April 2003 Highlights

Old Vineyard Road: As part of a rezoning request, Flow Motors had proposed the closing of Old Vineyard Road where it joins Stratford Road. That would have closed off one of the few access ways to a neighborhood of more than 150 homes, plus apartments and professional offices. Concerned residents called me to object, and I met with over 75 residents of the neighborhood on April 23 and again on April 29. At the second meeting, representatives of Flow announced that in response to neighborhood objections they were withdrawing the proposal. Flow representatives will meet with a committee of the newly forming neighborhood association to review details of a revised rezoning proposal before it moves forward. Thanks to all the neighbors who participated, and special thanks to Melanie Choplin for hosting and publicizing the meetings!

Air quality: In late April, the American Lung Association released a report on urban air quality around the nation, which contained disturbing news for Winston-Salem residents. The report showed that our Piedmont Triad region had "risen" to a rank of 17th worst urban air quality in the U.S. (The rankings are released annually, based on a three-year rolling average of ozone air pollution violation days.) That makes air in the Triad, in number of violations per year, worse than the Research Triangle region (although still not as bad as Charlotte). This air pollution triggers asthma attacks, worsens heart conditions, and aggravates other health problems, especially for children, the elderly, and sick adults. It underscores the importance of efforts to clean up our region’s air. Our regional Early Action Compact working group, which I chair as Winston-Salem’s city representative, will recommend by June 16 a menu of options for local action to help clean up our air faster.

Housing strategy: The City Council in April reviewed and approved Winston-Salem’s updated Housing and Community Development Plan for 2004-08. The plan deals with neighborhood revitalization and redevelopment; housing production and first-time homebuyer programs; and "community building" efforts such as housing rehabilitation, homeless/transitional assistance, and code enforcement. It’s a broad area of efforts, and I’ll be happy to answer more specific questions or put you in touch with those who can.

Economic development: Promoting economic development in Winston-Salem has been a major focus for Mayor Allen Joines, and he has brought forward to the City Council a steady stream of projects in that pursuit. Two more such efforts hit landmarks in April. First, the city successfully recruited expansion of Charter Medical’s biomedical operations here. Charter announced that it will set up its biopharmaceutical and blood-filtration equipment production operations in our city. (Winston-Salem beat out heavy recruitment efforts by New York for this.) Also in April, we formally opened the new central courtyard plaza for the Piedmont Triad Research Park. This is all part of the strategic plan by the city, our universities, and other community institutions to make Winston-Salem a new center for biomedical research, development, and production.

Issue updates:

Traffic calming: Public comments on the draft Traffic Calming plan were taken at the April meeting of the Public Works Committee. The committee will look at the plan again at our May 13 meeting. I am pressing the committee for action on the plan, so that we can get to work on systematically implementing traffic calming measures where they’re needed throughout our neighborhoods.

Panhandling: Action on proposals to further restrict "panhandling" and other solicitation activities on the streets was again postponed on April 21. The Public Safety Committee had reported out a proposal which dealt only with soliciting near banks and teller machines—an approach which clearly misses the main issues. The matter will be taken up by the Public Safety Committee again at its May 12 meeting.

Bolton Park: Several neighborhood representatives joined me for a walk through Bolton Park on April 5, to look at the area which would be affected by a right-of-way and road proposed across the southwest corner of the park. I have been discussing possible compensatory measures with project proponents, neighborhood representatives, and city parks officials.

Constituent service notes:

Storm debris pickup: Concerned residents in the Kenwood and Capri Streets area reported that ice storm debris had not yet been picked up on their blocks. The city Sanitation Division got that oversight corrected. Please let me know if your street has been inadvertently missed, and I will have it checked.

Police response: A citizen reported slow response time and other problems with response to an assault call. I was able to put him in touch with Police Department leaders who resolved the concerns informally. Formal complaint procedures are also available when needed to deal with any exceptions to the normally good work of our city Police Department.

Oversized vehicle parking: In looking into a constituent complaint, I learned that vehicles (including trailers) of more than 30 feet in length or 80 inches in width are not allowed to be parked overnight on residential streets. If you have a problem with such parking, the Police Department is the enforcement agency.

Hinshaw/Northwest Blvd. neighborhood watch: I met with the newly forming community watch group for Hinshaw Street and Northwest Boulevard on April 9. Active homeowners, apartment residents, and landlords are working with police to take care of crime problems in the area and build a safe and friendly community.

Median mowing: City mowing started later this year as an economy measure. Mowing has now started on Watson Avenue’s median (and the others around the city) and will continue through the growing season.