January 2018 Highlights

Miller Park improvements and a potential upcoming bond issue were among our January work items.  (Check out the February events items as well.)

Miller Park renovations contract approved:     The city council on January 16 approved the contract for the next phase of renovation work in Miller Park.  Included in this round will be repairs to the paved pathway network throughout the park (about 75% of the trails’ surfaces will be redone); replacement of the two stone footbridges across Miller Creek; a new restrooms building near the Queen Street parking area; and repairs around the shelters.  The work should start this spring and finish by the end of the year.  There are no plans to close the park at any time, although rolling restrictions to facilities that are actively under renovation will be needed for safety, of course.  (This is phase two of the Miller Park renovations work, following the restoration work done on Miller Creek.)

Council reviews potential bond referendum items:     At a special meeting on January 29, we reviewed recommendations from our Citizen Capital Needs Committee (CCNC) on priority items for a potential bond referendum this fall.  We appointed citizens from across the city to the CCNC last year and charged them to review the backlog of capital construction needs for the city and make recommendations for priorities.  The CCNC members submitted a report recommending a bond referendum package of about $120 million, including $56 million for streets and sidewalks, $24 million for parks and recreation, $19 million for public safety facilities, $10 million for housing development, and $12 million for economic development (all figures rounded). 

The recommended package total of $120 million compares to the $139 million in city bonds approved by public referendum in 2014.  Winston-Salem has less public debt per capita than other major cities in North Carolina (Charlotte, Durham, Greensboro, Raleigh), and would be in good fiscal condition to take on the recommended bonds if voters approve them.

Drawing on lessons we’ve learned from implementing our 2014 bond package, I recommended adding some additional funds for greenways, which can be completed much more quickly and efficiently by using local funding instead of state and federal grants. (Those grants come with lots of red tape delays in implementation.)  My recommended projects include two greenway extensions in the Southwest Ward, the Salem Creek Greenway west to Forsyth Tech and the Little Creek Greenway south to Somerset Drive.

Next steps for this process include another city council workshop on February 26, public input meetings in March and April, a city council decision on May 21 about what to put on the ballot, and finally a public referendum vote on November 6.

PART regional transit service expands to Saturday:     Our regional transit system, PART (Piedmont Authority for Regional Transportation), begins Saturday service on its three central routes (connecting Winston-Salem, Greensboro, and High Point) on February 3.  As a way of attracting rider attention to the service expansion, Saturday rides on PART will be free for the month of February.  (One-way PART rides are normally $2.50.)  See all the route, schedule, and fare information here:  http://www.partnc.org/saturdayexpress/

Coming in February:     Several city meetings and events of potential interest to Southwest Ward residents are coming up in February:

  • Sanitation workers remembrance, Feb. 1:  Mayor Joines and I will present a proclamation in memory of the Memphis sanitation workers killed 50 years ago in a tragic workplace accident that sparked an effort in that city for better working conditions and wages.  It was two months later that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated while in Memphis in support of the sanitation workers there.  Cities around the nation on February 1 will be observing this anniversary in recognition that workplace safety and economic justice are an ongoing effort.  The event here will take place at 1 p.m. on the steps of City Hall on Main Street downtown.
  • Campus zoning rules hearing, Feb. 5:  The city council will hold a public hearing and vote on tightening the rules on permitting off-campus accessory uses associated with C (campus) zoning in Winston-Salem.  The hearing will be part of the regular city council meeting starting at 7 p.m. in City Hall.
  • Child Pedestrian Safety Improvement Projects input meeting, Feb. 12:  The city Transportation Department will hold a drop-in public input meeting for two proposed pedestrian safety projects in the Southwest Ward, at the intersection of Hawthorne and Academy and the intersection of Miller and Silas Creek Parkway.  The meeting will be 6-7:30 p.m. at Miller Park Recreation Center.
  • WSPD & WSFD celebration of Black History Month, Feb. 18:  The city Police Department and Fire Department will hold their annual event celebrating Black History Month beginning at 3 p.m. on Sunday, February 18, at Galilee MB Church, 4129 Northampton Drive. 
  • Bicycle Master Plan public meeting, Feb. 21:  The city Transportation Department will hold a public information and input meeting on the proposed new Bicycle Master Plan for the city.  The meeting will be 5:30-7:30 p.m. at the new Central Library auditorium, 660 W. 5th Street.

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