Draft minutes from June 2010 East CAC meeting

East CAC Meeting Minutes
June 2010
Submitted by Secretary Sue Sturgis

Chairman Mark Turner called the meeting of the Raleigh East CAC to order shortly after 7 p.m. on Monday, June 21 at Lions Park Community Center. The meeting was recorded, with streaming video available at www.eastraleigh.org. The May minutes were approved with the correction of a typo.

Announcements: On June 22 the City Planning Department will hold a transition workshop to discuss zoning around different types of uses. The neighborhood association and CAC portion of the workshop is from 4 to 5:30 p.m.; there will also be a community workshop later that evening. This is of interest to the ECAC since the group will be involved in the redevelopment of the New Bern and Capital Boulevard corridors.

The Capital Boulevard study workshop will take place on Thursday, June 24 at Bobby Murray Chevrolet. Registration will begin at 6 p.m., and the meeting is scheduled from 6:30 to 8:30. Please pre-register if you can so the city has an idea of how many people to expect.

Success Reports: The new playground at Lions Park has been dedicated. The facility is proving a popular and welcome addition to the community. The new playground at Lockwood Park is also nearing completion.

The litter problem has been reduced on Bertie Drive; the ECAC has been working closely with Enloe PTA on that. People are encouraged to organize community litter cleanups. Mark is thinking about doing one on Raleigh Boulevard because of the trash problem there.

Longview Lake Projects: Danny Bowden, Raleigh’s stormwater projects manager with the Public Works Department, updated the ECAC on two projects at Longview Lake—one on the upper lake, and the other a stream project near Enloe High School. The department is also working on a project on the lower lake near the Albemarle Avenue crossing.

The design has been completed or the upper lake project, and the department is working with the school system on a final easement. The department is now waiting to see whether it will get stimulus money for the project from the federal government.

There are also plans to improve the stream along the high school property and clean out sediment from the upper part of the lake. The dredging that was planned has been reduced somewhat by the permitting agencies, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the N.C. Division of Water Quality. However, the city will still be taking out most of the accumulated sediment.

Also addressing the ECAC was Dan Brubaker, project manager for the Lower Longview Lake Dam Restoration Project. He noted that Albemarle is closed due to deterioration in the superstructure of the bridge that’s a main spillway over lake. Estimates to repair that were $60,000; since there were plans to ultimately remove it anyway, the city decided to save the money and simply close Albermarle. It will re-open once the project is completed.

The preliminary design has been completed for the project on the lower lake. The idea there is to contain a 500-year storm. In case of storms larger than that, the downstream slope will be designed for overtopping so the dam itself won’t be washed away.

During construction, there will be some drawdown of the lake, which is already down somewhat because of the heat. But there are no plans to drain the lake entirely. Construction is expected to take about eight months, with plans to start in the latter half of 2011 and an estimated completion date of February 2012. Local residents are encouraged to contact department staff with any concerns.

Parks and Recreation Report: Lions Park Director Christie Jones began by wishing a Happy Father’s Day to all of the fathers in the room.

She noted that Pullen Park is closed for the season for renovations. The carousel at Chavis Park is open from Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Sunday from 1 to 5:30 p.m.

Next month there will be a public meeting about the Moore Square master plan. For more information, go to www.raleighnc.gov/parkplan and click on Moore Square master plan under current projects.

The Marsh Creek Parks and Rec facility has come aboard, with a ribbon cutting scheduled for Friday, June 25 at 11:30 a.m. The grand opening is scheduled for July 14.

The City of Raleigh’s annual July 4 celebration will be at the state fairgrounds. Activities start at 5 p.m. and run through 8:30, with fireworks set for 9:15 p.m. Activities offered include sports challenges, arts and crafts, Wii games, carnival-style games, a big truck display and an airplane-making contest.

A number of athletic registrations are underway. The season for a teen blacktop basketball league at Southgate begins June 23, while an adult summer league is underway at St. Augustine’s Monday through Friday.

Among the ongoing programs being offered at Lions Park is tae kwon do, which is Tuesday and Thursday from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. The tae kwon do instructor also offers a popular Friday night cardio fitness class. The weight room is open during normal operating hours and costs only $12/month. Registration for youth football and cheerleading opens in July; those activities cost $42 for city residents.

Christie thanked everyone who helped with the Lions Park playground bill. The 85 children attending summer camp at Lions Park love it, and the wider community has embraced it too.

