December was quiet in terms of formal City Council actions, but there were several other city issue developments worthy of note.
Air quality compliance achieved: I'm very pleased to report that the final 2007 air quality monitoring data for the Piedmont Triad show that we are now meeting federal health-protection standards for ground-level ozone (urban smog). That should become official in 2008. Winston-Salem worked with more than 40 other local governments in the Triad, private parties, the state of North Carolina, and the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in a three-year plan to meet this goal. There are still two major challenges for us in this arena. First, we have maintain our cleaner air over time, which will be tough. In particular, we'll have to control pollutant emissions from auto travel as population growth and development continue in our region. Second, the newest health data suggest to EPA's scientists that the ozone pollution standard actually needs to be even stricter. If it is tightened, our region will very likely find itself out of compliance again, with more cleanup work to do. I expect that we will see a national ruling on that latter issue during 2008.
Burke Mill Road realignment: The realignment of Burke Mill Road to intersect with Atwood Road at Stratford will improve travel options for much of the more suburban area of the Southwest Ward, especially the Atwood neighborhoods. After lengthy development of engineering options, and challenges getting through the right-of-way acquisitions, that project is finally ready to move forward. Construction bids have been received, and city staff expect to bring a contract recommendation to the City Council in January.
Sidewalks and greenways: Good work is continuing to expand these safe pedestrian travel options in our area. As I reported last month, the Magnolia Street sidewalk extension (now finished) completes a safer walking route for much of south central Ardmore to reach Miller Park and Moore School. Addition of sidewalk along Country Club Road between Westview and Avalon extends an important safe walking route there. The first phase of the Little Creek Greenway is under planning. Easements are available for an initial segment, and funding options are being sought. Improving pedestrian safety continues to be a high priority for me personally in my city council service.
Stormwater rules: The city has been working for months to draft improvements to our stormwater control ordinances. The changes are intended to improve water quality and reduce flooding and erosion problems. City staff, area builders, City Council members, and other interested citizens have commented and conferred on multiple drafts. At this point, city staff expect to bring their final draft recommendations to the Public Works Committee for consideration, and a possible vote, in January. The committee's standard meeting time this month is Tuesday, January 15, at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall.
Neighborhood watch expansion: Neighbors in the Kenwood Street area have established a new neighborhood crime watch there. I appreciate their doing so, and would like to encourage other neighborhoods in the Southwest Ward, which don't already have an active neighborhood association or crime watch, to do the same. I will be happy to connect interested neighbors with help from the Crime Prevention section of the police department. Winston-Salem has seen a citywide rise in reported property crimes during 2007, and active neighborhood watches are an effective way to combat that trend.