September 2013 Highlights

Households in the western part of the city should watch out for discolored water this week due to water line repairs. And please remember that early voting for the city general election begins October 17.

Discolored water alert for western areas of city:      The Utilities Department has issued an advisory that the areas of the city between Stratford Road and Reynolda Road could experience some discolored water beginning today (Sept. 30), while a large water transmission main is being repaired. The Swann Water Treatment Plant will go offline during the repair, and other plants and pumping stations will be pumping more water than usual, which could shake loose some rust or fine silt from some pipes. The water will be safe to use, but could result in laundry stains if color is visible. Check out your water before starting a load. If you notice any discoloration, please report it to CityLink at 311 or 727-8000. That will help Utilities prioritize their line flushing efforts.

Municipal general election early voting begins Oct.17:      The Winston-Salem municipal general election for mayor and city council seats will be November 5, and early voting begins October 17. Residents of the Southwest Ward will have the opportunity to vote for both mayor and your city council representative. Early voting begins October 17 at the Forsyth County Government Center, 201 N. Chestnut Street. Voting hours there will be 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Thurs.-Fri. Oct. 17-18, Mon.-Fri. Oct. 21-25, and Mon.-Fri. Oct.28--Nov. 1; and 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sat. Nov. 2. Election day voting is Nov. 5 at your regular polling place in your individual precinct. If you've recently moved and don't know where your polling place is, check the Forsyth Board of Elections website at www.forsythvotes.org. Remember that if you or someone you know has moved and needs to update voter registration (or register for the first time), you can do that and vote in one stop during the early voting period--but if you wait until the regular November election day it's too late to update your registration then!

Pedestrian projects update:      September has been a great month for progress on pedestrian projects in the Southwest Ward. The Magnolia Street sidewalk from Westover Drive to Queen Street has been completed, finishing a continuous safe pedestrian pathway from Cherokee Lane across Hawthorne Road to Queen Street and Cloverdale Avenue. A formerly missing block of sidewalk on Cherokee Lane has been built, completing the sidewalk connection from Bolton Street to Magnolia Street. Finally, the long-anticipated Little Creek Greenway has started construction. That greenway's phase one will connect the Atwood neighborhoods to Little Creek Park and Recreation Center, and connect those neighborhoods and Salem Woods to the Little Creek shopping center on Hanes Mall Boulevard.

Research park development project:      The city council at our September 16 meeting approved participation with Forsyth County in a new development project at the Piedmont Triad Research Park (a.k.a. Wake Forest Innovation Quarter). The public part of that project is a partial underwriting of the costs of building a new parking deck. Incentives payments will amount to 65% of the net new property taxes paid on the deck the year before. That's the standard form of payment insisted upon in incentives packages approved in Winston-Salem. It guarantees taxpayers that the project will result in net new tax revenue for the city, and not produce a loss to city taxpayers. This incentives deal is set to last 18 years, with the property to remain taxable in full for at least 20 years thereafter. The deal also requires that new development on the adjacent property which would otherwise have been needed for surface parking will also be taxable. The development leveraged by this incentives package is also required to produce at least 50 net new jobs.

Guns in parks:      On a less positive note, the city council on October 16 also approved changes to our ordinances regulating guns in parks, at the requirement of the state legislature. The N.C. General Assembly this year adopted an extremely unwise (in my view) piece of legislation stripping local governments of our historic right to prohibit guns in city-owned parks, playgrounds, and greenways. This year's legislation on that front is a continuation of steps the General Assembly began taking last year in that unwise direction. The legislature is acting under the inaccurate theory set forth forth by gun enthusiastic groups that concealed carry permit holders are immune from mistakes, misfires, and bad judgment. The factual record in North Carolina and elsewhere does not support that conclusion.

The Winston-Salem city council is continuing to push back against this bad direction in state public policy. Our new local ordinance continues to prohibit all guns from as many parts of our parks and recreation areas as legally possible. It also requires posting signs on greenways discouraging weapons there, and pointing out that even concealed carry permit holders may face liability if they carry weapons on easements across private property from which the underlying owners exclude weapons. Finally, we adopted a resolution stating our objections to opening city parks and playgrounds to concealed guns, and calling on the state legislature to restore local governments' authority to exclude all weapons from those areas.

If you agree that guns and children are a poor mix, I encourage you to let your representatives in the State House and Senate know your views on the matter of guns in city parks and playgrounds. If you are a concealed carry permit holder, I respect your rights, but I urge you to leave your gun at home when you visit our city parks, playgrounds, and greenways. They are safe places, and you will not need your weapon there.

Sustainability awards:      The Winston-Salem Sustainability Resource Center is accepting nominations for its inaugural Sustainable Business Awards, honoring local businesses, non-profits, groups, and individuals who have made noteworthy contributions to community and environmental sustainability in Forsyth County. Nominations can be third-party or self-nominations. Categories include Business (<50 employees; or 51+ employees), Non-Profit, and "Spirit of the Community" (groups and individuals). Nominations must be submitted by October 10 at 4 p.m. to Megan Anderson, andersmm@wfu.edu.

Run Against Hunger:      The Ardmore RAH (Run Against Hunger) 5k and 10k will be held this year on the morning of Saturday, October 19, beginning at Redeemer Presbyterian Church on Miller Street. These races (the traditional 5k and the new 10k) will wind through the streets of Ardmore, and raise money to benefit the Second Harvest Food Bank. For more details and to register, go to www.ardmorerah.com.

Big Sweep and Community Roots Day:      Keep Winston-Salem Beautiful is sponsoring two of its most popular events of the year this month:

--The Big Sweep community cleanup day will clean up streams and parks around our community on Saturday, October 5, from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

--Community Roots Day will take place Saturday, October 26, from 9 a.m. to noon, and this year will plant its trees in the Castle Heights neighborhood.

To sign up for either or both events, go to http://www.cityofws.org/departments/keep-winston-salem-beautiful/news/articletype/categoryview/categoryid/27/keep-ws-beautiful

That's my report for September. As always, you are welcome to email me at danbesse@danbesse.org with comments or questions. Thanks!

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