At Tuesday’s city council meeting, about a hundred residents from southeast Raleigh collected to support a proposition to improve their neighborhoods. Conditions in the area have been worsening due to the current economic crisis.
Brad Thompson, a former council member and mayor pro-tem, spoke on behalf of the citizens calling for the council to “commit to a set of actions” to reduce crime, unemployment, and foreclosures, as well as empower the cities youth to become citizen-minded through better education, gang prevention, and a more open dialogue about pressing issues such as AIDS.
Councilor James West motioned to keep the proposition on the council agenda, which passed unanimously. He asked for a time line and “report card” to see that the issues are addressed, and asked the council to asses the details of the request.
Thompson said conditions in southeast Raleigh are worsening is the present economic depression. “When the country gets a cold, the poor get the flu. We’re moving towards pneumonia,” Thompson said. He said the recession has caused “an explosion of violent crime” and “unacceptable unemployment rates,” and urged the council to keep in mind the area when budgeting.
Several southeast Raleigh citizen committees were represented, and Thompson said they were “prepared to partner” with the council to solve the issues.
The proposition also urges the council to push for stimulus funding that could be available to implement these programs. “The stimulus money represents an opportunity for community investments,” Thompson said, adding that the city needs to focus on all of its neighborhoods in order to succeed in its vision for the future and successfully carry out its comprehensive plan for 2030.
Thompson proposed “a downtown Wake Tech job training center” to tackle unemployment, saying that the city has plenty of people for the jobs being created here that just need to be trained. He urged the council to help stop substance abuse by targeting “advertising,” both legal and illegal. He also called for the city’s support for local-small businesses, notably those that are minority-run, saying that supporting these businesses create and sustain jobs in the area.
The council also voted today to budget about $10 million for Hillsborough Street renovations. The money will fund the roundabout planned for the Hillsborough-Morgan intersection.
Mayor Meeker justified the expense, saying that being “too careful [with spending] could make the recession longer and worse.” Councilor Phillip Isley argued that the money could better be spent on “other roads in abominable state” rather than the 2-mile stretch on Hillsborough. Councilor Thomas Crowder said the renovation would be an investment that will attract more business to the area and will be worth the spending, citing the renovation of Glenwood South.
The roundabouts are contracted to Hamlett and Associates who project a cost of $9,916,707.74. Raleigh will pay for the renovation with help from NC state, which pledged $50,000, and PSNC, which will cover the costs of some underground utilities.
The project has been on hold since 1999.
Get more news from live coverage of the council meeting at the Raleigh Public Record Twitter site.