Cedar Street / Bellemeade Area Report

Cedar Street Meeting,

I attended a meetings today about a neighborhood located close to downtown that is being called The Cedar Street Area. It stretches north from Friendly Ave to Battleground Ave. Bellemeade Street Runs down the center of the area from Eugene Street on the east to the train tracks on the west. This area is sometimes referred to as the Bellemeade District.

The area which has some houses that date to the 1800s has been in decline for several years and much of the property has been sorely neglected. Some of the area reminds me of the old fairy tale Sleeping Beauty. The vines and bushes grew up and covered the beautiful castle. Of course there are no beautiful castles in the area, but there are many period houses that should be cleaned up and should be protected. The sidewalks are overgrown and cracked, and some of the rental property in the area is notoriously sub-standard.

With the trend of moving closer to work and closer to the downtowns of our cities, this neighborhood is one of the keys to developing a nice transitional neighborhood that will act as a buffer between the business district and our wonderfully preserved neighborhoods surrounding downtown.

Our city government has stepped in and is holding meetings with residents and other stake holders in the area to make decisions about the future of this area. These meetings are open to anyone who cares to attend and put in his/her 2-cents worth.

At the first meeting, city employees took notes on a big chart. At this second meeting, the staff presented a list of goals for the neighborhood from the suggestions gleaned from the first meeting.

I was impressed. The city staff gave a short presentation and then asked everyone present their impression of the goals. The next step will be how to implement the goals in a way that will be acceptable to property owners, residents, surrounding neighborhoods, investors and other decision makers in the city. I suspect that this will be the hard part, but it can be done. There was time for lots of one-to-one conversation during 'refreshment time'. It was a good meeting.

There is another meeting tonight 6:30 to 8 at the Greensboro Womens Club House, 223 N. Edgeworth Street. The public is invited.

1. Stabilize, enhance and complement existing character and fabric of the neighborhood.
2. Encourage appropriate future development of a variety of uses in the neighborhood.
3. Create a pedestrian-friendly and resident-friendly environment.
4. Improve the perception and visibility of the area as a downtown neighborhood.

What do you think? Better yet, go to the meeting and tell the city staff what you think. What do you want the area to be in 5 or 10 years?

Four Hours of What?

This morning I sat through a Greensboro City Council Briefing Session that lasted almost 4 hours. The Council did make a few decisions, but most of the meeting was wasted with presentations that didn't include much information that the council members did not know already.

The council members discussed appointing alternates to the boards and commissions because there are so many absences at the meetings. They decided that the only board that needs alternate members is the Board of Adjustments. Because the findings made by the Board of Adjustments are final unless there is a legal appeal within 30 days of the ruling, the council felt that there should always be enough members present to make a ruling. The alternate members will be asked to attend every meeting, but will only be able to vote when replacing an absent member.

Representatives from Action Greensboro and Downtown Greensboro Inc. gave their usual "We're doing a wonderful job" reports and estimates of how much the Center City Park will cost. DGI will get some money because of the extra tax the City Council passed last year on property owners in the Central Business District. Because the taxing authority (in this case, I guess it is DGI) gets a percentage of the taxes collected in their area from Guilford County Sales Tax revenue. I think that Ray Gibbs said that the extra money, which will be around $100,000, will be used for park maintenance. I think the city council agreed to spend $200,000 toward park maintenance. At last month's briefing, I thought the city agreed to pay up to $450,000 for park maintenance. Of course, nobody knows what the cost of the park will be and Action Greensboro asked for a five year trial period to figure out what will happen.

Adam Fischer from GDOT started to give an impressive presentation about why the city is adding those annoying medians on so many streets. The council members would have no part of that. They interupted so many times during the presentation that I'm not sure the presentation was ever completed. A lively discussion ended with GDOT winning, as usual, and very little accomplished.

After that, it was time for a presentation about proposed changes to the city's noise ordinance. By that time, several of the members had left and those who were still there were looking at their watches. There seemed to be lots of concern about how street noise could hurt the outside eating and drinking businesses on Elm Street. The biggest problem is that nobody knows how loud is too loud, and most don't understand noise/decibels?
The presentation was confusing and it was decided to bring it up later after the council had time to test noise by using a decibel meter. We were told that these meters cost around $3,000 each and that the city will probably purchase 5 as soon as possible and add more until every officer has one.

