In January, the city council approved pay raises for police officers and firefighters, plus other important project progress.
Police officer, firefighter salaries raised: At our January 19 meeting, the city council gave final approval to a plan for immediate and continuing salary increases for city police officers and firefighters, designed to ultimately close the gap by which their pay trails that of our peer cities in North Carolina. The plan raises minimum starting salaries by 7.5%, plus a 2% raise for all officers and firefighters, effective immediately. The plan also anticipates an additional 2% annual raise each succeeding January until the comparative pay inequities have been addressed. These raises are to be in addition to whatever general merit pay increase can be approved annually for city employees overall. Winston-Salem has been working to deal with the public safety officers pay disparity problem for some time, but initiated these additional urgent measures last fall when information was presented to council regarding high officer turnover due to low pay. This action represented a much-needed step which I (and all of my council colleagues) enthusiastically supported.
Police district station construction contracts approved: At the same meeting, we also approved the contract for construction of the new police district stations for districts 1 and 3. The district 3 station will be located near the intersection of South Stratford Road and Somerset Drive in the Southwest Ward. (The district 2 station, on Waughtown Street, is already underway.) Construction of the three district police stations (and renovation of the central police station) were projects authorized as part of the public safety bonds approved by voters in November 2014.
Greenways update: I have progress to report in January on three important greenway projects.
--First, the contract was approved for completion of the Waughtown Connector greenway to link the Waughtown area neighborhoods with the Salem Creek Trail. The Waughtown greenway will wind through our new Quarry Park and provide spectacularly scenic views of the beautiful old quarry lake and the Winston-Salem skyline. Construction should be underway this summer.
--Next, the city council on January 19 voted to accept the Sherwood neighborhoods association’s donation of an easement for the planned new Cedar Trail greenway connecting those neighborhoods to the Muddy Creek Greenway. Funding has previously been approved and design is in progress.
--Finally, we received the good news that the N.C. Department of Transportation has approved funding of the Salem Creek Greenway westward extension, from Marketplace Mall to the Forsyth Tech main campus. Construction is planned for fiscal year 2018. By providing safe crossings of Silas Creek Parkway and Peters Creek Parkway, this extension will connect cyclists and pedestrians from the Forsyth Tech area and the Ardmore neighborhood directly to the entire Salem Creek/Salem Lake trail system.
Street resurfacing contract: The council also approved the first contract for street resurfacing work in 2016 (the period March through August). Southwest Ward streets on the list include Stonington Road; Sharon Road and Kaywood Lane; and Walker Avenue, Watson Avenue, and Sherwood Drive.
Cloverdale Apartments/Ardmore Terrace update: As I reported last month, discussions with the owner representatives are making progress toward a possible compromise on the future of these long-established apartment home communities. We hope soon to be able to roll out for public review a compromise that all concerned parties can work with, including elements of affordable workforce housing, compatibility with surrounding neighbors, careful redevelopment, and a transition schedule and assistance for residents who are displaced. That rollout would represent the start of a discussion and approval process which would involve public meetings, public hearings, and votes by the Planning Board and city council.
Holiday collection schedule for 2016: I will continue to send out reminders and alerts about announced changes in city sanitation collection schedules, but for those Boy Scouts who want to Be Prepared and plan ahead, here’s a link to a printable version of the known collection changes for scheduled holidays in 2016: http://www.cityofws.org/Portals/0/pdf/sanitation/2016_sanitation_holiday_calendar.pdf?ver=2015-12-22-140247-607
And as a reminder, the near-term collection schedule will continue to include some changes through the week of February 1, to finish making up for cancellations due to the recent storm. In particular, “red week” recycling routes will be postponed by one day the week of February 1 (e.g., Wednesday routes collected on Thursday, etc.).
Southwest Area Plan Update meetings will conclude 2/18: The final planned public review and comment meeting for the Southwest Area Plan Update will be held Thursday, February 18, starting at 6 p.m. at the Miller Park Recreation Center (400 Leisure Lane). More details on this ongoing process can be found here: http://www.cityofws.org/Departments/Planning/Area-Plans/Southwest
Voter registration deadline for March 15 primary: Remember that the date of the 2016 primary elections has been moved up from its previous usual time in May, to Tuesday March 15. If you are new to Forsyth County and have not yet registered, or if you have moved (even within Forsyth) since the last time you registered, it’s time to UPDATE YOUR VOTER REGISTRATION now. February 19 is the last day to update your registration in time for the March 15 primary.
That’s my report for January. As always, you are welcome to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with comments or questions. Thanks!