September 2009 Highlights

In September, we prepared the new Southwest Area Plan for its final public hearing on October 5.

Southwest Area Plan:     The new Southwest Area Plan will go to public hearing this Monday, October 5, before the full City Council during the meeting which begins 7:30 p.m. at City Hall.  Public comments are invited.  The Southwest Area Plan covers Ardmore; plus the smaller neighborhoods bordered by Business 40, Stratford Road, and Silas Creek Parkway; as well as the areas around our two hospitals, and the commercial area along Stratford Road between Business 40 and Silas Creek Parkway. 

     Small area plans are intended to give city/county planners guidance in reviewing rezoning requests in the affected areas.  They also serve as useful guidance for city investments in needed facilities, from parks to transportation.  The Southwest Area Plan was developed over the past year with assistance from a citizen advisory committee, which has worked hard and held multiple public input sessions.  The draft plan can be reviewed at http://www.cityofws.org/Home/Departments/Planning/AreaPlans/Articles/Southwest

     The Southwest Suburban Area Plan, which covers much of the rest of the Southwest Ward, was finalized in August 2008. 

Public safety grants:     During September, the city learned that we will receive over $875,000 in federal grants to improve programs in our police department.  These include funds to hire three additional crime analysts; a joint program with WSSU and the Center for Community Safety to focus on drugs and high crime areas; and additional equipment, supplies and training for the department's forensics division.  These funds were awarded through competitive grant programs, in which Winston-Salem showed our readiness to put these resources to effective use in deterring and responding to crime in our community.

Coyotes:      Over the past few months, I've occasionally received questions about coyotes spotted in the city.  I thought some of the information I've researched and provided in response would be of interest to many of you.  Here are some coyote facts:

  • Coyotes were originally native to the southwestern U.S., but have been expanding their range for decades, and are now found across the southeast (including every county in North Carolina). 
  • Coyotes have expanded because they are very adaptable to urban and suburban environments.  They're shy and wily, able to hide in limited cover, and prosper by running away from humans instead of confronting us.
  • Coyotes are not pack animals, and are not a threat to people.  It's been decades since the last documented attack by a coyote on a human.
  • However, coyotes are another good reason not to let your cats run loose at night.  Cats out on the prowl at night are definitely on the potential coyote menu.
  • Finally, a few coyotes are around in the city, but they're not especially numerous and are unlikely to get that way.  Unless you're herding sheep or cattle, they're unlikely to make your list of personal problems.  They're another example of today's "urban wildlife", from groundhogs to beavers, that have adapted to survive in odd green corners of our cities.

Stadium construction underway:     Speaking of urban wildlife:  Last week, the cats were finally herded into the same room, all the paperwork was signed, and crews got back to work on completing Winston-Salem's new baseball stadium.  By the last day of September, construction was back in full swing.  The stadium should be complete and open for the start of the 2010 baseball season.

     For all the sound and fury surrounding this issue, these key facts remain:

  • Winston-Salem will now own a major new economic asset in this "state of the art" stadium.
  • Revenues from operation of the stadium are projected to cover its costs (including its capital costs), meaning that we do not expect it to need a net taxpayer subsidy.  The costs of the funds borrowed to help complete the stadium are to be entirely covered by revenues from the stadium.
  • The project is being completed on the original schedule required by contract (March 2010), despite interference from the worst national economic recession in half a century.

     Without doubt, the process of arriving at this point frustrated and aggravated us all.  That we have gotten here in the end, however, is a testament to the power of patient, steady work.  You haven't heard me expressing my aggravation with this situation because I've been trying instead to help work out the resolution of a challenging problem.

Plastic bottles:     As of October 1, please remember to put all those plastic drink bottles in the recycling bin, not the trash.  That's when a new state law comes into effect, requiring us to keep plastic drink bottles from going into the landfill.  Don't worry—there will be no "garbage police" checking your household trash.  However, by participating in our curbside recycling program, you'll be saving the city from unnecessary back-end sorting costs—as well as helping protect our environment for our children.

Neighborhood updates:     Residents of Ardmore are invited to the Ardmore Neighborhood Association's annual meeting on Tuesday, October 13, starting at 7 p.m. at Ardmore Methodist Church.  This meeting will elect ANA officers for the year, as well as hear from candidates (including me) for the Southwest Ward City Council seat.

     The Salem Woods neighborhood had a very well-attended meeting on September 22, when it heard from a Winston-Salem Police Department representative about the neighborhood watch program.  Salem Woods will meet again on October 27.

     During September, I also participated in neighborhood meetings in Bolton Park, Atwood Acres, Burke Park, and Sheffield Gardens.  Thanks to all the neighbors of the Southwest Ward for working together to protect and improve our neighborhoods! 

Early voting:     We're closing in on the finale of this year's Winston-Salem city elections.  Early voting for mayor and all eight city council seats begins on Thursday, October 15.  There's only one early voting site this year, downtown at the Forsyth County Board of Elections office in the county government building on Chestnut Street.  For more information about registration or voting, please check the Board of Elections webpage at http://www.co.forsyth.nc.us/elections/