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