Dwindling road is dilemma for area business

By Lesley Jenkins
star staff

A few poles, some caution tape and a construction sign are the only tools keeping motorists on Stanley Hollow Road separated from an 85-foot drop onto jutting boulders and a rippling creek below.
   Acceptable as these tools may be for asking drivers to slow down and keep away from the side of the decaying asphalt, if an inexperienced driver on this road approached this section with too much speed, no amount of stretchy warning tape and metal poles is going to keep an automobile on this narrow one-lane road.
   The problem is the asphalt is wasting away straight off the cliff which is shrinking the already thin road to barely wide enough to accommodate a small economy car.
   Melanie Gregory and her husband, Darriel, own Safe Haven Farm, located at the end of Stanley Hollow Road. She says the skinny road has not only affected her personal life but has more importantly deterred customers from her business.
   Safe Haven Farm is home to the Gregorys, three sets of deer, a bear named Bob, and to many guests from across the country. The Gregorys specialize in weddings, commitment ceremonies, family reunions, and as a safe haven for people who want to get away from their hectic lives and spend a little time secluded on 75 acres of mountain land.
   In order to offer all of their services to their customers, the Gregorys have to ensure that the guests can arrive safely on Stanley Hollow Road.
   Melanie says the next set of guests she is expecting will be arriving in Winnebagos, a mammoth of a recreational vehicle. She's worried the RVs will not make it past the cautioned area of the road without damaging the road even more or possibly causing damage to the Winnebagos in the process.
   Darriel appeared before the Carter County Highway Committee last month to inform the highway department of the problem and to ask for a repair. He received the standard reply of "We'll check into it" from the committee.
   As far as getting a construction date from Carter County Highway Superintendent Jack Perkins, the Gregorys have been told the road will be fixed when the department can get around to it.
   In a telephone interview with Perkins, he told this reporter the project would require filling in the section with about 20,000 yards of fill. He said, "I would be afraid to put a price on it. We might have to knock down the whole side of the mountain."
   Penciling in a date to begin the repair wasn't in Perkins' agenda either, citing delays in other projects and "we'll get around to it as quick as we can."
   Until then, the six families living on Stanley Hollow Road should steer clear of the damaged area and the Gregorys expect to not receive any more deliveries from UPS or hire a logging company to do some necessary clearing. Drivers should probably drive the smallest vehicles they can, because in this case, wider is not better.