Inspections Report: Dudley Winslow, Kenny Smith and Terry Jones with the Raleigh Inspections Department came to answer questions.

In response to a concern about a vacant house where there are questions about ownership, Mr. Smith noted that the department sends notifications to the owner listed on the deed.

Regarding the burned-out house at 2117 Millbank St., Mr. Smith noted that Mr. House owns the property. The department has an active case on it, but there was a delay in getting letters to the owners because of address problems. Mr. House replaced the windows, reframed some walls, did some plumbing work and installed new wiring, but someone broke in and stole the wiring. The house is now boarded up, and Mr. House has a year to address the problems before Inspections can take further action. Mr. House reports that he has a crew that visits the property every week or so to cut the grass and clean up trash.

Mr. Smith also reported on the Inspections initiative at Raleigh North Apartments, which began about six weeks ago in response to complaints. The department has now gone into about 60 apartments and continues to visit about eight to 10 apartments each week, with the goal of eventually visiting all of them. It has finished with the units from the 1500 to 1200 block of Raleigh Boulevard and brought them into compliance. Electrical problems presented the biggest issue. There was a fire recently in one of the units on Burgundy Street that was started by an exhaust fan. Mr. Smith said the complex has changed management and hired new maintenance workers.

In response to a question about a property at 515 Barksdale, the department said they’re working on it. It’s also dealing with a property at 2442 Kennington, where there was a fire well over a year ago. They had difficulty locating the owner, but expect the case to be heard by City Council in July. They are also working on a case involving the house at 706 Colleton, where there were also problems locating owners.

Police Report: The new Raleigh Police Department Southeast District commander, Capt. Andy Lull, introduced himself. He’s been with the RPD for 23 years, and hopes to serve as captain for the next four. His e-mail address and phone number are available on the website; he encourages residents to call him with any concerns.

Community Police Officer James Kryskowiak handed out the monthly crime report. There were 12 larcenies from motor vehicles, and 10 involved items in plain view. If you must leave something in your vehicle, put it in the trunk.

There were nine aggravated assaults in the past month, but in most of them the suspect and victim knew each other. There was one random assault on Poole Road; the suspect was apprehended and taken to jail.

Officer Krysko also pointed to a sheet listing crime stats from 2008 to 2009, and from 2009 to now. Overall, Part 1 crimes were down 14% over the previous year, which he attributes to residents getting more involved and calling in suspicious behavior.

While there were six murders in 2008-2009, there have been none so far this year. Robberies are down 39%, and larcenies from motor vehicles are down 13%. Aggravated assaults are up by half, however, and a growing portion of those are domestic-related.

Officer Krysko has heard numerous complaints about speeding and launched an enforcement initiative. For the first day of that, rather than issuing citations he took down plate numbers. On Bennett Street, a speeding trouble spot, he found that most of the speeders live in the surrounding area, while those traveling at the highest speeds are using the street as a cut-through. The latter group is the one he’ll be giving citations to first in order to discourage cutting through. His enforcement efforts have also taken him to Lord Ashley, Lord Berkeley and the 800 block of King Charles.

Someone raised a concern about a prostitute working on Glascock Street, standing at a bus stop around 10 or 11 at night. The same woman used to hang out at a bus stop near Lions Park. Officer Krysko said he’d let the drugs and vice squad know about the situation, since that’s not normally a big area for prostitution.

Arrangements have been finalized for opening a community police office at the Food Lion shopping center at Raleigh Boulevard and Glascock Street. Officer Krysko already has the keys in hand; he’s now waiting on the medical equipment people who formerly rented the space to come and remove their stuff. The official grand opening is scheduled for Community Day on Aug. 14, but it should be open before then.

Speaking of Community Day, volunteers are still needed; contact Mark Turner for more details. Also, please let Officer Krysko know if you know of any groups that would be interested in doing outreach at the festival, which will take place in the Food Lion shopping center.

Mayor Charles Meeker: The mayor began by thanking residents of the community for their hard work. “This is how neighborhoods change, by everyone getting involved,” he said.

He discussed the planning process for Capital Boulevard. That will be about more than just a change in appearance for drivers but will also address surrounding land use. The city’s new comprehensive plan shows Raleigh’s downtown area moving north to the Beltline along Capital, though the development there won’t be as intense as it is downtown. Much of what’s being looked at is making the area more attractive to private development. The planning process is open, and planners want to hear from the public.

