Welcome to the INDY's first Raleigh City Council liveblog of fall! | News

Welcome to the INDY's first Raleigh City Council liveblog of fall!


It's been a while since we've all gathered in City Council chambers! Since then, we've been drinking pumpkin beers not on sidewalks, wondering what happened to the sun for three weeks and participating in Democracy.

Yep, we just  had an election, and now we're back with a lame duck Council and three Council members who only have three months left to serve. But a lot can happen in three months. What will become of the outdoor drinking ordinance? Councilors will have to decide soon. And will they vote on the UDO before the new Council members take their seats? We gently urge them not to.

1:04: Mayor Nancy has called the meeting to order! Maiorano is absent and excused, MAB is on the way. (Was she up late celebrating her re-election?) 

1:07: So on the agenda—we have a couple rezoning cases, the Pullen Arts Center and Pullen Park improvements, Capital Boulevard bridge replacements...looks like the real fun begins tonight with a loooong evening session. Make sure you check back with us for that. 

1:10: Hm, Raleigh has a sister city in Germany, and some students are here visiting Broughton. I didn't catch the city though... A German student is telling the Mayor about the exchange program. 

1:13: And now her teacher—an English teacher—is thanking the Mayor for having all the students  to "broaden their horizons" and "promoting mutual understanding and peace through the exchange."  Now the German students—around 20 of them— are leaving.

1:14: Ruffin Hall is praising the city for its good work at this weekend's Bluegrass Festival. "It was by all accounts a tremendous success despite the rain and the decision to relocate everything indoors at the last moment," Mayor Nancy says. She's introducing the Raleigh Bluegrass Festival production staff. Good work Raleigh!

1:18: Mayor Nancy still thanking folks—a lot of ppl involved, clearly. 

1:19: Ok, next up we have Carly Jones from the African American Cultural Festival. Did you guys go to the African American Cultural festival? It was fun. Sixth annual one, but the idea for it came in 2009. "We're slowly getting to the point that people from all over the region set their calendars to be her for the festival," says the festival chair. Councilman Weeks is an ex-oficio member of the board; the chair calls him a "true journeyman and champion for the festival."

1:24: Carly's talking about the highlights of the festival. It went from City Plaza all the way to Hargett Street. There was a family village, arts and crafts, NC Black Storytellers Association was there. "It was a beautiful sight to see, all families, from all demographics from all income backgrounds," Carly said. Just like how downtown should be. Arrested Development was there, and local musicians. 

1:27: Weeks tells them to keep up the good work and he's enjoyed being a liaison and will keep working with them. On to the consent! The puled a bunch of condemnation requests and approved.

1:28: Report from the Planning Commission; 3 rezoning requests, two text changes. They were scheduled for public hearing.

1:30: Louisburg Road rezoning is approved. Manager's report. Ah, we'll be having a presentation on the Neighborwoods Program. It promotes improved air quality, reduced stormwater runoff and lower energy costs. I think we can all get behind that.

1:32: Trees do great things: they are providing the city more than $2 million in benefits. Damn, trees! That is impressive. Volunteers are also impressive: they planted 592 trees in 22 hours, benefits of $12 grand.

1:33: In Chavis Park, 160 tress planted by a bunch of 5th graders, also some planting on Upper and Lower Walnut Creek greenway. Good jojb NeighborWoods!

1:34: Now an update on the Capital Boulevard bridge replacements. NCDOT is replacing some bridges on Peace St. and Wade Ave. (the ones the trucks keep getting caught in?) It will result in significant changes on this portion of Capital. We will have a landscapable median down the center off Capital, Eric Lamb says.

1:35: the Council endorsed an enhanced Peace St interchange design. 2013 transportation bond reserved $10 million for participation in DOT projects. This will cost $12-13 million. Right of way acquisition costs are still unclear but the city will have to cover those. 

1:37: We have obtained $6.6 million through CAMPO in grant funding. City's holdings along west side of Capital between Peace all the way to Wade will be impacted. And NC DOT will compensate for that. And city could lease part of Peace to DOT.

1:38: Hmmmm, construction impacts. "This is a large omelet," Eric says. Some eggs will be breaking. DOT will close a northbound lane on Capital for 2 years. That will definitely suck. And there will be other persistent and temporary traffic impacts. Some limited to nights and weekends, Fairview road ramps will be closed; there will be detours though. Basically don't use Capital for this two year period. Yes, this is a massive, massive project.

1:41: NC DOT has developed a good track record for installing "betterments-" bridge replacements and enhancements, bridges as public art— Art Deco type design is preferable, Eric says. Bc other bridges in the area have Art Deco elements. He's showing a pic: it looks pretty cool, I have to say. Hey MAB is here!

1:42: There will be motifs in the bridges that will resemble columns in City Plaza...something about Jim Belucci? I'll have to look into that. The bridge could be backlit—snazzy. Full columns and lights are $1.25 million for Wade and $1.16 million for Peace. Cheaper without lights obvs.

1:44: The option for all enhancements would be $2.4 million plus. We could put all the investment in Peace, at $1.16 million. No columns, both bridges enhanced is $1.61 million. And enhance both without lights or columns is $1.21. mill.

