Downtown music nights gets help from city

by Alan Hodge

The issue of to party or not to party in the streets of downtown Mount Holly came closer to resolution Monday when the City Council voted to approve economic assistance for the proposed series of 2011 Mount Holly Nights music festival events.

The only dissenting vote came from Councilmember Jerry Bishop. The approval carried the caveat that the City of Mount Holly name not be directly connected with the events since beer and wine will be served from street vendors.

The events series, formerly known as Alive After Five, is being organized by the Mount Hollydays non-profit group. Revenues generated by the concerts will go to benefit the Community Relief Organization as well as a scholarship fund.

Scheduled dates and peformances include: May 27, Coming Up Brass; June 10, The Catalinas; June 24, The Embers; July 8, Holiday Band; July 22, The Showmen; August 5, The Fantastic Shakers; August 19, Maurice Williams and the Zodiacs; and September 2, 2011.

Mount Hollydays representative Carol Featherstone estimated that attendance at each event would likely be between 2,500 and 3,000 people, give or take.

“This is a growing experience for everyone,” Featherstone said.

The lowest estimated cost to the City of Mount Holly will be $1,787 for street and garbage pickup per event. That figure includes equipment and salaries for City of Mount Holly workers. Just exactly where that money would come from raised some concerns among city officials.

The idea of using part of the $196,000 that Mount Holly has in economic development money for the events was floated, but Councilman Jerry Bishop wondered if using it to pay city worker wages for events like Mount Holly Nights could be considered economic development. Mayor Bryan Hough felt the events did indeed contribute to Mount Holly’s economic development.

“It is economic development if 3,000 to 5,000 people come here to a city they would not normally go to and spend money in our restaurants and businesses,” Hough said.

According to Featherstone, Mount Hollydays wants to emulate the successful Alive After Five concert series that has seen great success in Belmont. Councilmember Bishop asked why Mount Holly would want to be like Belmont.

“Prosperity,” Featherstone said.


Representatives from the Eden Investment Group appeared before the Mount Holly City Council Monday with a brief video presentation on the status of downtown parking. The Eden Group has been working to revitalize downtown Mount Holly, especially in the area of storefront upgrades such as removal of metal facades.

Eden Group representative David Kiser said his organization had received “tremendous support and feedback” from citizens regarding that work.

However, according to Kiser, the parking situation remained a thorny one and he cited the lack of parking on North Main Street as having led to what he termed “parking wars.” He asked for a closed session meeting with the City Council to discuss the particulars of that situation.

“I’d rather not name names in public,” Kiser said. “We need public parking not dictated by private owners or tenants.”

Kiser’s video showed an example of parking gone awry in downtown Belmont on South Main Street across from Stowe Park. But it also showed examples of public parking progress, such as Phillips Place in Charlotte and Greeneville, South Carolina that Mount Holly could emulate.

Mayor Bryan Hough said that the parking issue would be part of the discussion at the City Council’s upcoming planning retreat February 3 through 5 in Greensboro.


The subject of how to better enable folks to navigate around Mount Holly via “wayfinding” signage was presented Monday to the City Council by Senior Planner Greg Beal.

Wayfinding signage uses icons, wording, and other types of illustrative communication on a sign to help people find attractions or amenities in a city.

According to Beal,  Mount Holly signage would cost about $2,000 per sign, not including installation.

“I am confident we can do it in-house,” he said. “They don’t have to be ugly green signs.”

One way faring sign could be installed before the railroad underpass to direct people to the Citizens Center, River Street Park, and Historic Downtown. Other locations for signs could include Tuckaseegee Road and NC 273, Beal said.

As a next step, Beal plans to seek input from the city council on possible sign designs.


Mount Holly Assistant City Manager Jamie Guffey presented to the City Council Monday a lot of information on performance measures for personnel. Along with the lists of ways to measure the performance of city employees was the caveat, “Performance measurement, whether done for budgeting, management, or planning purposes, can impose a heavy cost on government.”

However, Guffey said with careful planning, “we should be able to do this without impacting future budgets.”

Reasons Guffey gave for the use of performance measures included the ability to compare Mount Holly to other municipalities, track progress in areas that are priorities to the city council, and assist with budget planning.

“We are still developing the list,” Guffey said.

Plans are for the performance measures list to be complete by July 1 for presentation to the City Council and for quarterly reports to follow thereafter.


Mount Holly City Manager Danny Jackson gave the City Council an update Monday on the Strategic Vision Plan, adopted in 2008. Jackson’s presentation included a list of what goals had been achieved over the last two years as well as those still awaiting completion.

According to the material Jackson handed out Monday, some of the accomplished goals include working with the Carolina Thread Trail and US Whitewater Center to develop a pedestrian bridge across the Catawba River, rewrite the zoning ordinance, begin an industrial recruitment and improvement plan, and create a Downtown Merchant’s Association.

More discussion on the Strategic Vision Plan will take place at the city council’s February retreat.

Mount Holly Recreation Director Ed Smith updated the City Council Monday on the use of the old Mount Holly Middle School gym for youth activities such as basketball and indoor soccer. According to Smith, 250 kids ages 5-12 years old currently use the facility with more sure to come with time.

“The reality is we don’t have enough facilities for our programs,” Mayor Bryan Hough said.

One issue with using the old gym is heating costs. Smith presented figures Monday that showed the location required $7,794.28 for natural gas and electricity last year. The cost to heat the Tuck Center last year was $14,631.59 just for propane, not counting electricity.

Smith is recommending that the city work with Mount Holly Middle School to use the newer gym on campus. Currently there is no such agreement in place.

City Manager Danny Jackson promised to have his staff continue to study the gym situation.

“There are a lot of moving targets here,” Jackson said.

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