October 2019 Highlights

The month of October saw action on important traffic and public safety issues.  First, here’s a look ahead to important city services news for November: 

Leaf collection begins:     Loose-leaf collection for the season will begin in Winston-Salem on November 4.  It is scheduled to begin in Quadrant 1 (southeast Winston-Salem) this year, but depending on weather and leaf loads could move fairly quickly into Quadrant 2, which contains most of the Southwest Ward.  For a current look at when the collection trucks are expected to reach your neighborhood (as well as the standing rules for loose-leaf collection), see here:  https://www.cityofws.org/606/Leaf-Routes   

Housing and gentrification symposium Nov. 6:     The city’s Human Relations Department will hold a free day-long symposium on Wed., Nov. 6, on the issue of how ‘gentrification’ (redevelopment of existing neighborhoods by projects which create more expensive housing) affects low-to-moderate-income neighborhoods and residents.   The symposium will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Anderson Conference Center, 601 S. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, Winston-Salem.  The seminar will examine the effects of rehabilitation projects on low- to moderate-income neighborhoods and residents and the impact on the day-to-day lives of those affected. Breakout sessions will cover such topics as how innovative planning and zoning can address gentrification, how downtown revitalization affects housing costs, gentrification and public housing, and the impact of opportunity zones on affordable housing.  The symposium is free and includes lunch. Those interested in attending should register by calling 336-734-1227 or sending an email to HRDEvents@cityofws.org.

Sanitation collection changes in November:     There are two weeks during November when holiday schedules will affect city sanitation collections:

--Veterans Day week of Nov. 11:     Most city offices will be closed on Monday, Nov. 11, in recognition of Veterans Day.  Yard waste cart collection routes will be delayed one day on the week of Nov. 11.  Garbage and recycling will not be affected.

--Thanksgiving Day week of Nov. 25:      Most city offices will be closed on Thursday, Nov. 28, in recognition of Thanksgiving.  All sanitation collection services that week will be affected, details as follows: 
Garbage: Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday collected one day early; Friday collected Monday, Dec. 2.  
Curbside Recycling: BLUE WEEK - Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday normal schedule; Thursday & Friday postponed one day.
Yard Waste Carts: Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday normal schedule; Thursday on Monday, Dec. 2.  All yard waste cart collections week of Dec. 2 postponed one day.
Gunshot detection system:     The city council approved on October 21 the acceptance of a $700,000 grant from the U.S. Dept. of Justice to install and operate for three years a new gunfire detection system for our police department.  This project is a part of our efforts to deal with a local rise in gun crime over the past four years, reflecting a disturbing national trend.  The technology involved in this system is designed to register only gunshots, and to report those immediately to police for rapid response.  Similar systems in other cities in recent years have been shown to significantly shorten police response time to shooting incidents.  We hope to see both a deterrent effect on shootings within the city, and faster intervention to put a stop to incidents and assist any victims.  The Winston-Salem Police Department is one of eight law enforcement agencies nationwide to receive grant funding this year from the Bureau of Justice’s Local Law Enforcement Gun Crime Intelligence Center Integration Initiative.  A gunfire detection system (GDS) works by using an array of acoustic sensors to detect, identify, and triangulate the source of sounds that may represent gunfire within a designated detection area.  The GDS then verifies and authenticates the acoustic signal to classify the event as possible gunfire before automatically reporting the incidents to local law enforcement, usually within seconds of the event.  Use of a GDS should aid in reducing response time for officers and allow for more accurate location reporting of such incidents.  After the three-year trial period, the city will determine whether the results justify maintaining the operating costs of the system. 

Burke Mill Road rezoning request approved, with added conditions to improve traffic flow and safety:     The city council on October 21 and November 4 gave final approval to the rezoning request off Burke Mill Road just north of I-40, from the Truliant Credit Union, with a set of added conditions to ensure that the rezoning results in improved traffic flow and does not adversely impact nearby neighborhoods.  Those conditions include the following:
--There will be no commercial development on Burke Mill Road at this location, and trees and other vegetated buffer will screen off the view of new buildings from Burke Mill and adjacent neighborhoods.
--The secondary access to Truliant from Burke Mill will be a gated driveway accessible only to a limited number of Truliant employees.  It cannot serve as a cut-through to Hanes Mall Boulevard.  The number of Truliant employees who can have cards to access that gate will be capped at 25% of their on-site work force, which is approximately equal to the number of Truliant employees who already use Burke Mill as part of their route to and from work.  The employee-only gated access will serve to get that traffic off Burke Mill faster.
--The city will install a new traffic signal at Burke Mill and Stonewood, to align with the new Truliant gated access when it is built.  Truliant will pay 50% of the costs of this and turn lanes at the intersection.  This signalized intersection will help residents of that neighborhood get on and off Burke Mill more safely during peak traffic periods.  This traffic signal will also be synchronized with the existed signals at London Lane and the Silas Creek Parkway ramp, to create gaps in Burke Mill rush hour traffic flow that will allow other nearby neighborhoods to get on and off more safely.
Other improvements of the intersection of London Lane and Burke Mill Road are already underway and to be completed this year, including dedicated left turning lanes on and off London Lane.  These are expected to reduce peak period backups and congestion at that intersection.  All of these intersection improvements are part of the recommendations from the Burke Mill Road traffic study initiated by the city council earlier this year.
My extended efforts to forge a consensus among nearby neighborhoods on this request were unsuccessful, and I was forced to make a recommendation to the council which was supported by some neighbors but opposed by others.  In making my decision on what to support, I relied on my best analysis of what will work to support the creation of hundreds of additional good local jobs, while improving the traffic conditions on Burke Mill Road and protecting neighborhoods from any adverse impacts.  I will work to see that all these committed traffic improvements are completed as promised.  I will also work to see that needed improvements at the other key Burke Mill intersections further west are implemented as well, as recommended by the rest of the Burke Mill Road traffic study.  There is no magic wand solution that will eliminate heavy peak period traffic on Burke Mill Road, but these roadway/intersection improvements will improve safety and traffic flow through this area.

That’s my report for October.  As always, you are welcome to contact me at danbesse@danbesse.org.  Thanks!