July 2015 Highlights

Public safety, utilities, and streets issues all received major attention during July.


National Night Out:    The annual evening event celebrating the partnership of police departments and neighborhood groups in promoting community safety will be held this Tuesday, August 4, in Winston-Salem and around the nation.  Neighborhood events in the Southwest Ward include Healy Towers, Seasons Chase, Stonekirk-Bridgeport, S. Sunset, Sandersted, and Burlwood Drive.  For more information, see http://www.cityofws.org/departments/police/crime-prevention/neighborhood-watch/national-night-out-registration 


Ardmore community safety meeting:     A record turnout of more than 160 Ardmore neighbors filled the Miller Park Rec Center gym on July 29 for a meeting on community safety issues and concerns.  Representatives of the Winston-Salem Police Department answered questions and presented information on crime trends affecting the neighborhood and the city, responses from police patrols, investigations and arrests, crime prevention tips, and the value and formation of neighborhood watch groups.  More than 150 attendees signed up to help form neighborhood watches.  A number of participants also expressed plans to reactivate the Ardmore Neighborhood Association.  Among the information points made by police were the following:
--Ardmore is a safe neighborhood, and its crime rates are not high compared to the city as a whole.
--Year-to-date numbers for both home and auto break-ins in Ardmore are almost identical for 2015 and 2014.  Totals for house break-ins in any given month tend to vary from single digits to the high teens.  Seasonal spikes occur regularly during the summer months and the winter holiday season.

--Residents can get involved in helping to reduce and prevent crime using some common-sense approaches.

   All of the following points are relevant to all Winston-Salem neighborhoods:
--Most auto break-ins occur in unlocked cars.  Always lock your car.  Valuables should never be left visible inside an unattended car.
--Most house break-ins occur during the day when occupants are away.  Never leave a home unlocked, even for a short period.  Don’t leave valuables in the yard or on the porch.
--Residents are urged to call the police whenever they observe suspicious behavior in their neighborhood by someone they don’t recognize.  The police non-emergency contact number is 773-7700. 
--The greatest value of neighborhood crime watch groups is the ability of neighbors to recognize cars and individuals who don’t belong in a location, and report them to police to check out.  Unless alerted by neighbors, police are unlikely to know who does or does not live at a specific home.
--Additional crime prevention information and contacts can be found here:  http://www.cityofws.org/departments/police/crime-prevention   


Residents who could not attend the meeting and who want to participate in forming a neighborhood crime watch group should contact WSPD Cpl. Scott Boak at sboak@wspd.org.   Ardmore residents who want to assist in reactivating the Ardmore Neighborhood Association can contact me at danbesse@danbesse.org, and I will put you in touch with leaders of that effort.


Any neighborhood in the Southwest Ward which has not been meeting regularly and which wants to put together a community safety issues meeting is welcome to contact me for assistance in that effort.  I can also help active neighborhood groups in arranging speakers and presentations on community safety for your meetings.


Street resurfacing:     Several streets in the Southwest Ward are now being resurfaced (or have just been completed) using part of the streets bond funding approved by voters last year.  They include Griffith Road, Burke Mill Road, Somerset Drive, Atwood Road, Atwood Court, Springhaven Drive, Birchway Lane, Stonekirk Court, Beckwood Drive, Huntington Woods Drive, Hunters Forest Drive, and Lockwood Drive.  Last year’s voter-approved bonds included a total of $15 million for street resurfacing.  Approximately one-eighth of those funds is allocated to each of the city’s eight geographic wards.  Within each ward, city Transportation staff recommend the top priority street segments based on surface condition scores.  (Consideration is also given to cost efficiency in addressing multiple connected streets in need of work at the same time.)  We can’t address all streets at once, but this infusion of funding will help reduce the backlog of resurfacing needs.


