Council caps number of road races
The Raleigh City Council on Tuesday approved rules that cap the number of marathons, races and parades that force street closings at 100 events per year. Event organizers also will pay a $100 application fee to cover administrative costs such as researching proposed routes and detouring public buses.
Bruce Bokish, owner of Precision Race, says nonprofits could lose a popular fundraising option.
With the cap looming, leaders plan to steer smaller races to city parks, where they’ll establish several certified 5K courses that don’t use streets. Locations could include the Dorothea Dix campus and Walnut Creek Park in Southeast Raleigh.
The new policy doesn’t address another complaint: local races getting bumped from the schedule by a bigger event with national prestige. Some race organizers were upset that the council approved prime routes for the Rock ’n’ Roll Marathon Series and Ironman Triathlon – effectively canceling local races scheduled for the same dates. The council can still schedule “an economic development event at any time,” assistant city manager Dan Howe said.
But established local events could reserve their date for up to three years – an assurance several races need to secure major sponsorships. First-time races could reserve the same date the following year once obligations to the city are met.
Organizers successfully blocked a proposed $350-per-mile fee to race on Raleigh’s greenways. The council agreed Tuesday to drop the fee – at least for the next year – and absorb the estimated $10,000 to $12,000 to get the trails mowed and ready for race day.
Council OKs animal rule tweaks
City attorney Tom McCormick’s proposal for addressing a series of attacks last year in East Raleigh adds parts of state statutes to make an animal control officer’s options more clear. The updated ordinance explicitly says the officers can confiscate “dangerous or potentially dangerous dogs” and keep them at the owners’ expense. It also includes the state’s definition for dangerous and potentially dangerous dogs.
Last April, a neighborhood off North Raleigh Boulevard complained of a series of dog attacks that left pets and people injured. Neighbors said the city’s current rules – less punitive than the county’s ordinances in some respects – leave them vulnerable to the area’s vicious dogs.
The East Citizens Advisory Council has formed a committee to review the rule changes. Meanwhile, the city council is still considering whether to ban roosters after several complaints of inappropriate crowing.
Councilman Thomas Crowder said he’s not sure the problem can be handled solely through noise rules. “I guess it’s hard to control the crowing unless you’re going to have fried chicken the next day,” he quipped.
Raleigh won’t fight state gun law
The council is compiling its legislative agenda, the list of local priorities it sends to legislators. Councilwoman Mary Ann Baldwin doesn’t think greenway users should be allowed to pack heat, but she said petitioning the Republican-dominated legislature for an exemption would be futile.
“I think when you have political capital, you use it wisely,” she said.
The council voted 5-3 in favor of Baldwin’s request to take greenway gun rules off the list. Councilman Randy Stagner was among those who want to continue pushing the gun issue at the legislature.
“It’s an important issue here,” he said. “Additional guns on the greenway do not make it safer.”
Stagner said he’s received emails from gun enthusiasts offering to help police the greenway with their weapons. “I don’t see a need for outside first responders,” he said. “We do an excellent job of that here.”
Cities and towns across North Carolina were forced to change park and greenway rules in 2011 in response to legislation that law that allows guns in all parks but makes an exception for “recreational facilities” such as playgrounds, swimming pools and ballfields.
Loan for house move approved
The city will chip in $100,000 from the city’s Preservation Revolving Loan Fund to buy a new site for the historic Crabtree Jones House – one of Raleigh’s oldest homes – when it’s moved to make way for apartments.
Preservation North Carolina, a nonprofit that’s working with an apartment developer to move the Crabtree Jones House, will use the loan to buy and demolish a Hillmer Drive home where the historic house will be placed. The apartment developer will cover moving costs.
Preservation North Carolina plans to buy the lot for about $300,000. Private contributions will cover the remainder of the cost after the loan. Once the move is complete, PNC expects to sell the house to someone who will renovate it. A $350,000 asking price will allow PNC to repay the loan.
The move taps out the Preservation Revolving Loan Fund until funds are repaid within three years.
County may join city in 911 center
The city is moving ahead with plans for a $69 million building on Brentwood Road to house its 911 call center, an emergency operations center and data center. By contributing $4 million to the cost, the county can move its emergency operations center – now in the basement of the Wake County Courthouse – to the new building.
During and after an emergency, such as the tornado that hit Raleigh in April 2011, the emergency operations center becomes a command hub, with a communications center for gathering and disseminating information and officials from a range of branches of government and even the Red Cross. City staff proposed the new building after an earlier project, which became known as the Lightner Public Safety Center, was scrapped, largely because of escalating costs associated with security improvements.
Security questions may be an issue with the new building as well. Commissioner Paul Coble told Josh Creighton, the county’s emergency management director, that he would not support moving emergency operations into a four-story building that could be the target of a terrorist attack. Coble said he thought it would be a mistake to put the center anywhere but underground.
All the commissioners appeared to be in support of moving the operations center out of its existing space, which is too small.
For now, commissioners approved $100,000 for architects to design plans for the new building that will include a Wake County component, and one without.
The Raleigh City Council voted in December to go ahead with the project whether the county decides to share in it or not. The county board will decide later, likely in May or June, whether to become a partner.