Smart Commuters !

Over 2,000 residents in the Triangle area have promised to try to get to work one day between August 15 and September 30 without driving their cars.
Each person who signs up at www.smartcommute.org is entered in a drawing for prizes.
What a great idea. Maybe we should try it here.
What do you think?

Civics 103

Join Us
6 to 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 8, 13, 22, 27, Oct. 11, 2005
Presented by The League of Women Voters
of the Piedmont Triad
Greensboro Childrens Museum
220 N. Church Street


A Free Program

Sponsored by
The League of
Women Voters of the Piedmont Triad
Greensboro Public Library
YWCA of Greensboro
Court Watch of NC
One Step Further
Supported in part by
The Program on Law & Society of the Open Society Institute, through the NC League of Women Voters Citizen Ed. Fund and with the cooperation and aid of our speakers.
Speakers include:
David Churchill, Jeff Thigpen,
Judge Catherine Eagles,
Betty Brown, Lynne Schiftan,
Sheriff B.J.Barnes,
Asst. Police Chief Tim Bellamy,
Judge Tom Ross, Amie Haith,
Judge Lawrence McSwain,
D.A. Stuart Albright,
Mayor ProTem Yvonne Johnson

1st Session
Thurs., Sept. 8, 2005
Guest Experts:
District & Superior Courts,
Office of District Attorney, Office of Public Defender,
Register of Deeds
Moderator: LWVPT (Ellen Olson)

2nd Session
Tues., Sept. 13, 2005
Guest Experts:
Greensboro Police Dept.
Guilford County Sheriff Dept.
Juvenile Court Counselor
School Resource Officer
Guilford County Magistrate
Dept. of Social Services
Guilford County Attorney
Moderator: Court Watch of NC

3nd Session
Thurs.,Sept. 22, 2005
Guest Experts:
Office of District Attorney
Guilford Cty. Probation Office
Malachi House, Delancy Street
Sentencing Services,
Daily Reporting Center
Welfare Reform Project
Moderator: Yvonne Johnson (One Step Further)

4th Session
Tues., Sept. 27, 2005
Participants are asked to attend at least one District or Superior Court Session
(as a group or individually) prior to this 4th program.
Guest Experts:
Clerk of Superior Courts, Judge of District Court
Judge of Superior Court, Magistrate Office,
Guilford Cty. Dist. Attorney, Guilford Cty. Public Defender
Moderator: Carolyn Flowers (YWCA)

5th Session
Tues., Oct. 11, 2005
Guest Experts:
Judge Tom Ross, Sheriff B.J. Barnes,
Clerk of Superior Court
Moderator: David Olson (LWVPT)
5 Weekly Programs - 6:00pm to 7:30pm
Greensboro Childrens Museum
220 N. Church Street
Childcare available free (if requested in advance) for 2 to 10-year olds
in a room provided by The Childrens Museum.
For Information or to Register (336) 274-0202

www.greensboro.com/lwv *

How Does the Court System Work?

Like many of you, I know very little about the actual workings of the court system. I have served on several juries (both criminal cases and civil cases) but have never been personally involved in a court case.

I have worked on a committee for several months that is presenting a 5-week, 5-session program to help people like me learn more about how the court system works. I have learned a lot while working on this committee and I hope to learn more during the sessions.

In our lifetimes there are many occasions that could result in having to deal with the Guilford County Court System. This series of informational sessions will allow us to listen to short presentations by the people who participate in the courts on a daily basis. At the end of each session, there will be at least a 30 minute questions and answer session.

I invite you to attend these sessions. I think that they will be a very good use of your valuable time.

Wake Up and Smell the Garbage!

Greensboro should start as soon as possible to develop a long-term solution to trash disposal.

We should not wait to see what someone else is going to do about the trash disposal problems in our area. The longer we wait, the less control we will have over the disposal method, the price and the availability of a facility location.

Hauling our household waste to a re-packaging facility and then paying to have it hauled off to who-knows-where is not a good solution.

In addition to the household trash problem, the construction and demolition waste in our landfill could be reduced by reuse, recycling and resource recovery.

We need a regional waste-to-energy facility. We need it as soon as possible. There are many clean, cost effective facilities in operation today and there is a seemingly unending source of fuel.

What do you think?