Little Creek Greenway ribbon-cutting:       Neighbors from both sides of Little Creek joined me and other city officials and greenway enthusiasts for the official ribbon-cutting event for the new Little Creek Greenway on July 21.  Fairly short at less than a mile’s length, this phase one of the greenway still provides a great green walking path and extraordinary connectivity value.  Neighborhoods on the Atwood side gain direct safe pedestrian/biking connection to Little Creek Park and Recreation Center for the first time.  Neighbors on both the Atwood and Salem Woods side gain cross-connection to friends in each other’s neighborhood, plus connection to the pedestrian-friendly shopping/dining area (Shoppes at Little Creek) on Hanes Mall Boulevard.  The planned phase two of this greenway will add further length down to Somerset Drive.


Ardmore utilities project:     The next phase of the multi-year Ardmore area utilities renovation project is expected to get underway shortly after Labor Day.  The work replacing water and sewer lines which are up to a century old in this area will take place over the following 15 months in the sub-basin area roughly bounded by Westover Drive, Miller Street, Hawthorne Road, Hoyt Street, and Magnolia Street.  A map of the affected area is posted here:  http://www.cityofws.org/Portals/0/pdf/utilities/southwest%20flyer_7-15jt%20Newestcopy.pdf    A neighborhood meeting was held July 16 to go over plans and answer residents’ questions.  Residents will receive notice of work starting on their block at least the week before.  Service interruptions will be brief and noticed at least 48 hours in advance (except for emergencies).  Detours will be posted.  Residents can direct other questions about the work to city civil engineer Michael Stover at michaelws@cityofws.org or 336-747-6840. 


LED streetlighting:     Winston-Salem is joining a national movement toward the use of increasingly efficient LED lighting for streetlights.  As the old mercury vapor streetlights wear out, they are now being replaced by LED (light-emitting diode) lights, which provide better lighting at half the energy use of the old lights.  Because of the more compact size of LEDs, it is also easier to direct the light down where needed, instead of up.  Previously, mercury vapor streetlights were being replaced with yellowish high-pressure sodium lights.  The new LED streetlights are closer to natural light in color.  LED lights also will be the default choice for new streets, lighting upgrades, and streetlight additions.  (We previously shifted from incandescent to LED lighting in traffic signals, for the energy-use and long-term cost efficiencies there.)


Skateboard park:     After years of receiving requests for a permanent skateboard park in Winston-Salem, the city council in July approved a contract for construction of the facility at the Winston-Salem fairgrounds.  The park should be open this fall, hopefully in October.


Voting rights march, rally goes smoothly:     Winston-Salem received highly positive reviews this month for the trouble-free handling of the large and peaceful voting rights march and rally here on July 13.  Several thousand participants came from across the state and from other states to participate in this event held in conjunction with the start of a major voting rights trial held in Federal District Court in Winston-Salem this month.  Rally sponsors sent a letter of appreciation to city police, public works, sanitation, transportation, emergency services and other staff for their good work on behalf of our city as host of an event which drew major national news attention.


National Black Theatre Festival:     The biennial National Black Theatre Festival once again comes to Winston-Salem next week.  Take advantage of Winston-Salem’s leading role on the international stage to see unique top-quality historic, dramatic, and musical performances here August 4-8.  Full schedule and ticket information can be found at www.NBTF.org


Winston-Salem’s Architectural Heritage:     This new book on the record of how Winston-Salem grew describes both historically significant structures and the development history of 110 of our community’s neighborhoods.  It was commissioned by our local Historic Resources Commission.  The author, Heather Fearnbach, is making a series of presentations in each of the city’s wards on the book’s coverage of structures and neighborhoods in those areas.  The presentation for the Southwest Ward will be Tuesday, August 18, at 6 p.m. at Miller Park Recreation Center. 


Citizen Fire Academy accepting applications:     The Winston-Salem Fire Department will hold a Citizen Fire Academy for interested Winston-Salem residents age 18 and older on eight Monday evenings (6 to 8 p.m.), August 10—September 28.  Participants will learn about fire department operations and receive hands-on experience in fire safety and other topics, including a ride-along opportunity on emergency calls.  Class size is limited and advance application is required by August 5.  Participants must commit to attending all eight class meetings.  Online applications are available at www.CityofWSFire.org,  or more information is available via phone at 336-773-7965 or email at sabrinas@cityofwsfire.org


That’s my report for July.  As always, you are welcome to email me at danbesse@danbesse.org with comments or questions.  Thanks!