Meeker focused on the city’s sustainability initiatives.
“Our real challenge right now is to take some of these pilot projects such as LED street lights and make them everyday applications,” Meeker said.
The City of Raleigh has 40 LED street lights. These bulbs can last 15 years compared to the standard bulb, which sheds light for only two years. Meeker said these subtle and inexpensive changes have saved the city more than $200,000 a year in electricity costs.
Meeker also hopes to expand the city’s electric car plug-in station system, increasing the number of charging locations from three to 30. The new stations are expected to be installed by July, when the city hosts the Electric Power Research Institute’s 2011 Plug-In Conference.
Meeker vouched for a Transportation Bond potentially facing voters later this year, pointing out benefits such as more bike lanes and greenways. Meeker said the $25-to-$35 million bond, which the council will discuss in April, would enable Raleigh residents to live closer to work, shopping and transit.
Included in the bond issue is the elimination of sidewalk assessments for homeowners. The sidewalk assessment policy is widely unpopular among many city residents, and Meeker said eliminating the policy would promote foot and bike traffic throughout the city.
“One thing that you don’t want to be at is a sidewalk assessment hearing where the city council is trying to explain to somebody why the sidewalk you’re either repairing or putting in front of your house should be paid for by them,” Meeker said.
The City Council will discuss the policy and the bond amounts in its work session next month.
Meeker moved from sustainability to sustainable growth, highlighting construction of apartment buildings as the answer to failing condo sales downtown. The Quorum Center will auction 14 of its units March 20 — not the first such “dump” of condo units.
Rental properties are critical in sustaining Raleigh’s downtown growth, Meeker said.
“The rental market is stronger than it has ever been downtown. There are actually five different projects in various stages of being built,” he said.
Meeker also thanked the community for coming together to pull off the 2011 NHL All Star Game, which brought a lot of attention and revenue to the city. The event’s success means Raleigh can compete to host large-scale events.
“Events like that don’t just happen,” he said.
Such events and plans for sustainability will build Raleigh’s future, said Meeker, who believes Raleigh can pull forward despite the nation’s economic challenges.
“Raleigh is well positioned to leave this recession behind,” he said. “Let’s put it behind us. Let’s get this town rolling.”