Morganton a step closer to mountain biking, hiking trail
Morganton got one step closer to another eco-tourism spot at Monday night’s city council meeting.
The council voted to enter a memorandum of agreement between the city, Foothills Land Conservancy and Overmountain Cycles to construct a 4-mile-long mountain biking trail at Catawba Meadows Park.
NC Trails awarded the conservancy a $100,000 grant to develop the trail, which will see input from Overmountain Cycles on the design of the trail and its maintenance.
Michael Lowther, owner of Overmountain Cycles, told the council he was excited for the trail and that it was something he had wanted to see come to Morganton for a while.
“The Burke Bearcats, it’s our county-wide middle school, high school mountain bike team, it started a couple years ago, it’s been growing pretty consistently, and this would be the home base for those guys to come and ride and practice and gain skills, all the way from sixth grade all the way up to 12th grade,” Lowther said.
He also said he’d like to see the trail bring in races with competitors from all over North Carolina and other states.
“Those kinds of things really are possible, especially in the bike world,” Lowther said. “People want venues to ride, they want trails to go explore and it’s an excellent opportunity for Burke County and Morganton to get more eco-tourism.”
Grayson Barnette, marketing and communications coordinator for Foothills Land Conservancy, said the organization is looking to start construction on the path in spring 2022.
City residents who get their internet service through CoMPAS eventually will see higher speeds after the council voted to upgrade some equipment.
Residential internet customers currently get up to 250 mbps downstream, but the new cable modem termination system the city is purchasing would allow customers to speeds up to 1 gbps.
CoMPAS Director Greg Branch told the council that the bandwidth being used in the city has skyrocketed, and that this system eventually should allow the city to upgrade residential internet customers to fiber service.
He said the city currently is in preparations, so some customers may be experiencing internet outages from midnight to 6 a.m. some nights.
The system will cost the city no more than $497,720.06, and City Manager Sally Sandy said she believes the cost may be covered by federal COVID-19 funds that were dispensed to municipalities around the country. She said the city, and all other municipalities, still are waiting on clear rules for how those dollars can be spent.
New burning ordinance
The city now has an open burning ordinance that limits all open burning, or any fire intentionally set or maintained outside the confines of a building, fireplace, pit or similar structure.
Burning permits will not be issued when the materials to be burned could be taken to an accessible location for the city’s public works department to pick up.
Permits are required for bonfires, which the city defined as any purposely constructed fire for religious or ceremonial purpose with a base larger than 2 feet by 2 feet but not larger than 5 feet by 5 feet. Permits also are required for land clearing purposes and for training fires.
They will not be required for open fires for cooking or heating, or religious or ceremonial purposes as long as:
The fires are not composed of leaves, grass or yard waste;
The smoke and fumes don’t irritate others who are not on the property where the fire is being burned;
The fire is contained in a campfire pit or a container designed for such purpose; and,
The fire follows North Carolina fire prevention code.
Anyone who violates the ordinance will be fined $100 for an initial violation. Repeat offenses would result in a $200 fine.
Council members also voted to officially allocate $3,900 in community development block grant funds to Options Inc. to replace blinds and the microwave at the shelter. Other CDBG funds had been designated by the council at its September meeting, but Options’ request was inadvertently left off the list.
The council also revisited an action from its June meeting where a company was hired to perform cleaning services at city hall, public safety headquarters, the city’s warehouse, garage and the Community House.
That company could not satisfactorily perform the terms of its contract, so it was terminated.
Council members approved a contract for $9,350 per month with Kathy’s Clean Sweep LLC to clean those city properties, which was a little more than $3,100 more per month than the contract that had to be terminated.
The council also approved minutes from its September meeting, along with two budget amendments to recognize reimbursements for water tap improvements on Hogan and West Union streets.