Greensboro City Council celebrates positive changes

By Maggie Young, Staff Writer

Published in print Mar. 25, 2015

Although turnout was low during last week’s Greensboro City Council meeting, spirits were high as the subjects discussed covered a variety of celebrations.

Beginning the meeting was a resolution in support and honor of Greensboro’s public safety employees. Several councilmembers read statistics related to Greensboro’s emergency services and first responders.

Last year there were 291,062 police responses, 33,678 fire and medical emergency responses, and 11,401 fire safety inspections.

The Greensboro Police Department recently appointed Wayne Scott as the new Chief of Police. Although Scott is new to GPD he is not unfamiliar with Greensboro—he has been a resident here for 28 years.

Looking forward, Chief Scott sees the future of Greensboro as a city with lower neighborhood crime and enhanced resident-officer relations.

Chief Scott is not the only new addition to downtown Greensboro. Peggy and Nat Bernstein recently purchased three Stephen J. Fisher sculptures to be installed downtown.

“Ribbon One,” “Ribbon Two” and “The Act” are three metal sculptures that will be finding permanent residence downtown in the coming weeks.

Fisher is an innovative artist known for his ability to create sculptures that appear to defy gravity.

The sculptures being donated to Greensboro were constructed entirely without seams.

Resident Laura Wagg commented on the importance of public art saying, “It becomes part of the community and soon enough it becomes part of our identity.”

The council also voted to accept a proposal— appropriate for a council meeting occurring on St. Patrick’s Day — recognizing April as North Carolina Beer month.

The expanding brewery industry is an important factor in North Carolina’s tourism and job growth.

Several breweries, including Red Oak, Natty Green’s and Gibb’s Hundred, got their start in and around Greensboro.

Councilman Matheney reported that there are “100 craft breweries in North Carolina, more than any other state in the south.” He also remarked that North Carolina ranks tenth in the country for number of breweries.

April is a busy month this year as the council additionally declared it to be Greensboro’s Emancipation Proclamation Awareness month for 2015.

This April will mark the 150th Anniversary of the end of the Civil War.

Mayor Nancy Vaughn presented the resolution, which aims “to encourage the celebration of the spirit of freedom, equality and justice for all by all citizens of Greensboro.”

In recognition of this historic event, Greensboro will be housing the original Emancipation Proclamation at the Greensboro Historic Museum from March 28 to April 26 as part of the “Emancipation Proclamation Voices of Freedom” exhibit.

Mayor Vaughn also stated that at 5:00 pm on March 26 “there will be a reception and ribbon cutting in oral histories at the Greensboro Civil Rights Museum followed by a walk to the Greensboro Historic Museum.”

Moving into the public comment period, a sizeable crowd of residents came to voice their opposition for an action they fear will hinder their accessibility to public transportation.

Four residents spoke out again rising SCAT fares; however, Councilwoman Hightower, who is also the GTA liaison, assured the speakers that the fares would not be rising.

“We have not talked about going up on rates; we have not begun to meet about that…I’m not sure where that’s coming from,” Hightower assured the citizens.

SCAT provides transportation to thousands of people in Greensboro. In many areas, the bus service is necessary simply for residents to get to a grocery store.

As Councilwoman Hightower and Councilwoman Abuzuaiter assured residents during the meeting that fares are not going up.

The bigger concern for one Greensboro resident who spoke— Robert Horton— is the fact that people need buses to get to grocery stores at all. 

Food deserts are a common issue in Greensboro leaving many low-income areas without easy access to grocery stores.

Horton, president and founder of iCare Alliance, aims to put an end to every food desert in Greensboro within the next six months.

“Working with the North Carolina Legislature…we are instituting food service that is ‘mobile delivery.’”

His approach is to provide grocery store “food trucks” that can drive to any part of the city to allow residents to buy fresh produce.

He desires to “improve the health and wellness of everyone in the community.”

The organization will also be opening two new grocery stores in Guildford County—one in Four Seasons Mall and one in High Point.

Horton and his crew will drive their “grocery trucks” to the remaining areas that continue to suffer from lack of grocery stores.

Mayor Vaughn asked Horton to provide the council with more information on his business and plan, saying, “This is definitely something that is a concern to all of us.”

Councilman Wilkins requested that Horton receive 15-20 minutes to discuss his organization at the council’s next work session and concluded by saying, “I’m excited about what I’m hearing.”

Moving to another item on the agenda, College Hill will be seeing some renovations in the coming months.

The council approved a future land-use map for one of the oldest neighborhoods in Greensboro—a victory for the College Hill Neighborhood Association.

After years of constructing the College Hill Neighborhood plan, the association will finally be able to make headway.

According to the draft, the plan intends to “present practical strategies and policy recommendations for enhancing desirable conditions and reducing undesirable conditions in College Hill.”

A plethora of speakers came out to encourage the council to approve their plan—it passed seven to zero.

Every resident present, including councilmembers, celebrated the hard work and resolve of those who strove to refine the plan to what it is today.

Categories: Maggie Young, News

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