The Durham City Council asked staff last week to consider alternatives to the city’s memorial policy, after one person’s complaint led to the removal of at least two ghost bikes.
During Thursday’s work session, Councilman Steve Schewel requested staff to review the recent policy, and the rest of the council agreed in a unanimous vote.
“I am concerned that the bar that we have for removal for memorials is too low,” he said.
In June, one resident’s complaint resulted in the removal of ghost bikes – bicycles painted white and placed along roads where a cyclist has died.
That same resident complained about a third memorial in July.
The complaints started the clock for a city policy that states memorials will be removed within 45 days after someone complains. Supporters of the ghost bikes criticized the policy and said the memorials do more than honor someone; they alsopoint out areas that present traffic hazards to cyclists.
More than 1,650 people have signed a Change.org petition asking the city to revise the policy
This policy, approved in December, was meant to provide some consistency for the treatment of memorials on city property after a memorial was erected at the Durham Police Department following the November 2013 death of teenager Jesus Huerta, who died from a self-inflicted gunshot while handcuffed in the back of a patrol car.
“I do think that the one mistake that we made in the policy is that we have set citizen against citizen,” City Councilman Don Moffitt said. “That is something we need to think about.”
In other business
Workers who contend a subcontractor owes them $200,000 for work on the new downtown Residence Inn sought help from the City Council on Aug. 3.
The group brought signs, and worker Isaac Perez asked the City Council to block the about $500,000 in city incentives that the city promised the project.
“They are making money now, and the job is done,” he said. “It is not fair that they are getting money and we are waiting for them.”
City Council members and staff said the incentives wouldn’t kick in until January 2017, and the city isn’t the proper authority to adjudicate the situation. City Manager Tom Bonfield, however, connected Perez with Durham Congregations, Associations and Neighborhoods, a community organizing group.
Council members indicated they would watch the how the situation unfolds.
“I do believe that we should not be making that incentive payment until we are absolutely 100 percent certain your wages have been paid,” Schewel said.
Perez contents subcontractor SLP Enterprises owes about 10 workers about $200,000. Representatives of SLP Enterprises said the dispute involved three workers who didn’t complete work or did subpar work.