September 2010 Highlights

Job creation and transportation issues led the city council agenda in September.

Research Park, Pepsi call center, downtown renovation, incentives, and jobs: Three economic development projects received extensive discussion and votes of approval by the city council in September. All three will boost our property tax base and create jobs.

Two of the projects, street infrastructure for the expanding Piedmont Triad Research Park, and building upfits to attract expansion of the Pepsi Bottling call center, use funds from the Dell repayment money to leverage new economic expansion here. The third project, renovation and re-use of an existing downtown commercial building on Trade and Fifth streets, would apply a portion of the new added property taxes which would be paid on the newly renovated building. In that case, city funds only get paid out after the additional tax revenues from the new development come in. As a result, all three projects boost our local economy without drawing from our existing property tax revenues.

Union Station and passenger rail restoration: At our September 20 meeting, the council also voted to reaffirm the city's intention to acquire the old Union Station (currently used as the Davis Garage) for restoration as a transit center. The most important single significance of this action is its confirmation of the city's participation in a long-term plan to restore passenger rail service to Winston-Salem. The restored Union Station should ultimately serve to connect bus, rail, and auto transit, including regional light rail and interstate rapid rail. It is well located, adjacent to Business 40 and Winston-Salem State University, just east of downtown.

This historic rail station, in active transit use up to 1972, will be purchased using a federal grant approved for that purpose five years ago. Acquisition negotiations with the current owner, Davis Garage, have stretched out since that time. The grant availability has been renewed more than once, and federal officials have indicated that it is unlikely to be extended further if not used now.

Ardmore sewer and street work (and other neighborhood activities): During the summer just past, sewer line rehabilitation and replacement work resulted in a number of temporary street closures in the Ardmore neighborhood. That work was part of a larger project of renovating this area's water and sewer network, some of which is nearly a century old. The city utilities and streets departments will shortly circulate notices with additional information regarding the ongoing work plans.

As part of the public education and comment opportunity, city department representatives will attend the Ardmore Neighborhood Association annual meeting on the evening of Tuesday, October 12, starting at 7 p.m. at Ardmore Methodist Church on Hawthorne Road. An information table will be set up with staff to answer questions.

While talking about Ardmore-related news, I'd like to congratulate the Ardmore Neighborhood Association on its highly successful Ardmore Neighborhood Centennial Heritage & Home Tour, held last Saturday, September 25. The ANA volunteers put in an enormous amount of work on this event.

I'll also take this chance to encourage participation in the upcoming annual Ardmore 5k running event, to be held Saturday, October 16, with a fun run at 8:30 a.m. and the 5k race at 9 a.m. Proceeds will benefit the Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest NC. The race starts and ends at event sponsor Redeemer Presbyterian Church on Miller Street. Details are found at www.ardmore5k.com.  

Animal Control issues: For years, I've heard repeated (and legitimate) concerns from residents of neighborhoods I represent that our local Animal Control department is not responding promptly to reports of loose dogs and cats. I agree that this is a real concern. Based on my inquiries, it seems that the problem is rooted in understaffing; there aren't enough Animal Control officers in the county to get their job done on a timely basis. This is a Forsyth County agency, not under the control of the City of Winston-Salem. Its budget is set by the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners. This is an election year for the members of that board, and a good opportunity to let the candidates know what you think. Here's where you can get contact information for incumbent commissioners: http://www.co.forsyth.nc.us/Commissioners/.  The following list includes contact information for all this year's commission candidates: http://www.co.forsyth.nc.us/elections/documents/2010GeneralElection.pdf.  

Citizen Fire Academy: The Winston-Salem Fire Department is holding its first Citizen Fire Safety Academy from October 11 to 15. It will be held for those five evenings 6:30-8:30 pm., covering topics like fire prevention, fire equipment, and a firefighting "field day". For more information or to apply, contact Jazmine Pierce at 773-7965 or jpierce@cityofwsfire.org.  

Big Sweep, Oct. 2; Community Roots Day, Oct. 23: The annual Keep Winston-Salem Beautiful cleanup of local waterways is taking place this Saturday, October 2, from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. More than 30 creeks and other spots are on the list. For the first time, the annual city tree-planting project, Community Roots Day, has also been scheduled for October--later in the month, October 23. It's going to be a bonanza month for environmental volunteer opportunities. For more information or to register as a volunteer, see www.kwsb.cityofws.org.