Roundup: City Delaying Greenway Fee for Road Races

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To deal with the increasing number of road races and the strain they are putting on city resources, Raleigh officials have agreed to an event cap, but will hold off on increased fees for the time being.

City Councilors Tuesday unanimously approved a new road race policy that will cap the number of events at 100, with 12 of those on the greenways.

A proposed $300 per-mile fee for races using city greenways was not approved so Councilors could consider the impact on the city budget as well as the nonprofit groups that organize most road races.

Runners jog through the Oakwood neighborhood in downtown Raleigh in February 2011. Photo by Karen Tam.

Karen Tam

Runners jog through the Oakwood neighborhood in downtown Raleigh in February 2011. Photo by Karen Tam.

Parks and Recreation staff members have said it costs the city $300 per mile to prepare the greenways for a race. Preparation includes mowing, landscaping, trash pickup, site inspection and repair. Park Planner Scott Payne said the race becomes a priority for parks and recreation workers, who interrupt their regular maintenance schedule to prepare for an event.

Assistant City Manager Daniel Howe said the city can choose to subsidize the cost completely, which could come to about $15,000 if all 12 allowable races occurred.

“The decision comes down to what you feel the appropriate level of subsidy is,” he said.

Councilor Thomas Crowder said after speaking with several nonprofits, he thought $300 per mile was too high. He suggested coordinating the parks maintenance schedule with the event and then charging a lower fee of $100 per mile for events with more than 500 participants. Events with fewer would be exempt.

Payne said it is very difficult to coordinate the maintenance schedule for a number of reasons, including unforeseen circumstances, such as a heavy rain that requires staff to prioritize cleanup of flood-prone greenways over others.

Councilor Randy Stagner said he understands that organizers want to keep the costs low, but, “those numbers are real,” he said.

The policy would go into effect in 2014. Councilors decided to pay the cost for the first year, then come back to have another discussion about any potential fees.

Read about additional changes.

Council Comes Down on Unlicensed Businesses
City Councilors may hire an outside firm to help manage and enforce its privilege license program.

Today, the Revenue Services Division is responsible for issuing privilege licenses to businesses that operate in Raleigh. The costs of these licenses vary depending on the business. The division is also responsible for finding unlicensed businesses.

Councilor Russ Stephenson said he felt unlicensed businesses fell into two groups: those that can afford the fee, but don’t pay it, and those that are struggling and may have difficulty paying.

Stephenson asked if there was a policy for dealing with hardship cases.

City Manager Russell Allen said the city doesn’t have a policy because all businesses are required to get a license, which is generally in expensive.

License fees range from $2.50 for an ice cream vendor to a $20,000 maximum for video gaming vendors. A typical fee is between $25 and $50.

The Council referred the contract to the Law and Public Safety Committee for more discussion.

Oberlin Cemetery Gets Landmark Designation
Councilors approved landmark designation for Oberlin Cemetery.

The small cemetery behind the InterAct building between Oberlin Road and Wade Avenue is one of Raleigh’s oldest black cemeteries and provided a resting place for Oberlin Village residents before and after emancipation.

The landmark designation won’t protect against future development, but supporters said it will help raise awareness and funding for future cleanup and archeological efforts.

Researches believe that the cemetery is full, but only about 100 headstones remain.

Loan Approved for Crabtree Jones Relocation
Councilors approved a $100,000 loan that will help Preservation North Carolina relocate the Crabtree Jones House to a nearby property on Hillmer Drive.

The funding will come from the Preservation Revolving Loan Fund and will be repaid in 36 months or when the property is sold, whichever comes first.

The relocation is necessary so that developers can build an apartment community on the property.

Read more about the Crabtree Jones House.

Concealed Weapons Nixed from Legislative Agenda
City Councilors were split as to whether they should include the issue of concealed weapons on the city’s greenway system on their 2013 legislative agenda.

City Attorney Thomas McCormick presented suggestions at Tuesday’s meeting.

In 2011, Councilors approved allowing concealed weapons on the city’s greenways to come in compliance with state law, but the actual law is unpopular with most Councilors.

Despite the continuing unpopularity of the law, the Council voted 5 to 3 Tuesday to remove seeking a local exemption to the state law, but could pursue it at a later date.

Currently there is a Republican supermajority in the House and the Senate and a Republican governor, making it a less-than-ideal time to ask for gun laws.

“Adding guns on our greenways doesn’t make them safer,” said Stagner, who voted against removing the item.

Other items on the list include:

•    A change that would allow the DMV to withhold renewal of car registrations until all parking tickets are paid.
•    Allow cities to annex the small areas within the city limits — doughnut holes — that are not officially part of the city.
•    Allow Hillsborough Street — a state-owned street — to have outdoor dining. State law now prohibits it.

The Council has not yet voted on the legislative agenda and could add more items after a meeting with the Public Works Department.

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