Midtown Raleigh News

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Marbles guests celebrate Duke Energy's $200,000 grant announcement on July 2 with, left to right,  Rebecca Payne of the N.C. Department of Public Instruction; Stick Williams, president of Duke Energy Foundation; and Sally Edwards, president of Marbles Kids Museum.
Marbles guests celebrate Duke Energy's $200,000 grant announcement on July 2 with, left to right, Rebecca Payne of the N.C. Department of Public Instruction; Stick Williams, president of Duke Energy Foundation; and Sally Edwards, president of Marbles Kids Museum. Marbles Kids Museum

Council sends Sheetz rezoning to committee

A City Council committee will consider Wednesday a controversial rezoning application that likely would mean a Sheetz would be built at the northeast corner of Buffaloe and New Hope roads.

The planning commission by a vote of 5-3 recommended the rezoning for approval, but when the application reached the City Council last week, the members decided it merited further discussion by the Comprehensive Planning Committee.

For several of the council members, what is at issue is not just whether this particular rezoning should be approved but whether gas stations should be built in areas similar to the one in question at all.

When the council does vote on the application, it must approve it by a super-majority because of a special petition submitted by neighbors close to the site.

Councilman John Odom has said he is opposed to the gas station, and three other members of the council have said they have concerns about it. Staff writer Sarah Barr

Marbles gets $200,000 grant

The Duke Energy Foundation on Tuesday announced a $200,000 grant to Marbles Kids Museum during a news conference at the museum.

Duke Energy and Marbles are joining forces to support learning in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

The grant will be used to build a STEM Circuit Learning Center at Marbles and to provide free field trips for several elementary schools from Bladen, Duplin, Edgecombe, Lenoir, Pitt, Sampson, Vance, Warren and Wilson counties, including travel stipends to help offset transportation and/or lunch costs.

“Marbles is excited for the opportunity to boost our STEM programming at the museum and to expand our outreach efforts deeper into Eastern North Carolina,” said Sally Edwards, president of Marbles Kids Museum. “Children have fun while learning at Marbles, and we are proud to partner with Duke Energy to advance our STEM learning goals.”

“We’re excited to continue our long-standing relationship with Marbles and provide opportunities for students from some of our state’s highest-need areas in central and eastern North Carolina to experience the joy of play-based learning at Marbles,” said Stick Williams, president, Duke Energy Foundation. “The kids exploring Marbles today are tomorrow’s energy workforce – we’re glad to provide an early glimpse at the excitement a STEM career can offer.” From staff reports

Commission blasts ‘monotonous’ buildings

The city’s appearance commission had some harsh words for developers in its annual report, which was presented to the city council Tuesday.

Commission chairwoman Elizabeth Byrd told the council that many new developments – particularly apartment projects and chain businesses – are starting to look the same.

“We find that there’s a lot of repetition,” she said, highlighting the commission’s findings. “It’s really becoming monotonous.”

Byrd said the commission is looking at ways to promote “better architectural details.” The report also expressed concern that developers are opting for cheaper construction materials and techniques.

That critique resonated with the city council’s two architects, Russ Stephenson and Thomas Crowder. “I don’t believe that those (buildings) are going to stand the test of time, and we’re going to be wondering what we were thinking when we allowed those,” Stephenson said.

But Councilman John Odom said higher building standards could drive up the cost of housing. “I don’t want to be a city of elitists where only the rich can live here,” he said. Staff writer Colin Campbell

Parks department changes name

The city’s Parks and Recreation Department got a new name Tuesday.

The Raleigh City Council voted to rename the agency the Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources Department. The new title reflects the department’s oversight of arts programs as well as historical sites like the Mordecai House north of downtown.

“Over the past several years, the department has expanded its role and has dedicated resources to allow the department to foster, support and promote the arts as well as protect identified historical and museum resource facilities, programs and assets within the City of Raleigh,” department director Diane Sauer wrote in a memo to the city council. From staff reports

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