November 2014 Highlights

Winston-Salem citizens overwhelmingly approved five key investment packages in our city's future, and we're making a hard push to get project work underway.

City capital projects bond referendum successful; project work should get off to fast start:    Winston-Salem citizens overwhelmingly approved all five proposed capital projects bond categories this month. Voters approved $42 million for streets and sidewalks, $31 million for public safety (police and fire) facilities, $31 million for parks and recreation, $10 million for housing and neighborhood work, and $25 million for economic development. (These are all capital investments like buildings, streets, and other construction or renovation, not staff salaries or other operating expenses.) The approved bonds total a little more than $139 million.

Optimistic about our chances, the city started work before the election to prepare for a fast start on project work in case the bonds were approved. I expect contracts for approved projects to begin coming forward for city council approval as soon as January. In order to ensure accountability and transparency to the public, we are appointing a special Citizens' Bond Oversight Committee to keep watch over the process as well. Appointments to that committee should expect be finalized in December. Finally, the city council's four standing committees (Finance, Public Works, Public Safety, and Community Development/Housing/General Government) will hear regular reports on progress. Each committee meets monthly. I'll report in future Southwest Ward Updates on the progress of major projects as they occur.

As questions about particular projects come to mind, please contact me.

Southwest Suburban Area Plan Update process starting:    The public input process for the Southwest Suburban Area Plan Update is scheduled to begin with a public meeting on Thursday, December 4, 6-8 p.m., at Little Creek Recreation Center (610 Foxcroft Drive). These small area plans are designed to provide a clear picture of the state of our community and development in that area, make recommendations for future development there, and offer analysis of the public facilities and resources that will be needed to serve those neighborhoods and residents in the future. The December 4 meeting will provide a review of the planning process, and begin taking public comments and questions for discussion.

Leaf collection routes are on round 2:    As of this writing, round 2 (of 3) of the leaf collections for this season is underway in the Southwest Ward. There will be one more round of general curbside leaf collections this year, which should reach our quadrant in late December. You can check the estimated date your neighborhood will be reached by using the links below. CAVEAT: Estimated collection dates may be revised frequently based on weather and leaf volumes, so don't wait until the last minute. The city has added new equipment and extra crews this year, and the collections process appears to be going more smoothly than previously. To avoid having your leaves missed during a round, please remember to keep all sticks and other debris out of the leaf piles. Be sure that your cars are not parked on or in front of leaves any day that collection may take place. Place leaves behind the curb and do not block sidewalks or travel lanes. Thanks!

Leaf collection map overview: http://www4.cityofws.org/Cows_ServiceFinder/LeafCollection.aspx

Leaf collection information overview: http://www.cityofws.org/departments/sanitation/collections/leaf-route

Ardmore area utilities-damaged streets work complete:    The repaving of street blocks in the Ardmore area which were damaged by the latest round of utilities renovation work has been completed. Some other blocks which were affected by an earlier round of work prior to this past year, and which were not repaved, are set to be re-evaluated soon. If they qualify for resurfacing under the new policy, they can be included in next year's resurfacing contracts. Thanks to all the neighbors for your patience with this important long-term project.

National League of Cities conference:    I helped to represent the City of Winston-Salem at the National League of Cities (NLC) annual conference in Austin, Texas, last week. During my several days at the conference, I participated in shaping NLC policy on transportation infrastructure and services; took part in workshops and meetings on energy efficiency, transportation alternatives, local programs to fight childhood obesity, new public safety technology, and police-community relations; and represented Winston-Salem at the NLC's annual business meeting, where policy was adopted and officers elected. I've written a high-points summary of my participation in the conference, and posted it separately to www.danbesse.org. 

Ferguson reaction:    I share in the concern of other Americans regarding the outcome of the grand jury inquiry into the shooting death of Michael Brown. Having not been in a position to review all the evidence presented in that case, I cannot pass judgment on the wisdom of the jury's decision. However, I believe that I know the realities of life in our communities well enough to understand why many feel that the decision was unjust. As a Winston-Salem City Council Member, I cannot directly affect the events in a distant community. I can only promise to continue to work for the safety of our own city and everyone in it, good and open relationships between our police and all parts of our community, and both peace and justice for all.

I hope that everyone has enjoyed a happy and safe Thanksgiving holiday!

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