A crowd of around 25 citizens joined at Carolina Pines Community Center to participate in the October 12, 2009 meeting of the South West Citizens Advisory Council (SWCAC). The special guest for this evening was The Honorable Senator Josh Stein, who provided an update from the most recent legislative session and took questions from the audience.
The meeting started off with an update from Officer Upchurch. Over the last month there were 724 calls between September 15, 2009 – October 12, 2009. The calls only cover the SWCAC area. There was a lot of concern about a drug search at 2420 Voyager Circle where we didn’t get a lot of details. Officer Upchurch said that this was a fairly normal search warrant by the Selective Enforcement Unit (SEU), we just usually don’t see SWAT-like officers in our area very often. Some residents were concerned for their safety and believe that things are being kept quiet because NC State students are involved. Other calls of interest included:
- 61 animal calls
- 14 loud noise
- 32 loud parties
- 11 parking violations
- 29 suspicious persons
- 12 suspicious vehicles
- 77 traffic stops
Next was our parks updates. Basketball registration was recently extended. The Fall Carnival is coming up on October 26, 2009 from 6:30-8:00pm and includes games for children ages 1-10. Other programs include Flava Days (ages 10-16) and Yes Day (ages 6-11) that are designed for when there are teacher work days. A pilot program includes a teen Wii fitness starting on November 2. Get more information about park programs and sports in the Leisure Ledger.
SWCAC Chair, Mary Belle Pate, then gave a few announcements. First, the Arts Commission Celebrates 25 Years Supporting Local Art At Block Gallery. She also mentioned she had membership information for the Raleigh City Cemeteries, the closest one to us it Mt. Hope. Neighborhood College and Citizen Leadership Academy are great opportunities to learn more about city government. She mentioned that the Comprehensive Plan was adapted by Raleigh City Council and strongly recommended that citizens get involved in the upcoming New Development Code project, which is the next phase of comprehensive planning. She reviewed the upcoming details of several kickoff meetings starting next week.
Pate noted one correction in the newsletter about the Carolina Pines Lake Dam Project. Plan details state that Carolina Pines (not Lake Wheeler Road) will be closed for approximately six – eight (6-8) months beginning in December 2009 (weather permitting) or January 2010, between Oleander and Henslowe. Anyone traveling between Lake Wheeler Road and South Saunders Street will have to find an alternate route for that period of time. When the project is completed, this section of Carolina Pines will have curbs, because it is a 41 foot wide minor collector street.
It’s critical to not lose sight of what’s important to the people — Senator Josh Stein
Our special guest, Senator Josh Stein, was introduced. Senator Stein started off by saying that he’s had one career during his lifetime, public service. One of his main priorities is to bring about change to improve people’s lives. Stein provided an update from the past legislative session. Highlights included:
- toughest economic times in 80 years
- 22% gap that was closed with a combination of cuts, raising revenues, and federal stimulus money
- focus on public education, economic stimulus, maintain public health, preserve quality of life
- public education is crucial to economic development, during recessions increase in community college enrollment
- for K-3, pupil to teacher ratio was maintained
- investments made to community college system and university system
- increased need based financial aid for colleges
Clean energy economy
- generated good paying jobs that can’t be exported to other countries
- decrease carbon emissions
- increase clean energy
- reduce our dependency on foreign oil
- extended and increased tax credit for renewable energy sources
- estimated 9,000 new jobs will be created and $700 million in capital investment available
- healthcare needs to work for all, providing affordable, quality healthcare
- increased the number of children covered
- contain healthcare costs
- ban on smoking in all bars and restaurants
- improving the future water quality at Falls Lake
- congestion Relief and Intermodal legislation
- provides economic development
- better for families
- provides clean air
- reduces congestion, air pollution, and carbon emissions
- protects open space
- couples transit and land-use planning
Senator Stein also talked about consumer protection items. Credit freezes, which use to cost $30, are now free. The annual credit report companies must now, for the State of North Carolina, tell you about the free option for your credit report and where you can get that from.
In closing, Senator Stein said that it’s critical to not lose sight of what’s important to the people. You can find a full update of this information at Senator Stein’s E-Newsletter, Sept. 3, 2009.
Questions from the audience included topics around campaign finance, growth / rail system, economic outlook for 2010, budget efficiency’s & incentives, insurance / beach plan, and out-of-state tuition for college athletes. One attendee pointed out the website, NC Thinks http://www.ncthinks.nc.gov/ , that provides all citizens a way to send in ideas about solutions to challenging problems.
The meeting concluded with an update about community parks and community gardens. Mary Belle said their may be opportunities to start a pilot with Parks & Rec to have community gardens at Carolina Pines, Eliza Pool, Peach Road, or the new park at Lineberry and Sierra.