September 2015 Highlights

Improved safety for city vehicle driving, and promotion of new developments that are more bike/pedestrian-friendly, were among the issues that saw city action in September.

 

Police car accidents:     Following a series of accidents involving police vehicles over recent months, the city manager in September directed the immediate (October 1) implementation of several related city policy changes.  Those include using the GPS devices on city vehicles to note and flag for review all incidents of serious speeding.  He also required driving skills refresher training for officers.  Police officer is a tough and often dangerous job, and I know that there are many times when a patrol officer is going to be called upon to maneuver in traffic in ways that exceed what we’d want to see from a civilian driver.  In that process, we want to help keep our officers and citizens as safe as possible.

 

Zoning development code changes:     The city council on September 8 approved several detailed changes to the zoning/development code (Unified Development Ordinance, or UDO) regarding parking, sidewalks, and tree planting for new commercial and multifamily residential developments.  The changes require walkway connections to adjacent public sidewalks, and inclusion of bicycle parking racks, to make it easier for residents and customers to safely come and go using those alternatives.  Other changes include increasing the required large-variety tree planting when car parking lots are much larger (>175%) than the minimum number of spaces required under the UDO for a development of the size involved.  These changes should promote greener and safer new development in our city.     

 

Business 40 improvements:     In September, the N.C. General Assembly adopted a final budget, which unfortunately prohibits the N.C. Department of Transportation (DOT) from helping to pay for any of the appearance/aesthetic “betterments” associated with the Business 40 renovation project.  The N.C. Department of Transportation (DOT) had agreed to cover the costs of enhancing the appearance of sound walls and road revetments (similar to work which has been done in recent years for other similar projects in cities like Durham and Greensboro), but that tentative agreement was cancelled out by the legislative action.  As a result, the city is recalculating what we will be able to pay for in terms of the appearance of the bridges, sound walls, and protective structures.  On the good news side, our urban area Transportation Advisory Committee approved the second half of the city’s requested assistance for the planned multi-use path along the Business 40 right of way through the city center.  The approved funds, which now total about $2.9 million, will come from federal transportation money for projects that help reduce air pollution and congestion.  This project qualifies because it will promote cycling and walking as alternatives to driving to and from downtown.

 

Upcoming events of interest in October:    Multiple meetings and events of interest to Southwest Ward residents are scheduled for October.

--10/6, Cherokee Lane sidewalk input session:     A drop-in session to collect resident feedback on the proposed new section of sidewalk on Cherokee Lane (from Magnolia to Ebert) will be held on Tuesday, October 6, from 6 to 7:30 p.m., at Forsyth Tech West Campus (on Bolton Street), in Room 36. 

--10/8, Ardmore Neighborhood Association meeting:     The reactivated Ardmore Neighborhood Association will hold its first membership meeting on Thursday, October 8, at 7 p.m., in the Redeemer Church auditorium on Miller Street.  New officers will be selected and discussion held on priority efforts.

--10/10, Big Sweep:     The annual waterways cleanup day will be held on Saturday, October 10—postponed a week due to the prospect for heavy weather the preceding weekend—between 9 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.  For more info, contact George Stilphen of Keep Winston-Salem Beautiful at georges@cityofws.org.  

--10/13, Miller Park renovations input session:     The Recreation and Parks Department will hold a public information and input session on the Miller Park renovation project on Tuesday, October 13, from 6 to 7:30 p.m., at the Miller Park Recreation Center.  Topics will include streambank restoration, the trails, the shelters, and lighting.

--10/24, Community Roots Day:     Our annual community tree-planting day will be held this year on Saturday, October 24, from 9 a.m. to noon, along West Clemmonsville Road.  Volunteers should meet at Redeemed Missionary Baptist Church, 1170 W. Clemmonsville Road.

--10/24, Run Against Hunger (RAH):     This year’s Run Against Hunger (RAH!) 5k and 10k races will also be held on Saturday, October 24, starting and finishing at Redeemer Church, 1046 Miller Street.  This is a big fundraiser for Second Harvest Food Bank.  For more details and to register, see www.ardmoreRAH.com.  

 

Concert noise:     I received multiple noise complaints following a music festival held at the BB&T Ballpark on September 26-27.  The volume and duration of the noise seemed to be unusually intrusive, as reported by many residents up to more than a mile away.  City staff indicate that the lease agreement for the ballpark includes noise restrictions which should be sufficient to prevent a recurrence of this problem.  I will pursue discussions with city staff and other council members on how we ensure that those noise restrictions are enforced in the future.  I’m all for making more active use of the ballpark during the baseball off-season, but we have to ensure that this is done in a way that is compatible with the neighborhoods all around it.

 

Cloverdale Apartments/Ardmore Terrace update:     Following the public meeting on August 24, a committee of interested community members (including residents and neighbors) has met to continue work on this matter.  One subcommittee is collecting information on resources available to assist tenants who may eventually need to relocate, and to develop feedback from the apartment residents on which concerns are of highest priority to them.  Another subcommittee has consulted with expert resources to develop ideas on alternatives for discussion with the apartments’ owners.  Informal discussions with the owners’ representatives are continuing.  I will continue to report monthly on this work.

 

That’s my report for September.  As always, you are welcome to email me at danbesse@danbesse.org with comments or questions.  Thanks!

 

 

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