City Council met Tuesday for its regular session to discuss various items, including the downtown master plan and the Cross Link Road traffic calming project.
Items on the consent agenda were approved. Notable items included a municipal agreement with the North Carolina Department of Transportation and Capitol Area Metropolitan Planning Organization. The item had three projects listed, including a project for corridor improvements on New Bern Avenue.
The discussion about the traffic calming project on Cross Link Road continued. City staff had reached out to the local citizens advisory committee (CAC) prior to the city council session. Wake County schools had also offered input in the process. The item was referred to the public works committee.
Whit Wheeler of the public utilities department gave an update on the life safety and cross connection compliance management services. The program is responsible for the testing of life safety equipment and water quality through the city’s distribution system. Records are currently being kept for both parts of the program.
A representative from the office of fire marshals said the office had started a web based data system to handle reports that the city would also have access to. Only licensed testing agencies would be able to put reports into the database system and would be charged a $10 fee. Wheeler said the database was an opportunity to give a clearer look at the infrastructure within the city. The database management system might also help the office of fire marshals to fight fires within the city.
“In order to have this system, we will have to have some code changes,” Wheeler said.
Wheeler said testing agencies would need to be required to submit electronic reports and that the administrative fee needed to be charged to those agencies.
“I want to commend you for doing things in a new way,” councilor Baldwin said.
Fred Merrill of Sasaki Associates, a design firm based in Boston, MA, walked the council through the downtown master plan.
The goal of the plan was to develop a 10-year vision for downtown. The vision highlights included downtown being an economic engine for the city and making it a hub for entrepreneurs, artists, and businesses.
One of the framework themes included “breathe,” which is the plan to make downtown greener, including the building of parks and creating connections between green space. Another framework theme—“stay”—talked about five areas that could be filled in with residential or other types of developments around the major companies and buildings that had already arrived.
“I know in downtown you need to go “up” more,” Merrill said, “you have a lot of neighborhoods, so you can’t really go out.”
One of the specific areas talked about was Moore Square and the need to develop that park better in order to make it a “new, outdoor living room,” according to Merrill, which would also reinvigorate city market. Priority areas would be Nash Square, the warehouse district, and downtown retail.
“This is a transformational vision,” councilor Stephenson said.