In March, we made progress on a variety of transportation projects.
Transportation work update: March was a good month for progress on a number of transportation-related projects and programs in Winston-Salem. Here are some of the highlights:
--PART veterans fare discount: The Piedmont Authority for Regional Transportation (PART) Board, which I currently chair, approved a half-cost discount fare for veterans on all PART Express intercity buses.
--Cherokee Lane sidewalk construction: Construction is underway now on this important safe walking link, from Magnolia Street to Ebert Road, on the otherwise narrow, winding, and high-traffic Cherokee Lane.
--Union Station renovation groundbreaking: We have kicked off the renovation of this historic passenger rail station, which will serve as a multimodal transportation hub and natural center for transportation-oriented development in East Winston.
--Polo Road sidewalk groundbreaking: We kicked off the new pedestrian and cycling safety improvements on this high-traffic thoroughfare.
--Multi-Use Path grant application: City council committees approved the application for a federal grant of $5 million to help complete this ambitious safe biking and pedestrian facility from the WFU/BMC main campus area to the east side of downtown. It will serve neighborhoods in four city wards directly, and act as a key currently missing link for a safe bike/pedestrian network citywide. Final city council consideration of the grant application is scheduled for April 4.
--Griffith Road sidewalk funding: This major sidewalk project is one of the recommended pedestrian project priorities in a package now scheduled for funding consideration at the May meeting of the Winston-Salem Urban Area Transportation Advisory Committee.
--Bike/Pedestrian safety campaign: Winston-Salem’s city Department of Transportation on March 25 started a four-week public education and enforcement campaign to promote cycling and pedestrian safety. It will be aimed at reminding motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians of the rules and responsibilities for safe interaction on our public streets. More details are available from Matthew Burczyk, the city’s bicycle and pedestrian coordinator, at email@example.com.
Cloverdale Apartments/Ardmore Terrace update: In late February, I was able to announce the draft outline of a potential compromise with the apartment owners over the future of Cloverdale Apartments and Ardmore Terrace. While I emailed this update to my list of concerned residents and neighbors at that time, many of the rest of you may not have seen it yet. To remedy that, I have posted the most recent update in full here: http://www.danbesse.org/Issues/CurrentTopic1.aspx
As I note in the update, this is a draft outline only. Many details remain to be worked out. There will be public review and comment meetings held. Final approval of any rezoning will include a public comment process and require approval by the Planning Board and/or the City Council.
February update: Due to extra time spent dealing with the neighborhood power outage problems following the windstorm during the last week in February, my Southwest Ward Update for the month was unusually late. It included reports on the Police District 3 station groundbreaking, the new Quarry Park, phase 1 of the WFIQ rail-trail, and the Southwest Area Plan Update. If you haven’t seen it yet and would like to read any of those items, it’s posted here: http://www.danbesse.org/2016News/February2016Highlights.aspx
House Bill 2 concerns: On March 23, the N.C. General Assembly (state legislature) convened for a one-day special session. It was supposedly held to address an alleged public safety concern related to public restrooms in Charlotte’s local ordinance prohibiting discrimination in access to public accommodations. However, by the time legislators went home that night, they had introduced and adopted a surprise bill cutting back on anti-discrimination laws statewide. Several of that bill’s provisions have the potential to adversely impact ongoing work here in Winston-Salem to improve our local economy, promote better work pay and benefits, encourage the development of minority- and women-owned businesses, and build a more inclusive community. In the few days since the legislature acted, major businesses around the nation are warning of cutbacks on their investments here in North Carolina as a result. I’ve drafted a resolution asking our legislators to revisit and repair the many problems with this legislation. The city council will further consider that resolution in April.
National League of Cities conference report: On March 6-8, I helped to represent Winston-Salem at the National League of Cities (NLC) annual conference in Washington on federal policy issues. I’ve posted my full report on this meeting, especially work developing funding opportunities and technical assistance for Winston-Salem transportation projects and programs, here: http://www.danbesse.org/Issues/CurrentTopic3.aspx
Page video released: Late last year, Mr. Travis Page died shortly after being taken into police custody in Winston-Salem. Mr. Page was in the process of being apprehended as a suspect in a shooting incident when he tried to run from an officer. He tripped and fell, and apparently went into cardiac arrest while being handcuffed. Efforts to resuscitate Mr. Page were unsuccessful. The case was referred to the State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) for investigation, and an autopsy performed. The results of the investigation indicated that Mr. Page suffered from serious health problems (including an enlarged heart) and that he was intoxicated at the time as well, factors which appeared to contribute to the cause of death. At a March 14 news conference, the Forsyth District Attorney described the course of events and played 911 tapes and video from a police officer body cam which recorded the entire incident. The medical examiner who conducted the autopsy described the results. It appears that Mr. Page’s death was a tragic accident and that the officers were not at fault. The investigation concluded that the police officers involved acted appropriately. City staff recorded the news conference, including the audio and video tapes, and it can be reviewed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cm3LrClFvZc&feature=youtu.be
Loss of community leaders: In March, we lost three community leaders who I personally knew and had the privilege of working with: State Senator Earline Parmon, Darryl Hunt, and Glenda Keels. Senator Parmon was a long-serving community leader in county government, the NC House, and the NC Senate, and a pioneer for equal opportunity for all in our community. Mr. Hunt received a pardon of innocence after being wrongfully convicted for homicide and serving years in prison. He came out to become a leader in Winston-Salem and beyond for reform of our justice system, and opportunity for those re-entering society from incarceration. Ms. Keels worked for many years as an advocate and champion for downtown Winston-Salem and the successful ongoing revitalization of our city center. These leaders will be missed, but their work will continue.
Upcoming April events: There are several city events of interest in April:
--Fair Housing Month starts April 1, with multiple activities sponsored by the Winston-Salem Human Relations Department. http://www.cityofws.org/Departments/Human-Relations
--Fairgrounds Skate Park opens April 2 (Saturday) at 11 a.m. with a celebration event. http://www.cityofws.org/News/ID/15544/Fairgrounds-Skate-Park-Holding-Grand-Opening-April-2
--Forsyth Creek Week runs April 2-10 with educational and recreational events for the family. https://forsythcreekweek.squarespace.com/
--Miller Park renovations plan public review meeting is April 21 (Thursday) at 6 p.m. at the Miller Park Recreation Center. We’ll see and comment on the plan developed in response to community input.
--Ardmore Neighborhood Association’s “Ardmore Remembers” event is April 23 (Saturday) from 2-4 p.m. at Miller Park Recreation Center.
That’s my report for March. As always, you are welcome to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with comments or questions. Thanks!