Draft minutes from April 2011 East CAC meeting

East CAC Meeting Minutes
April 2011
Submitted by Secretary Sue Sturgis

Raleigh’s East Citizens Advisory Council held its monthly meeting at 7 p.m. on Monday, April 19, 2011 at the Lions Park Community Center. About 30 people were there, with about a half-dozen attending for the first time. Chairman Mark Turner recorded the meeting, with video available at www.eastraleigh.org. The March 2011 minutes were approved without changes.

Mark noted that the community was dealing with the aftermath of the April 16 tornado that caused significant destruction in the ECAC area behind the Food Lion shopping center on Raleigh Boulevard, hitting especially hard in the Lockwood neighborhood that encompasses North King Charles, Marlborough, Millbank, Euston and Brighton.

SUCCESS REPORTS: Mark reported driving down Milburnie Road today and seeing that a lot of fallen trees have already been cleaned up. It’s clear that crews have been working hard.

Charlene Willard, Raleigh Community Services Department’s liaison to the ECAC, reported that her department would coordinate a volunteer relief effort to help with storm cleanup once Parks & Recreation finished assessing conditions. There’s an online volunteer signup available at www.raleighnc.gov/stormhelp; within a few hours of the site’s launch, 275 people had registered to help.

In other good news from the ECAC, Mark was invited to talk about his work as a blogger to participants in Raleigh Digital Connectors. A partnership between the city and One Economy, a global nonprofit that works to bring technology to underserved communities, the Digital Connectors program offers technology training for youth from diverse backgrounds between the ages of 14 through 21.

ECAC Secretary Sue Sturgis recently served as a volunteer coordinator for the Upper Neuse Riverkeeper’s cleanup of Crabtree Creek between Raleigh and Crabtree boulevards, part of the group’s annual cleanup of the Neuse River, which the creek feeds. Sue reported that the cleanup was a success, with about 60 volunteers showing up at her site alone at Lockwood Playground. Overall that day, more than 325 volunteers collected more than 13,000 pounds of trash, recyclables and tires.

The Belvidere Park neighborhood entrance columns are almost finished and will soon be ready for landscaping.

PARKS AND RECREATION REPORT: Lions Park Director Christie Jones reported that the park had suffered minimal damage in the tornado, with only about three trees down and no damage to buildings. The city is still assessing the damage at other parks, with some including the Oakwood Dog Park temporarily closed.

Christie reminded everyone about the city’s fishing tackle loaner program, with Lions Park and other community centers office lending free rods and reels to use for fishing city lakes.

Christie ran down a list of upcoming events and classes being offered. For the latest class information, pick up a copy of the Leisure Ledger at any city community center or download one at http://1.usa.gov/gH4caa. For a complete city calendar of events, visit http://www.raleighnc.gov/calendar.

POLICE REPORT: Community Police Officer James Kryskowiak went over the latest crime numbers. He noted a relatively high number of simple assaults, and said almost all of those were domestic-related.

There were also 17 officer-initiated drug arrests; he attributed the relatively high number to foot patrols the department launched recently with federal grant money. Once school’s out, they will be doing as many as two patrols a day. Part of the goal is to engage with youth more.

In more good news, Officer Kryskowiak reported that Raleigh North Apartments on Raleigh Boulevard has completed its new community center. This summer, a church group will feed children and teach classes there.

Of the burglaries in the area over the previous month, most involved rear entries through the window, with no other discernible patterns. There were also eight larcenies from motor vehicles, all of which involved items being left in view. He reminded everyone to “lock, take and hide,” and to store valuables in the trunk.

Officer Kryskowiak had no details regarding the March 26 homicide of a woman on Calumet Drive because it’s an ongoing investigation. He also reported a prostitution arrest on State Street; police saw a known female prostitute getting into a car with a man and arrested her. He was not sure what happened to the man but said he’d check and report back.

Someone asked about a recent incident on Marlborough Road in which a driver sped through the crosswalk near Powell Elementary School and almost struck the crossing guard. Officer Kryskowiak reported that the guard hit the car with her hand as it passed by; when he went to the suspect’s house and pointed out the handprint on the vehicle, she confessed and was charged with careless and reckless driving. He asked neighbors in the area to call 911 when they see problem driving so they can establish that it’s a problem. Lowering the speed limit on a street requires the signatures of 75 percent of the residents.