Comments Welcome!

Hello Blog Readers,
I started this blog because I want a conversation with the Greensboro Community. Please feel free to drop by anytime and leave your comments about any subject that concerns Greensboro. I welcome questions about my candidacy for city council. I will work hard FOR the CITIZENS of Greensboro.
Thank you for visiting my place. Have a nice day.

News-Record Makes Big Mistake!

In today's News & Record editorial about the Greensboro City Council race, the writer stated that Robbie Perkins chose not to seek re-election in District 3. That statement was correct. However, the writer(s) then mentioned the candidates for that district.

All of the candidates mentioned as running in District 3 are actually running for the District 4 Seat vacated by Florence Gatten. Ms Gatten, who says that she promised not to run more than twice in District 4, has filed to run at-large.

I wonder how many people helped write this column; because, in another paragraph Tom Phillips is mentioned as an unopposed candidate in District 3. This is a correct statement. Mr. Phillips is currently serving on the council in an at-large capacity and is running unopposed in District 3 where Robbie Perkins will not seek re-election.

The editorial department at the News-Record might need to consult someone to check facts about the status of the Greensboro City Election.

What, Exactly, is a Billboard?

Don Vaughan posted a question on his blog about the appropriateness of some really ugly real estate signs on Bryan Boulevard.

I wasted some time looking on the Greensboro City Website trying to find something about the scenic corridor rules. I didn't find rules. But, if my memory serves me correctly, I think that there is an exemption for real estate signs. And I don't think that the size or appearance of them is addressed.

I seem to remember that when Mayor Holliday was campaigning against such restrictive billboard limits on some roads, he showed real estate signs that would not be restricted in the proposed ordinance.

I guess that the new stadium scoreboard sign is not a billboard and the new plastic screen on Washington and Elm streets is not a billboard because new billboards are not permitted in the Central Business District.

We really have some strange sign laws here in Greensboro.

What, exactly is the definition of a billboard in Greensboro?

It certainly doesn't mean a big ugly sign. Many "billboards" display quite attractive advertisements and community announcements.


More Trash Stories

Johnson (oops, I mean Johnston) County is having its own trash problems. Another report in the Raleigh News and Observer is about the problem of unauthorized dumping.

Some counties are addressing the growing problem of what to do with garbage, but Greensboro and Guilford County are operating in a dream world. Apparently hoping that if we ship our trash somethere else, it will just disappear and not be a problem any more.

I guess if we spend thousands of dollars to put new street lights around a park in downtown, we won't have to think about garbage. We will all be able to sit in the park all day and night and play with our laptop computers. After all, there is free wireless access.

I wonder how many of the homeless people who frequent local parks have laptop computers. Maybe the next question will be "Hey man, may I use your i-book. I just need to make reservations to get to my new job in . . . . . ."

And what will happen to the empty coffee containers we throw into the beautiful new trash cans? I guess they will be someone else's problem.

Garbage Dump or Shopping Center?

Household trash is a problem everywhere.

The Raleigh News and Observer
reports that Wake County municipal managers will soon decide whether to recommend building a new landfill in Holly Springs or ship trash somewhere else.

If the group decides in favor of the landfill, the City of Raleigh and 11 other towns will vote on it. If county commissioners decide to build the landfill, it would open by 2007.

Solve 2 Problems With One Good Idea

Greensboro should be leading the way for developing a long-term, regional solution to household trash disposal. Hauling our household waste to a re-packaging facility and then paying to have it hauled away and become someone else's problem is not a good long-term solution. It is not even a good temporary solution.

We can reduce the volume of waste going into landfills by improved Recycling, Resue, and Resource Recovery and we should build a Waste to Energy program as soon as possible.

I have been gathering information for over five years about waste to energy programs. There are several options for plants that meet good environmental standards. Many facilities are more cost effective than conventional waste disposal methods in common use today.

I have approached city leaders several times and the negative thinking on this subject is unbelievable. Several years ago there was some talk. But even the talk was abandoned as soon as it was decided to stop receiving household trash at the White Street Landfill.

I have located a company that will provide the city with a free cost-analysis on ways to conserve energy, produce energy and use environmentally friendly energy sources.

Other cities, both small and large, are looking at better energy sources and better ways of disposing of trash. Greensboro should be planning for the future, Starting NOW ! !