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February 1998


NOTES FROM THE EDITOR

During our last winter rainstorm, I noticed our roof had sprung a leak(s) over the porch. I immediately hit the Yellow pages and began calling roof repair companies. It was amazing the various responses I received - some wanted to charge $65.00 or more just to come out and look, others would do it for free and a few had actually done work on the older homes in the West End. I choose 3 companies and they all came out and checked the damage. A variety of remedies were proposed by all 3, none of them the same.

Maybe it's just me, but I've found it very difficult to get good contractors for various home projects. Some of these businesses won't even return a phone call - I guess business must be so good they can pick which jobs they will take. I spoke to West Ender Don Mikush about this problem and he knew of a plasterer and carpenter who did excellent work at his home. I thought about this and figured that other West Enders might have similar problems with finding dependable and reputable companies to do work on their homes.

I would like you readers to send me some feedback on your good experiences with local contractors. No companies will be identified by name nor will I publish negative reviews. If I receive enough interest, I will make up a list of these companies and publish them in upcoming issues of the newsletter. I feel this will give new West End residents like myself a very helpful guide in obtaining quality contractors for various home projects and problems.

Incidentally, I did find a contractor who identified the problems (no flashing around the chimneys and an improperly installed roof), gave me a great deal( get roof work done in the off season - roofers are more hungry), and solved the problem. Ah, the thrill of an older home!

 

MINUTES FROM THE JANUARY MEETING

Treasurer Mike Hill informed us that the Association has in excess of $7,500.00 in the bank.

Nick Kefal, Business Manager, suggested that West Enders patronize the sponsors of the newsletter - without their help our newsletter would not exist.

Nancy Dawson-Sauser gave a preview of the Long Range Plan. The plan is scheduled for completion in February. It was noted that none of the ideas in the Long Range Plan of 1977 have taken place - the plan itself was adopted by the Commissioners and Alderman and that was it.

Meeting locations were discussed and the Brunson Elementary School voted as the location until the spring.

Helene Cannon presented the Association response to the Downtown Development Plan

and spoke about the key areas in the response.

 

WEST END HAPPENINGS

The next meeting of the Association will be held on February 3 at Brunson Elementary School from 7:30 PM to 9:00 PM. The Long Range Planning Committee will present the final Long Range Plan. Tentatively, an individual who lived in grew up in the early West End may come to speak.

The 1998 West End Association membership drive is in full swing. If you have already paid your dues, thank you. If not, please take a few minutes to do so. We are going to need a lot of people to help start implementing our long range plan. Please join us and become an active member of the association. To help make the process a little easier, there will be a membership table at our Feb. 3rd annual meeting where you can pay your dues. As an additional incentive to join, we are having a drawing for a $30 gift certificate for the West End Cafe at our March meeting. All members who have paid their dues for 1998 will be eligible.

West End Response to the Strategic Plan for the Downtown Area

First and foremost, we agree with and support the idea of creating a strategic plan for Downtown Development. While there are currently several smaller-scale efforts going on to redevelop different sections of Downtown, including Trade Street and the Downtown Arts District, long-term success depends on a demonstrated and actionable commitment by the City of Winston-Salem to support these and other Downtown development projects.

There are some specific elements of the Proposed Plan, however, which we believe should be given some reconsideration:

Courthouse Square:

While it is true that the Courthouse has already been torn down 3 times, we feel strongly that the current building is worth preserving. We suggest taking down the annexes so that only the original building remains. This will add "green space" around the Courthouse and the current building could be renovated to house a public attraction such as a Children's museum or an annex of the Public Library. This would create interest and traffic around the green space.

The Urban Entertainment Complex:

Several models of this type were mentioned in the proposed plan, however, there is some concern that emphasis on this type of development would overshadow the more unique character of the existing redevelopment efforts. We encourage the City and the Downtown Development Corporation to continue exploring the Greenville, SC model. Greenville has sustained an entrepreneurial effort to provide evening entertainment via a self-supporting non-profit organization. This effort incorporates Greenville's heritage in the arts and coordinates existing performance activities in addition to encouraging new development. Winston-Salem has a very similar heritage to Greenville, which makes this model particularly interesting. A committee of people are willing to offer assistance in starting a model like the Greenville model. We invite the city to explore every possible opportunity for exploiting arts activities in downtown. Downtown redevelopment should build upon the positive resources already existing in the downtown area. The recent influx of art galleries and coffee shops represents a positive turn for the downtown; subsequent development should reinforce this positive direction without compromising it through large, inappropriate projects.

The proposed Motor Sports Hall of Fame (Section X., p. 68):

There are 2 points of view on this proposal. The initial response was that a Nascar theme was not in character with some of the current downtown attractions, such as the Stevens Center, the Arts District or Old Salem. There was some concern that the motor sports audience may not spill over into the other attractions of downtown and that there would be a lack of synergy between the proposed attractions and existing attractions. The potential for traffic and parking problems was also mentioned as a possible negative element.

A second point of view gives merit to the argument that a Motor Sports attraction could widen the pool from which downtown business would draw, and therefore could be beneficial to overall commercial development. Such a highly visible project could serve as a symbol that the City of Winston-Salem is committed to redeveloping downtown and that the downtown is a "live," safe place for both the public and future investors. In addition, many businesses with which the community is strongly identified with are closely connected to motor sports, and therefore such a facility would in some ways be in keeping with the unique character of Winston-Salem. We also recognize that this would not be the sole element which will make up the identity of Winston-Salem in the future.

Overall, given the significant potential impact on the success or failure of downtown redevelopment and the possibility that the cost of the project could take resources away from other aspects of the plan, we would strongly urge that the NASCAR Museum/Motor Sports Hall of Fame be carefully weighed against every other option. If implemented, attention must be given to balancing this approach to development with the Greenville model. A separate feasibility study could be undertaken if necessary.

In general, regarding the overall plan:

The Downtown requires a vision which will unify efforts at redevelopment on the part of the city and private investment. This vision should focus on preserving and developing the unique local character of the Downtown area. In addition to promoting residential development and pedestrian traffic, the plan should incorporate Historic Preservation as an intrinsic element of redevelopment.

While it is important to support "landmark" initiatives such as the development of Class A office space to attract and maintain a significant employment base, and the improvement of Convention facilities to compete in the general marketplace, equally as important to the long-term success of creating a living, breathing Downtown is to incorporate the concept of decentralized empowerment of private investment. The city should make a concerted effort to help private investors create small businesses, rather than concentrating solely on large scale development. It is the small businesses - restaurants, retail and entertainment - that will create an environment unique enough to compete with suburban malls and convenience oriented, chain-style entertainment for both tourist and local dollars.

City leadership will be vital for downtown redevelopment in drafting and enforcing general development criteria.

The city can best support downtown redevelopment through action on traffic, parking and zoning issues, as well as facilitating small subsidies for appropriate development.