I'm pleased to report more progress on pedestrian safety projects, this month for the Cloverdale Avenue area.
Cloverdale pedestrian safety project: At our August 15 meeting, the city council approved phase one of the Cloverdale Avenue safety improvement project. This phase of the project will improve pedestrian safety by reconfiguring Cloverdale's intersections with Oakwood Drive, Magnolia Street, and Melrose Street; adding improved crosswalks at those intersections; and extending the sidewalk along Cloverdale from Magnolia to the entrance to Cloverdale Shopping Center. These are among the recommendations from a safety study of the area completed last fall.
Since we are taking advantage of federal transportation dollars to cover most of the cost of the project, it has to go through a more extended set of review steps by the state Dept. of Transportation. As a result, construction will probably not take place until 2012. However, the key conceptual approvals have now been made.
West Suburban Area Plan public hearing: The City/County Planning Board will hold its public hearing on the draft West Suburban Area Plan at its meeting on Thursday, September 8. The meeting begins at 4:30 p.m. on the fifth floor of the Stuart Building (100 E. 1st Street). (This item is far down in the agenda, so it's uncertain at what hour it will be reached.) The West Suburban area includes that part of the Southwest Ward which is west of Silas Creek Parkway, between Country Club Road and US 421. (It also includes parts of the West and Northwest wards.)
Small area plans provide guidance for city departments in reviewing zoning issues and planning infrastructure development. The plans are not legally binding, but they are developed with much thought and citizen input, so their recommendations are very influential. The draft West Suburban Area Plan has been put together with help from a citizen advisory committee and several public input meetings over the past year. Once approved by the Planning Board, it will come to the city council for consideration before final adoption.
Officer loss: Winston-Salem suffered the loss of a dedicated public servant with the death of Police Officer Russell Willingham. Officer Willingham lost his life in the line of duty when his vehicle crashed while he was responding to a colleague's call for assistance in the early morning hours of July 30. Please continue to keep the family of Officer Willingham and his law enforcement colleagues in your thoughts.
Copper theft: The theft of copper and other metals from vacant houses is an increasing problem nationwide. Following one incident near Queen Street last month, the fire department had to be called to assist in dealing with a dangerous natural gas leak caused by the theft of copper piping from one vacant house. For more information on this problem, why it's on the rise, and how you can help police in stopping these criminals, please see http://www.cityofws.org/Assets/CityOfWS//Documents/Police/Crime%20Prevention/Metal%20Thefts%20-%20A%20Natiowide%20Epidemic.pdf.
September calendar: A number of noteworthy citywide events are taking place over the next month. I'd particularly call your attention to these:
--Winston-Salem city commemoration of the 9/11/01 attacks, memorial for the victims, and recognition of our local first responders: Sunday, Sept. 11, 2 p.m., Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
--"Rock the Block" downtown celebration: Saturday, Sept. 17, downtown.
--"Big Sweep" community cleanup: Saturday, Oct. 1, 9 a.m., locations around the city. See www.kwsb.cityofws.org for more information.
National Night Out: 2011 was another good year for Winston-Salem's participation in National Night Out, the annual celebration of the partnership between our police department and citizen neighborhood groups in reducing crime and keeping our community safe. During this year's edition on Aug. 2, I was able to make it to neighborhood events in Konnoak Hills, Brantley Street, Seasons Chase, Preston Downs, and Mar-Don Hills. Thanks to everyone who participated.
A reminder: If you don't have a neighborhood watch where you live and would like more information about organizing one, check out http://www.cityofws.org/Home/Departments/Police/NeighborhoodWatch/Articles/NeighborhoodWatch.
National Guard deployment: Finally, on August 13 I had the opportunity to participate in the departure ceremony for the Army National Guard 883rd Engineer Company, based in Winston-Salem. The 883rd is deploying for a tour of duty in Afghanistan. Please keep those men and women and their families in your thoughts over the coming year.