Citing concerns with events taking over some neighborhoods, Raleigh City Council members asked city staff to look into imposing caps on the number of events in certain parts of the city.
The request came during Tuesday’s City Council work session when event management staff gave Councilors an update on the event management office that will be open for business on July 1. The office will be responsible for approving applications and collecting fees for all events in the city from road races to street fairs.
While all city events have grown, road races have gotten the most criticism because they shut down multiple streets on the weekends. They are often located downtown, leading the same neighborhoods to be impacted over and over again.
After numerous complaints, the city amended its policy so that only 100 road races can be scheduled each year. Races that have a history with the city were grandfathered into the policy, but that will end in 2016.
The 100-race cap will still be in place, but some Councilors, particularly Thomas Crowder and Russ Stephenson, expressed a desire to have a neighborhood cap so the same communities aren’t being impacted during race season. Oakwood and Cameron Park are specifically targeted because of their proximity to downtown.
Special Events Manager Derrick Remer said the city is encouraging races to look outside of downtown to other parts of the city, but there is nothing mandating that they do so.
Downtown is still a popular location for races, but Councilor Mary-Ann Baldwin said that organizers are already looking for alternative locations.
“I think the writing is on the wall for these races,” said Councilor Bonner Gaylord. “They know they’re wearing out their welcome.”
One of the major policy changes would make some permits require administrative approval, instead of requiring a Council action. These include waivers for alcohol on city property and amplified noise, street closures and reservations of parking spaces. Remer said that this would allow city staff to act quickly when plans change.
The policies and the office will be reviewed each year.
Chavis Park Master Plan Approved
On Tuesday Councilors approved the master plan for the John Chavis Memorial Park located in South Raleigh. The park, originally built in 1938, was developed for the area’s black residents during segregation.
Considered a neighborhood park today, during its heyday it was considered a regional park because of its size and resources. It was the largest park for black people in the southeast.
The master plan will provide guidance for improvements to the park, which will be implemented in stages. The total cost for the improvements is estimated at $22 million to $40 million.
“We want to bring back that energy and excitement we felt as children,” said Gretchel Carter-Hinton. Carter-Hinton grew up going to the park as a child in the 1960s and saw its decline in the next decade.
Plans for the revived park include plazas, a new community center and pool, amusement park rides, public art, and athletic courts.
The schematic design for the park is expected to be completed this fall.
Parks Bond Proposed
During his budget presentation, City Manager Ruffin Hall recommended a $92 million parks bond that would fund park projects throughout the city. If approved by council members, the bond will be placed on November’s ballot for a vote.
The list of bond projects won’t include funding for Dix Park.
More information will be presented at the June 3 City Council meeting.
Councilors Want Funding Partners for Crossing Guards
Councilors have asked that city staff consider a request to include $75,000 in the city budget for crossing guards at the 11 Raleigh schools that have previously requested one. But, they also asked that staff work with the school district to provide part of the funding.
“I personally think we need to get our partners, the school board, on board before we do this,” said Crowder.
Mayor Nancy McFarlane asked that staff also reach out to the Wake County Sheriff’s office since schools are a county function.
Councilor John Odom agreed the county and the school district should contribute funding, but wasn’t optimistic that either entity would and said it was a waste of time to ask.
Councilors also discussed the ramifications of giving crossing guards to schools that didn’t meet the standards of the city’s existing policy. To manage tight resources, the city only assigns a crossing guard to schools that have a score of 100 or more. None of these schools crossed that threshold.
Councilor Wayne Maiorano said that the policy should continue to stay in place, but might have to be adjusted.
There are 27 remaining schools without crossing guards, but have not expressed interest in one.
To fund a crossing guard at every school, the city would have to spend about $255,000.
The $75 million wasn’t included in the proposed budget, but will be reviewed during the Council’s budget work sessions taking place each Monday in June at 4 p.m.
Hookah Bars Back in Committee
During the Councilor Comment portion of Tuesday’s meeting, Councilor Mary-Ann Baldwin said that a Glenwood South neighborhood is still having problems related to a hookah bar and cafe on Peace Street.
Neighbors have previously complained about issues with parking, trash, noise and aggressive customers. The last time the issue was heard in the Law and Public Safety Committee, residents and police officers noted a decrease in problems.
Baldwin asked that the committee once again review the issue. The committee meets on the second and fourth Tuesday of the month at 3 p.m.
Privilege License Tax Passes House
City Attorney Tom McCormick announced Tuesday that the North Carolina House of Representatives passed a bill that would cap privilege license fees to a flat $100. At the time of publication, the bill has been referred to the Finance Committee.
The city collects privilege licenses on certain businesses in the city, with about half already paying under $100. If the bill is approved, the city could lose between $3.4 million and $5 million each year.
Road Races Approved
The city council approved the following road races:
Race: Sprint Triathlon for the Rex Healthcare Foundation
Location: Rex Healthcare, 11200 Galleria Avenue
Length: 10 mile bike, 2 mile run
Date and Time: Sunday, August, 17 from 7:00 a.m. until 10:00 a.m.
Attendees: About 300
Contact: Marc Primanti, 919-931-9262, email@example.com
Race: North Hills 5K Race
Location: Trinity Baptist Church, 4815 Six Forks Road
Date and Time: Saturday, Sept. 6 from 8:45 a.m. until 10:30 a.m.
Attendees: Not specified
Contact: Ren Wiles, 919-398-3196, firstname.lastname@example.org