January 2011 Highlights

In January, the city council approved two small area plans and reviewed strategic priorities for the coming year.

Strategic priorities reviewed: The city council on January 31 held its annual review and discussion of focus items for the coming year. In addition to dealing with the usual annual responsibilities like adopting a budget, our work plan items for this year include the following:

--promoting private sector job growth through efforts like the Research Park and urban commercial area revitalization projects;

  • accelerating sidewalk construction;
  • continuing to address juvenile crime issues such as gangs and graffiti;
  • improving our long-term budget forecasts; and
  • addressing our solid waste management needs.

I'll try to address any particular questions you may have about these efforts--or, if you're really into digging through the entire 91-page strategic priorities document, updated last year, here's the online link: http://www.cityofws.org/Assets/CityOfWS//Documents/City%20Manager/strategicplan20062009final_12mar2010.pdf  

Small area plans approved; more to come: In January, the council gave final approval to the small area plans for the South Suburban area and the Northeast Suburban area. A small part of the South Suburban planning area falls within the Southwest Ward--that part bordered by Silas Creek Parkway on the north, Ebert Street on the west, and Miller Street on the east. If you live there, or are otherwise interested in planning for the larger South Suburban area, you can review the approved plan online at http://www.cityofws.org/Home/Departments/Planning/AreaPlans/Articles/SouthSuburban  

The small area plans describe the planning area and neighborhoods covered in detail, and serve as guidance documents for city/county Planning Department staff in reviewing zoning and development proposals. The Planning Board and City Council also take them into account in related decisions. Among the other small area plans which have already been approved by the city council are the Southwest Area Plan and the Southwest Suburban Area Plan, which include most of the Southwest Ward. The Northwest Suburban Area Plan, which includes another part of the Southwest Ward, is under development now.

Of the 21 small area plans, the final one to start the review process is the Northwest Area Plan. The Northwest planning area includes another piece of the Southwest Ward: the part bordered by Silas Creek Parkway on the west, Business 40 on the south, and Country Club Road on the north. The Citizen Advisory Committee for the Northwest Area Plan begins meeting in February. I am still looking for two volunteers, residents of that area, to serve on the Northwest Area Plan Citizen Advisory Committee. If you live in the affected area and think you may be interested in that process, please contact me ASAP.

Non-residential building code up for public hearing: Over the past two years, the city council has been working on a draft building conditions code to help us address problems with vacant non-residential property. These are problems like damaged walls, broken windows, and other signs of serious deterioration that can present public safety hazards and degrade the value of other nearby property. We're finally ready to consider a proposed conditions code for these properties. We will hold a public hearing and consider adoption of this item at our first council meeting in February: Monday, February 7, at 7 p.m. at City Hall. The full draft code is available online at http://www.cwsonline.org/sirepub/cache/2/4wsc1k55ie1mru553wiqd5fj/2130250131201111570071.PDF  

Roll-out recycling carts get big reception: Last July, the city began testing new roll-out bins for recycling at 1,800 homes in eight neighborhoods across Winston-Salem. The reception has been encouraging: Average recycling volume per participating home more than tripled, compared to use of the smaller carry-out bins. The increase came despite moving from weekly to biweekly pickup of recycling.

That means we can increase recycling and cut costs simultaneously. I expect plans for citywide use of the roll-out recycling carts with biweekly pickup to be considered by the council this year.

Greenway public meetings: The Planning Board is in the process of updating our city/county Greenway Plan. As a part of that, Planning staff are holding a series of public input meetings on several proposed greenway sections that have been ranked highest on connectivity value and engineering feasibility. Two of those directly affect the Southwest Ward. One is the Salem Creek Extension, which would connect from the western end of the existing Salem Creek Trail at Marketplace Mall, over to the Forsyth Tech main campus. A public meeting held January 24 at the Southside Branch Library was well attended by greenway supporters, mostly from the Ardmore and West Salem neighborhoods.

The other Southwest Ward greenway on this list is phase two of the Little Creek Greenway. A public input meeting for it will be held Tuesday, March 1, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Little Creek Recreation Center on Foxcroft Drive.

If you're interested in more details on these and the other greenway sections under review, you can go to http://www.cityofws.org/Home/Departments/Planning/Articles/NowFeaturing  

Bicycle and pedestrian survey underway: Are you interested in bicycle and pedestrian safety issues? Then the N.C. Department of Transportation wants to hear from you. NC DOT is conducting an online survey to collect citizen feedback on these issues. The deadline for submitting comments is February 8. Here's where to participate: http://www.itre.ncsu.edu/Public/Bike-Ped-NCDOT-Survey.html

Citizens' Police Academy applications being accepted: Finally this month, I'll point out that the Winston-Salem Police Department is accepting applications for the Citizens' Police Academy. It's a 13-week program to help acquaint citizens with the work of our police, and includes topics such as search and seizure laws, crime prevention, domestic violence investigations, narcotics operations, and other items. Classes meet weekly from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Thursday evenings, starting March 24.

The class is limited to 30 students and the application deadline is March 1. An application form can be filled out online at http://www.cityofws.org/Home/Departments/Police/Articles/CitizensPoliceAcademy