Mayor Meeker noted that changes are in store for the 18-acre property off Peace Street where sanitation vehicles are now parked. The city has acquired land outside downtown area where those facilities will move in next several years. The property near downtown will then become available for sale for private development.

City leaders want to use the current economic downturn as a time to plan for the future. The last time there was a downturn in 2001-2002 following the 9/11 attacks, the city did planning for a number of projects including the redevelopment of Fayetteville Street and a greenway bond issue. Then when the economy turned around, the city was positioned to move forward. The work on Fayetteville Street is now completed, and the city is working on a greenway along the Neuse River.

The mayor then took questions. In response to a question about what’s happening with Wake County School Board scrapping its economic diversity policy and moving toward neighborhood schools, Mayor Meeker said he’s very concerned, disclosing that his wife serves on the school board. He said that we have people who are not from the area and don’t share our values on the school board, and they are taking steps that could result in some schools where a majority of the student body is well-to-do and others where it is not. “It’s very, very concerning,” he said.

The mayor noted that this is a political problem—the county commissioners who fund the schools ought to step in but have not done so. He noted that there are elections in November. He also said that when the school reassignment plan is issued this fall, analysis would be needed to understand whether it works well or leaves some neighborhoods behind. There’s been discussion about assembling a panel of education and legal experts to conduct this work. If the plan is found to re-segregate the schools, he said it’s likely there will be legal action taken.

Mayor Meeker noted that the Raleigh City Council by a unanimous vote expressed concern about the school board’s effort to revamp its reassignment plan, but to date there’s been no response from the board. “It’s a bad situation,” he said.

In response to a question about conservation-oriented “passive” parks vs. “active” parks with ball fields and such, Mayor Meeker acknowledged that Raleigh’s conservation parks are on the outskirts of the city. However, if plans go forward for a park at Dix Hill, about three-quarters of that would comprise a conservation park. In addition, Christie Jones from Parks and Recreation pointed to the new wetlands education center as a conservation-oriented facility.

The mayor said that there might be a need for another transportation bond issue over the next three or four years, and this would be a way to spur redevelopment in parts of the city. Examples of areas of the city where redevelopment followed transportation work include Glenwood South, Fayetteville Street and Hillsborough Street near N.C. State. By bringing the street itself up to contemporary standards, the city can attract private development money.

Other issues the mayor addressed included the city’s current effort to review its ordinances on community gardens, the discussion underway about creating something akin to San Antonio’s Riverwalk along Capital Boulevard, and the effort to move the successful redevelopment on Cooke Street eastward. In response to a concern about homes in a neighborhood being bought by landlords and turned into rentals, Mayor Meeker said one remedy might be to talk to realtors about helping to market homes in the area to potential buyers.

Charles Miller, Powell Elementary Principal: Charles “Chas” Miller introduced himself as the new principal of Powell Elementary School, and he’s planning to attend the ECAC meetings regularly. On June 23, the school’s PTA is holding a clothing drive; people can drop off gently used clothing at the school from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., and then between 3 and 7 p.m. students and their families can come and choose clothing they want. He will also be pushing for the technology families need so the school can begin streaming video. If residents have any concerns, they should feel free to call him at the school.

CAC Promotion: There is still some community grant money available for CAC outreach. Some of the marketing materials discussed include more CAC signs, a CAC calendar, bumper stickers, a logo, refrigerator magnets, a newcomer’s packet, window decals, T-shirts, and a website. The ECAC unanimously approved a motion for the leadership to look into these ideas.

Raleigh Neighborhood Exchange: This year’s event will take place on Sept. 18 at the McKimmon Center off Western Boulevard; Charlene Willard, the ECAC liaison with the Community Services Department, is coordinating it and encouraged everyone to attend. There will be sessions on topics including starting a farmer’s market, small businesses, growing neighborhood organizations, affordable housing and greening your neighborhood.

Raleigh Area Development Authority: Wallace Green, president of the RADA, gave an overview of his nonprofit organization. Founded to provide financial and counseling assistance to low- and moderate-income Raleigh residents, RADA works to increase the rate of successful homeownership through education services, information and long-term support. For more information, visit http://www.rada-nc.com/.

Wrap-Up: The next ECAC meeting will be held on July 19 at the Lions Park Community Center. Representatives of the Raleigh Police Department will give a follow-up presentation growing out of their earlier meeting with the ECAC on setting goals for policing in the community. They want to check back and see how well they’ve been doing, so most of the meeting will be devoted to that.

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