The City Council approved our new urban area sidewalk plan this month.
Sidewalk and Pedestrian Facilities Plan approved: After two years of hard work by staff and good input from citizens, the City Council approved the new Winston-Salem Urban Area Sidewalk and Pedestrian Facilities Plan on November 5. The plan describes when facilities such as sidewalks, crosswalks, and signals are to be installed, and makes recommendations for education and safety enforcement, "Safe Routes to School", and funding sources. Among the items included in the plan is identification of streets where any new nonresidential or multifamily development will automatically be required to add sidewalks where they don't now exist. As this new plan is implemented, it should provide a real boost to public safety, health, and quality of life by making walking safer along many streets.
Homeless shelter overflow: The city is wrestling with an unanticipated problem in overflow of shelters for the homeless on cold nights. The gap in adequate bed space is a result of construction work underway at one of the major shelters in the city, and unexpected problems in having a planned overflow shelter open in time. (The people at First Baptist Church, which was planning to have an overflow facility ready by November, did not know that state fire codes would require a fire-safety sprinkler system to be installed, even for temporary shelter use. The city asked that the state give them a temporary waiver on the requirement, but the requeest was refused.) The city and several concerned private institutions are working on solutions to the problem.
Magnolia sidewalk: Speaking of sidewalks, the long-awaited Magnolia Street sidewalk extension was finally started just at the end of November. This sidewalk section will fill an important three-block gap to provide a large part of the Ardmore neighborhood with an unbroken safe walking connection to Miller Park and Moore School. It should be finished in early December.
National League of Cities conference: I helped to represent Winston-Salem and North Carolina at the annual National League of Cities (NLC) Conference in November, held this year in New Orleans.
Among other matters, I raised the issue of severe drought to the NLC Energy, Environment, and Natural Resources Policy & Advocacy Committee, on which I serve as a North Carolina representative. The committee agreed to make this one of its important study issues for 2008. I also took part in the Central Cities Council's Steering Committee meeting, where we agreed to make sustainability, water resources, and transportation funding our priority issues for the coming year.
In addition to these policy committee meetings, I took part in workshops on strengthening housing opportunities, improving connections between urban transportation systems and land use planning, and new techniques for crime prevention and investigation.
Talk of the Town held November 20: The 2007 Southwest Ward "Talk of the Town" meeting was hosted by Mayor Allen Joines and myself on November 20. As usual, the meeting proved to be a good chance for us hear from Southwest Ward neighbors about the issues on their minds for the coming year. Among the topics addressed were crime concerns, traffic safety issues, energy efficiency, sidewalks, economic development, and financial issues. Thanks to everyone for coming out, and to Trinity Presbyterian Church for hosting the meeting.