1:45: Crowder asking if this will take money from the I-440 Beltline projects. It does not, but we may not want to use DOT money on this one project.

1:46: Gaylord calls the bridges significant gateways to the city and we need to make them look like we want to have people coming through our front door. "It's the Gateway to OUr City!!" Remember, all options will be offset by $6 million grant, and $10 million from NC DOT. (But we don't want to put it all into this one project).

1:48: Mayor Nancy asks if Public Art Design Board feels both bridges needed to be treated the same? They didn't discuss that yet. Russ is prioritizing his priorities for the bridges. He's not sure about the columns. neither is Mayor Nancy. But she agrees about the gateway.

1:49: Next steps is negotiating the municipal agreement with DOT. That will take a couple months. Construction will begin at Wade in summer of 2016. 

1:50: Math is hard. We don't know how much the Beltline projects are going to cost yet too. But we'll have to get additional funds for those anyway. 

1:52: Stephenson doesn't wanna go with the Deco. "The screen and lighting is nice, but what's being called Deco style here is grandiose," he says.  He prefers a classical treatment. Can we scale the enhancement design back so it's more streamlined? Mayor Nancy's on board.

1:53: That's it for the manager's report, but a lot of stuff is coming up soon, Ruffin warns. 

1:52: Amy Simes from Parks and Greenway advisory board. They reviewed Pullen Arts Center and N. Pullen park improvement plan and River Bend master plan development. 

1:54: They recommend the improvements to Pullen and River Bend. Re. Pullen: There was a master plan approved in 2002. The southern portion was built in 2009. Parks bond money dedicates $6 million to North Pullen and the Arts Center. No work to theater in the park. Clearscapes is working on the design, coming March 2016. Stephenson is pointing out a great place for a dog park; he's putting that forward as an idea. There will be more interest in having an urban dog park, he says, with growth. He's right!

1:58: And now River Bend Park (formerly Perry Creek). 25 acre parcel, purchased in 2012. New neighborhood park in NE Raleigh- it's being built now, with $2 million form the parks bond. Still in the master planning stage. 

2:01: The designer is speaking. The boundary of the park is Neuse River and Neuse River Greenway trail.  There are neighboring parks and neighboring neighborhoods. A giant mixed use development is being built nearby, a middle school too and Wake Tech's northern campus is already there. 

2:03: There's been a bunch of community outreach and engagement, and with the CACs. Everyone wants the park to be a park: gathering, play areas, safe, connects to greenway, complements community etc. Reccos for a citizen planning committee. Public meetings coming up. Fall 2016 for master plan to be presented. 

2:06: Mayor Nancy wants to know what a functional play park is—it is a playground. And are we working with the school system/duplicating the elementary school play area? They will look at that because it's still early in the process. And yes, they have been working with WCPSS.  

2:09: Mayor Nancy is confused about what this piece of property is going to be...because a park is never just a park in Raleigh. "There is no one in this development yet, but if the park is for the development...it feels like we are getting ahead of ourselves. We can't engage anyone, don't know what WCPSS is doing..."

2:10: It's ok they are having meetings already. The plan is coming in a year. Neighborhood branding has already started. Developer is paying for a portion of the master plan. Developer, school are working together. The product will pre-empt the community, but like in a good way. 

2:12: Basically Mayor Nancy has a problem with diagram. It is misleading, the park folks say. Because no one has any idea what's actually going to happen on that property yet. 

2:17: The Council approved the Citizen Planning Committee.

2:18: Stormwater has a 2017 work plan, Council approved it.

2:21: Council received info from Budget and Economic Development committee; other committees have no report except Public Works. 

2:24: Weeks notes that Southeast Raleigh residents are upset that bus routes get cut out during events, needs to be looked at. He also says "we need to treat our fellow man and fellow woman on the City Council in the way they would like to be treated. And that's my comment on that." Cryptic. 

2:26: Mayor McFarlane says Mayor Meeker was inducted into Raleigh Hall of Fame.

2:27: Bonner says the Appearance Commission wants to take a look at the Raleigh flag because it is just the seal, is kinda boring.

2:28: MAB says that needs to be coordinated with Communications because we need consistent imagery. Bonner says Appearance Commission would want to included Communication staff anyway. Ok, the problem is we can't the see the seal from a distance. And it's outdated.

2:28: Odom says Baldwin has a good point. Crowder says the broader point is if we are making a change subject to branding, we need to have a broad look at it because we'd be changing lots of things. 

2:30: But, Bonner syas, the flag is not used that often and it's just a flag. Crowder: So they think it's sad and they want to update it? Bonner: Yes, very sad. Send to Appearance Commission, talk to staff and come back with a proposal for new design. Stephenson says let's get a report back from the communications director before launching into re-design and flag. MAB notes that Stephenson and she agree on that.

2:31: Ruffin says people have strong feelings about symbols (right!)  John Odom is draping the flag proudly. MAB is taking a photo of John Odom. "You don't like the reindeer coat of arms? Do you change a coat of arms?," Odom says.  

2:33: The attorney points out that it is actually SIr Walter Raleigh's coat of arms, and that it is a roe buck. Bonner asks for a quick report from communications.

2:34: Crowder comment: "I love the flag."

See you tonight!

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