Water service, affordable housing, and hurricanes. It’s been a busy month.
Water outages in Jonestown Road area neighborhoods: For years, several neighborhoods around Jonestown Road have experienced occasional unplanned water outages and pressure drops. When it came to my attention this year that these problems were recurring and seemed to be happening more frequently, I asked city/county Utilities Department leaders and staff to investigate. They did, and identified the factors causing the problems. THANKS to all the neighbors who helped crack this case by reporting issues, and especially to those neighbors who came out to the community meeting on September 24 to hear staff’s report and discuss your questions.
Here’s the update on what has happened since then. First, last week Utilities crews dug out one old connection and opened it and some other water supply line connections. Some of those helped, but they did not produce the full solution needed for reliable back-up connections.
Second, this week Utilities personnel and others repaired the malfunctioning PRV (pressure reducing valve) that has been responsible for creating or worsening some of the problems. A mistake in that process on Monday was what produced the outage some of us experienced then. That part of the problem is now fixed.
Third, Utilities engineers have concluded that full supply-line redundancy to prevent unnecessary outages for some neighborhoods will need to be provided by two new connections. Staff are working to design those, but that part of the process will take a little longer. I will keep up with it and report back when I know how long. That part of the problem appears to date back years, to installation of the original water lines which serve those areas.
Thanks again. City staff are actively working to finish this solution.
Peters Creek Parkway corridor improvements and affordable housing: Our city has been wrestling for some time with the issue of rising housing costs, which have been gradually spreading out from our city center to impact neighborhoods (including Ardmore) which were long more affordable. The projected increase in our population over the next 20 years makes the problem even larger. We will need more affordable housing, especially in urban neighborhoods that are close to jobs and shopping. To head off the kind of housing affordability crisis that has already hit many other cities hard, we have to plan and act now.
We have also been working on ways to revitalize many urban commercial areas that had gone into decline over past decades. Downtown has become a major ongoing economic success story, but we cannot stop there. We must share attention and opportunity to other neighborhoods and areas of our larger community.
The Peters Creek Parkway corridor between Business 40 and Bypass I-40 is one of the areas that stands out on both lists—needed economic revitalization and demand for expanded affordable housing. We recently made a start on both fronts by approving a major rezoning project that would transform the old decayed Budget Inn property (at Peters Creek Parkway and Academy Street) into a new mixed-use redevelopment. In September, the city council approved participating in an effort with Forsyth County, private investors, the NC Housing Finance Agency, and the local non-profit Peters Creek Community Initiative, to center that development around new workforce-affordable housing.
The city also is working now on zoning and development ordinance changes that would encourage other redevelopment in challenged business areas like parts of the Peters Creek Parkway and University Parkway corridors. One of those changes would permit building new residential construction in some business/commercial zoned areas that were previously closed to residential construction. Those proposed changes include specific restrictions that should protect both the new construction and existing neighborhoods from adverse impacts. I will continue to work on these challenges.
Hurricane Florence: Winston-Salem and Forsyth County were prepared for this storm and the record rainfall and flooding that it brought to our state. City/county emergency management, police and fire, streets and utilities departments were all positioned to respond. They smoothly handled some localized flooding and the complications from thousands of power outages while service was quickly restored. (Thanks also to the Duke crews for their effective response work.) We were fortunate locally that the track of the storm took it well south of our community, sparing us from the worst of its impacts. That enabled us to send our most experienced Winston-Salem Fire Department water rescue team east to help in the hard-hit coastal counties. During their week-long deployment, these firefighters rescued dozens of stranded people and many of their pets as well. Thank you!
Miller Park update: The two new/rebuilt stone footbridges have been completed, and work continues on the new restroom building. We should have a better idea of other work completion dates next month.
Business 40 work: For all state highway work around Winston-Salem prior to the closure of Business 40 downtown in mid-November, you can keep up with the latest on work schedules, planned lane closures, and other related information here: www.business40nc.com
Transit improvements during Business 40 closure: Both Winston-Salem Transit Authority (WSTA) and Piedmont Authority for Regional Transportation (PART) will provide several enhanced service routes during the Business 40 closure period.
--PART: http://www.partnc.org/biz40service/ has routes and other details of the enhanced service plans for PART.
--WSTA: Enhanced service will be provided on certain WSTA routes including 80, 85, 103, and 107, all of which serve parts of the Southwest Ward. Details have not yet been posted online.
Early voting begins October 17: Early voting begins October 17 in these very important mid-term elections. Early voting sites in or close to various parts of the Southwest Ward include these: Miller Park Rec Center, 400 Leisure Lane, Winston-Salem; Southside Branch Library, 3185 Buchanan Street, Winston-Salem; and Clemmons Branch Library, 3554 Clemmons Road, Clemmons. Full details of the dates, times, and places can be found here: http://www.co.forsyth.nc.us/Elections/Documents/2018%20EV%20Schedule_General%20Election.pdf
Early voting closes at 3 p.m. on Saturday, November 3.
Remember that you can register or update your registration and vote in one stop only during the early voting period.
If you wait to vote until the traditional election day itself (Nov. 6), you can only vote if and where you are registered as of October 12.
If you would like my recommendation on any of the issues on the ballot (city bonds or constitutional amendments), email me and I will share my thoughts.
Other October notes: There is always a spectrum of events during this month, my favorite of the year. Here are two of my recurring favorites:
--Ardmore RAH (Run Against Hunger): October 13: This annual 5k/10k/fun run starts and ends at Redeemer Presbyterian on Miller Street, and weaves its way across much of the Ardmore neighborhood. Funds raised go to fight hunger through the Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwestern NC. For more info and to register, go to www.ardmorerah.com
--Community Roots Day: October 20: Gather with Scouting groups and other volunteers from across Winston-Salem in this annual community tree-planting event. This year it will be held in the North Hills neighborhood, staging from North Hills Elementary School. For details, go to http://www.cityofws.org/Portals/0/pdf/kwsb/2018-Roots-Day-flyer.pdf?ver=2018-09-13-164414-120
That’s my report for September. As always, you are welcome to contact me with comments or questions at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks!