It's Halloween, so be safe and have a hoowwwling good time.
Halloween safety: Halloween is always an important time to be careful of safety issues, since it's full of children walking after dark on sometimes crowded streets. This year it's especially important for those taking children trick-or-treating in the Ardmore neighborhood to be aware of the street construction work in progress as part of the utilities line renovation project. The contractor has been asked to safe the area as much as possible for that evening, but it's inevitable that some bumps and dips will remain, so be alert. For more general Halloween safety tips, see www.cityofws.org/Home/Departments/Police/CrimePrevention/Articles/HalloweenSafety.
On an ongoing basis, if you live in an area affected by that Ardmore utilities line renovation project and have a question about work scheduling or need to report a specific problem, the fastest way to get good help may be to contact the Utilities Division staff person who is overseeing the contract: Mike Patton email@example.com or 771-5121. He's doing good work--thanks Mike!
Leaf collection begins: Our annual leaf collection process is scheduled to begin Tuesday, November 1. As in recent previous years, there will be three rounds of collection in each part of the city. This year, there's a new online feature designed to make it easier to track when the collection crews can be expected to reach your street. Remember to please rake your leaves to the edge of the street, but DON'T block the sidewalk or pile them out into the travel lanes. For leaf collection guidelines and to review the interactive collection progress tracking tool, see http://www.cityofws.org/Home/Departments/MarketingAndCommunications/NewsArchive/News2011/Articles/LeafCollectionStartsNov1WithNewAutomatedTrucks
West Suburban Area Plan: The West Suburban Area Plan is scheduled for its final public hearing at the City Council's November 7 meeting, which starts at 7 p.m. at City Hall. The West Suburban small area takes in that part of the city which is north of Business 40/Hwy 421, west of Silas Creek Parkway, and southwest of Reynolda Road. It includes sections of the Northwest, Southwest, and West wards. Its Southwest Ward neighborhoods include South Fork, Sheffield Gardens, Mar-Don Hills, and the Old Vineyard Road.
Small area plans help guide city departments in planning infrastructure development and in reviewing zoning issues. While they are not legally binding, they are very influential. To review the proposed West Suburban Area Plan, go to http://www.cityofws.org/Home/Departments/Planning/AreaPlans/Articles/WestSuburban.
New ward lines: We're in the process of re-drawing city ward district lines to take account of population growth shifts since the last census. Federal law requires us to keep the population of each voting ward approximately equal. Since some areas grew at a faster rate than others, we have to shift many of the district lines. All of the wards are affected. For example, population in the South Ward grew more rapidly than in the West Ward over the past 10 years. As a result, the Southwest Ward will need to give up some area to the West Ward, and gain some area from the South Ward.
Planning staff have prepared a proposed new ward lines map for City Council consideration. A public hearing was held in October, and the Council is scheduled to consider and vote on the proposed map at our November 21 meeting. To review the proposed ward lines in detail, go to http://www.cityofws.org/Home/CityGovernment/CityCouncil/Articles/WardLineRealignment2010Census.
New recycling carts: At our October 17 meeting, the City Council approved the contract for purchase of the new roll-out recycling carts. The carts should begin to be delivered to homes in December, and the entire city should be shifted to roll-out recycling cart pickup by April 2012. The roll-out carts have more capacity than the current small bins, and for most people should be easier to use. In addition, the carts' greater capacity will allow us to save money by shifting from weekly to bi-weekly recycling collection--without causing problems for homeowners. In fact, pilot project neighborhoods around the city showed that recycling participation substantially increased with the new carts, while collection costs dropped dramatically. Better service and lower costs is the kind of deal we love to make.
NLC/NCLM meetings: In late October I participated in two productive meetings with hundreds of other city and town officials. On October 24-25, I took part in the N.C. League of Municipalities annual conference in Raleigh. A key value of these meetings to our city is the opportunity they provide for our elected officials to have in-depth discussions about shared concerns with other cities' representatives, state agency staff, and program experts. For example, this year I had the chance to talk with the state Dept. of Transportation deputy secretary about ways to cut costs and improve efficiency of transportation project construction. I also picked up ideas on how to save energy and money in our city utilities and vehicle use.
On October 27, I had the chance to join about 140 city/town officials from around the nation in a special briefing for the National League of Cities at the White House on national and urban economic issues, and legislative proposals to speed up job creation. Presenters included the U.S. Secretaries of Transportation and of Housing and Urban Development, the White House Chief of Staff, and Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor to the President. During discussion, I again took the opportunity to raise issues of efficiency and timeliness of project construction with Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. (You may detect a theme here.) That wasn't an opportunity that comes along every day, and I wanted to make good use of it.
Home Run: Join fellow runners and walkers from around our community on November 19 for a 5k/10k race and fun run to raise awareness and money to aid homeless veterans. I will be running--let me encourage all of you who can to help out. Here's the link to more information, including registration: www.cityofws.org/Assets/CityOfWS//Documents/news/homerun5kflier_2011.pdf