Officer Kryskowiak reported that East Raleigh Community Day is being planned for Saturday, Aug. 6, from 10 a.m. to 3 or 4 p.m. The organizers—which include RPD, Food Lion and the ECAC—are hoping it will be even bigger and better than last year. A new offering will be a round-robin basketball tournament for youth ages 12 to 21, which they hope can generate funds. There will also be having a T-shirt design contest for young people in the neighborhood; the winner will be recognized and volunteers will wear his or her shirt.

CITY COUNCILMAN EUGENE WEEKS: Mr. Weeks came to the meeting after hearing concerns about the post-tornado situation from a ECAC resident. Regarding debris in the streets, he reported that the city was focusing on clearing up the main transportation arteries first, having just finished New Bern Avenue that afternoon. And regarding the lack of electrical service, he reported that crews were out in the area and doing their best to get the lights back on. He assured residents that the city is paying attention to the community’s plight.

PUBLIC UTILITIES DIRECTOR JOHN CARMAN: Mr. Carman moved to Raleigh 15 months ago to take over the Public Utilities Department after the retirement of Mr. Dale Crisp. An engineer by training, Mr. Carman is a Utah water utilities veteran and previously worked for the engineering firm CH2M Hill in Colorado. He says the department wants to do a better job reaching out to the community.

He began with an overview of Raleigh’s public utilities system, which encompasses water and sewer service. While there are features above ground we can see, a big part of the system is underground; and while the aboveground infrastructure is worth about $2 billion, what’s below worth four to five times that much. He also noted that because Raleigh is a sprawling community, it has a relatively large amount of pipeline to maintain. Over the next 30 years, the department anticipates replacing a half-billion dollars’ worth of water pipe.

Mr. Carman observed that Raleigh’s residents have done a good job honoring the request to conserve water: Since 1980, per capita consumption has dropped by about half. He said that the city would continue to ask residents to conserve, though he acknowledged that means Raleigh will have to raise rates. However, he noted that it is still quite a bargain, with the average home using just $1.41 worth of services per day.

Fortunately, the recent tornado largely spared the system. A tree crushed an electrical panel at one sewage lift station, but the department managed to get a crew there and hook up emergency generation, thus avoiding a spill.

LISA BECKWITH, GILEAD PHARMACY: Ms. Beckwith thanked the community for welcoming her independently owned pharmacy into the Longview Shopping Center on New Bern Avenue. She reported on some of their services, including free delivery within a six-mile radius of the store, special packaging to help customers track their prescriptions, and an alert system that will text or call customers to remind them to take their drugs. They also offer a $6 medication program comparable to big-box stores’ $4 program, and they work with people who are unable to pay, as they don’t want to turn anyone away. They also sell greeting cards and sodas. Everyone is invited to the grand opening celebration in early May, where food will be served. Look for flyers in your mailbox.

DISCUSSION ON TORNADO ISSUES: A resident of Colleton Road said she was concerned about what was going on in her neighborhood since the storm, pointing to a lack of media attention, many people with nowhere to turn, and looting at night. She spoke with the manager of Raleigh North/Millbank Court Apartments, whose tenants are facing significant hardships since many rely on food stamps and thus can’t necessarily just go out and replace spoiled food. She said she was planning a community fundraiser and would contact the group with details.

A man came to distribute flyers for a free debris-hauling service he was offering through his moving company and with help from truck driver friends. A resident of Millbank Street reported that she had called Mr. Weeks and state Rep. Rosa Gill and reminded them of the community’s needs. Someone recalled earlier discussions about establishing an ECAC resource list of residents’ skills and noted that something like that would be helpful in any future disaster situation.

Charlene Willard encouraged people to reach out to Community Services and let them know what sort of volunteer assistance is needed and where. You can reach her at (919) 255-8799 or charlene dot willard at raleighnc dot gov.

In a final item of business, the ECAC voted unanimously to authorize the purchase of new meeting announcement signs. The next meeting will take place at Lions Park on Monday, May 16, at 7 p.m.

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