motion, the Council directed Finance Officer Bonnie Swain to prepare a budget amendment to the fiscal year 2020-21 budget, which it unanimously approved earlier at the meeting, to pay for the weekends, rather than to add a line item to next year’s budget. Mr. Neal expressed his preference that the money for the initiative come from the Town’s unassigned fund balance.
Although the budget amendment will not be adopted until the Town Council’s July 7 meeting, the Council, at Mr. Neal’s suggestion, discussed scheduling the weekend left-turn prohibitions at the U.S. Hwy. 158-east and South Dogwood Trail intersection on July 4-5, July 25-26, and Aug. 1-2.
Police Chief David Kole, who backed the initiative, saying, “Manpower-wise, we’ll do the best we can,” agreed that some of the worst traffic occurs on these weekends, especially the July 4 weekend.
“I want the data, too,” the Chief said.
Mr. Neal and Ms. Morey, who were elected to the Town Council last November, are co-sponsors of the citizens’ committee to address cut-through traffic, which is chaired by homeowner Tommy Karole.
According to Ms. Morey, Mr. Karole contacted her today to say that his committee, which was unable to meet to prepare a final report because of the COVID-19 crisis, supports the three-weekend left-turn prohibition and traffic study this summer. It also apparently has some other thoughts on traffic control.
The committee expects to reconvene in the fall.
The Beacon will add to this breaking news report when we can.
Ann G. Sjoerdsma, 6/1/20