City enlists top brass to tout proposed bond referendum
(pictured above: Residents survey bond information at the meeting.)
Residents of the Northeast Ward got an up-close look on April 16 at what a proposed bond referendum would yield.
Mayor Pro Tempore Vivian Burke, who represents the ward, opened the meeting at the Carl Russell Recreation Center, instructing residents to visit the displays and city officials stationed around the gymnasium to learn more about what the proposed $175 million bond would pay for.
“These are not really wants, these are needs,” Police Chief Barry Rountree said about what his department would reap from the bond.
Among the Police Department proposals contingent upon a bond are the creation of satellite police stations in communities that the officers patrol. The satellites, which Rountree says residents strongly favor, would be located at University Parkway and North Point Boulevard, Hanes Mall Boulevard and Jonestown Road and in the Lucia Building on Waughtown Street.
Bond funds would also be used to make repairs at the aging Public Safety Center and complete phase two of renovations at the Beaty Public Safety Training and Support Center to add classrooms, a forensic lab and evidence storage facilities.
The Fire Department would also use bond funds to update outdated facilities, including fire stations on Ogburn Avenue, Arbor Road and one near Wake Forest University, said Fire Chief Antony Farmer, who said the upgrades are crucial.
Sidewalk repair and construction, pedestrian enhancements to Business 40 bridges and new greenways like the one connecting the Waughtown area to the Peachtree and Salem Creek greenways are proposed as well, according to City Transportation Department Director Toneq’ McCullough.
Bond funds would greatly increase the budget for road resurfacing, helping to make quicker improvements to weather-battered streets, she added.
Bond money would also push forward the long-proposed transformation of the former Union Station off of Martin Luther King Jr. Drive into a multimodal transportation hub that would operate in conjunction with the downtown Clark Campbell Transportation Center.
“There will be amenities there for the bus riders, potentially things like places to shop or eat,” McCullough said about the proposed transportation center.
Virtually every city department would receive an infusion of funds for projects if the bond becomes reality. Community and Business Development Director Ritchie Brooks said more funds would be available for new home construction, home renovations and a city loan program that helps businesses make aesthetic improvements.
Recreation facilities like pools, parks and lakes would see improvements, and two brand new parks – a rock quarry off Reynolds Park Road and Jamison Park near Meadowlark Drive – would be constructed, Recreation and Parks Director Tim Grant said.
In addition to asking questions and giving feedback to city officials and Burke – who, along with other members of the City Council, will decide in August whether or not to place the bond on the ballot – those who attended were asked to fill out and leave comment cards. If a bond referendum makes it to the ballot and voters approve it, property owners could see their tax rate increase by up to 2.5 cents in July 2015.
Dori Colly spent some time inquiring about the proposed recreation improvements. Her seven-year-old son has special needs; she thinks the proposed splash park at Winston Lake and facilities at the proposed quarry park would be ideal for him.
Harold Holmes, a retired Wake Forest University dean of Student Services, said he believes the improvements would move the city in the right direction.
“A lot of it is past my time to really use it … but I’ve got kids and grandkids here,” he said of the improvements. “We care about them and we want to keep them in this community. We lose so much of our college educated kids to other areas, it would be nice to have them feel like there’s enough, both employment and quality of life-wise, to not … leave and set up shop somewhere else.”
For more information, including a full schedule of upcoming community bond meetings, go to http://www.cityofws.org/2014bonds/ .