Williamston approves funding for downtown plans, changes facility use fees

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During their meeting Monday, Williamston Town Council approved funding and proposals for a downtown development and revitalization initiative and addressed fees for use of the facilities at the Municipal Center.
Council approved a resolution to provide $45,000 in matching funds and proposals for an Appalachian Region Commission (ARC) grant to help with downtown retail revitalization and business recruitment. After approving the fifty percent funding match for the grant, Council unanimously approved a resolution accepting two Request for Proposals (RFPs) for planning associated with the ARC initiative which will be used to develop and revitalize Williamston’s downtown historic corridor.
The two proposals, both by R.E.D. City Planning, are to provide a retail and light industry plan for the town at a cost of $43,000 and a residential plan and visitor and resident attraction plan at a cost of $35,000.
Williamston Mayor Mack Durham said there were only two applicants to the RFP, and one of the two didn’t meet requirements.
Councilman Rockey Burgess said he was not comfortable with the company on one of the plans, however went along in approving the two RFPs after Mayor Durham said the work schedule had already started.
“Certain elements of the plan are to start this month,”Durham said. “It will give us a more focused approach and is next step planning. It is an action step in the form of a grant.”
The development and revitalization initiative is called “The Retail Strategy: A Three Pronged Action Plan”.
Council also made changes to the municipal center facility fee schedules and rules.
Mayor Durham said there have been suggestions that the town could charge a lot more for the facilities, however he wants to keep the fees reasonable for local citizens who are taxpayers.
There was considerable discussion about the fees and some of the rules.
The per day fee for use of the auditorium will increase from $300 to $500.
The two banquet rooms will rent for $200 per day. The Kitchen and Dining Room will be available for $100 per day.
Council approved a refundable security and cleaning deposit of $400 which would be added to use any or all of the facilities. The decision to refund or withhold all or a portion of the deposit is solely in the discretion of the mayor or his designee.
Residents of the town will get a twentyfive percent discount on all fees.
A requirement of providing security for events serving alcohol was also addressed.
The town’s ordinances required any event serving alcohol to have security provided through the Williamston Police Department. The requirement was changed to allow some discretion on events with less than 100 people attending. Under the change, the mayor or his designee can decide if security will be required for an event serving alcohol with less than 100 people attending.