August saw Winston-Salem progressing in several areas important to community quality of life, including sidewalk additions, clean air, job creation, bicycle safety, and trash dumping prevention.
Sidewalk additions approved: Addition of sidewalks to busy city streets is important for public safety and for enhancing the attractiveness and livability of our neighborhoods. The City Council on August 15 approved a list of priority sidewalk additions for funding through the issuance of authorized bonds next year. As usual, the list seeks to maintain a balance of improvement projects around the city. Projects in the Southwest Ward will include Lockland Avenue from Ardsley to Silas Creek Parkway, Westbrook Drive, and Westgate Center Drive. Project priority selections were based primarily on a scoring formula which includes pedestrian activity, traffic volume and safety hazards, sidewalk network connectivity improvement, and facilities served. In making recommendations among highly-ranked projects, I also take into account the level of active neighborhood interest in sidewalk improvements. At my request, the city Transportation Department is also evaluating requests for future sidewalk additions on Emory Drive/Arlington Drive/Fortune Street, Magnolia Street, and Westview Drive. If your street isn’t on that list—yet—please try to be patient, but don’t hesitate to let me know of your interest. I’m pushing this priority as fast as I can.
Clean air progress recognized: In August, the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced its continued approval of our Piedmont Triad regional Early Action Compact for air pollution cleanup. The EPA noted that the Triad has met its interim deadline for developing a plan of clean air strategies, and is on track to meet national air quality standards by the end of 2007. This is especially encouraging in light of our experience with air pollution alerts this summer. Those of us who have been working on this cleanup plan since 2002 were worried that a return to hotter summer conditions this year would produce a rash of unhealthy air alerts. We’ve been pleased (so far) that our air has continued to see real improvement over the declining conditions of just a few summers ago. It’s encouraging—but no excuse to slack off the necessary work to finish the job.
Job creation: Three suppliers for Dell Computer have now announced plans to locate facilities in the Triad, including two which will locate in Winston-Salem. Among them is Austin Foam, which announced in August that its new operation here will hire 30 workers and invest over $3 million in facility improvements and equipment. In addition, the new 84 Lumber store and distribution center held its official Winston-Salem opening on August 30.
Bicycle plan approved: The City Council on August 15 also approved the comprehensive Winston-Salem Urban Area Bicycle Plan. The plan contains common-sense recommendations for the improving the safety of those who ride bikes in our community. Policies include striping bicycle lanes and intersection markings in identified priority locations, and continuing the development of our network of shared-use (bikes and pedestrians) greenway trails. This is good news for the thousands of people in our city who ride bikes for healthy exercise, family fun, and clean transportation.
Trashbusters begins: The "trashbusters" program to encourage citizens to report illegal dumpers officially begins September 1. There will be a number to make reports (734-1268), and the potential for Crimestoppers-style rewards. Keep an eye out for dumpers, and help us keep our neighborhoods clean.
Rezoning approvals: Rezoning requests approved during August included two relatively minor change requests in the Southwest Ward. In both cases, adjoining neighborhoods were consulted and controversy avoided. On Mayfield Drive, a change from RS-12 to RS-9-S was approved; the petitioner worked with adjoining neighbors on Muirfield Drive to address buffer issues and site plan concerns. On Westbrook Drive, a site plan amendment to a commercial property was approved; the petitioner conferred with neighbors on Hannaford Road to address buffer and stormwater questions. I mention these cases primarily to commend the parties involved for their successful cooperative approach to resolving issues.
Upcoming events: City events of interest over the next month will include—
--Step Up Forsyth, the exercise challenge event to encourage folks to start an exercise program for better health, beginning September 10. Visit www.co.forsyth.nc.us/Publichealth/step_home.aspx for details.
--Rock the Block, the annual downtown street festival, on September 16 from 6 p.m. to midnight. Contact 727-2317 or check out www.rocktheblockws.com for details.
--Big Sweep, the annual community cleanup of rivers and streams, on October 1 from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Contact Keep Winston-Salem Beautiful at 727-8013 for information or to volunteer.