Report on the West End Association
Long-Range Neighborhood Plan
An ad hoc committee for a West End Neighborhood Plan has met numerous times since October 1997 to examine and discuss current issues faced by the neighborhood. Members include Craig Dishner, David and Lisa Elam, Eric Elliott, Nick Kefal and Mary Ann Sevick, Nancy Dawson-Sauser and Joe Sauser, and Jim Vaughan.
This report of the committees work highlights an action plan for the year ahead for the West End Association; and it invites neighborhood residents, city leaders, and other interested parties to make real its recommendations. Those recommendations are based both on the committees analysis of the areas long term needs, and the committees vision for a fuller realization of the residential and tourist potentials for the neighborhood since it received the status of National Register Historic District in 1986 and Local Historic District in 1993.
The genesis of a number of our ideas can be found in earlier recommendations from a 1978 neighborhood plan. A helpful extended review of that plan is presented here, showing that time does not diminished the merit of good ideas. We remain indebted to those who first crafted them. Other ideas in this report are new, reflecting the changes of a different period, a different economy, and a more stable and mature neighborhood.
The West End Association was formed in 1968 in reaction to the construction of an apartment building at Summit and Manley streets. In 1975 the Association approached the City-County Planning Board for a plan for the West End to help the organization move from reactive to proactive strategies and to build and maintain a strong and stable residential neighborhood. A cooperative planning group was created, the West End Planning Group, composed of Association members and Planning staff. From 1976 to 1978 the group conducted a demographic survey (to supplement existing data, as the neighborhood does not lie in a single census tract) and developed a plan to deal with problems and potential issues for the neighborhood.
At the time of the 1977 survey, the neighborhood was an area with:
declining household size
low percentage of husband-wife
homeowners, & households with children
high percentage of elderly residents
households headed by women
residents largely in the 23-28 age group
twenty-eight percent residential land use
forty-nine percent homeowner occupancy rate
nineteen percent multi-family dwellings
eight percent residential vacancy
six percent commercial retail usage
nine percent office use
seven percent semi-public use
twelve percent public use
seventy-two percent zoned R-2.
As a result of the Planning Groups analysis of such data, the 1978 Neighborhood Plan made a number of observations about, and recommendations for, the West End. A sampling of those most relevant to our 1998 review follows, listed according to the subdivisions of that report.
1. Key components of the neighborhood influencing the quality of life
natural features (wooded slopes) need enhancement with tree maintenance clinics and beautification efforts
old houses need renovation through incentives (better financing and non-discriminatory mortgages) and projects to increase the rate of owner-occupancy and percentage of single-family dwellings; also, need to monitor sub-standard housing
inappropriate commercial enterprises should be hidden with plantings
for I-40 borders, recommend building earthen berms with planting for visual and sound barriers
increase neighborhood visibility by signage at neighborhood entrances and exits
enhance environment by burying utility lines and utilizing distinctive paving to simulate cobblestones
vacant land and vacant dwellings development needed, especially at borders of neighborhood, into single-family dwelling or activities not detrimental to residential character of area; attract businesses to neighborhood border that meet the needs of the neighborhood
commercial and office uses at neighborhood borders are not usually detrimental to West End as long as they are stable; but steps need to be taken to maintain stability and prevent further commercialization though zoning change
the majority of neighborhood is appropriately zoned R-2 (multi-family medium density), which represented a recent downzoning from R-1
in 1978, zoning breakdown was
5 percent B-3 and B-2 (business)
28 percent R-1 (multi-family high density)
72 percent R-2
need to promote West End as controlled mixed-use neighborhood, with perimeter supplying internal commercial needs
Specific zoning change recommendations:
R-1 to R-2 west side of Sunset north of First and east of Sunset from First to Forsyth
R-1 to R-2 of Hill property
B-3 to R-1-S or R-2 of two lots south of First between Piedmont and Fourth and B-3 to R-1 corner of First and Fourth
B-3 to R-1 lots on south of Fourth from Grace Court Park
B-3 to R-1 lots south of West End and Summit intersection
B-3 zoning district allow principal use: building, combined use
B-2 to R-1 two-block areas between 41/2 and Pilot View and between Summit and Broad
creation of a de facto transitional zone around perimeter to protect overall residential character
West End has four times recommended publicly owned recreational land
there should be additional play equipment for children at Hanes Park
Hanes Park sidewalk completion is needed
develop a park to serve West End South in area abutting I-40
improve Grace Court Park with lighting, and create a performance area
improve Spring Park, increasing lighting and the control of erosion
encourage off-street parking
4. Fire Protection
due to the age of houses, fire hazards exist in electrical wiring and defective heating systems; recommend improvements through renovation and community efforts to install fire alarms for elderly and handicapped
West Ends density and public use create larger than usual volumes of trash and more frequent pick-up and receptacles are recommended
commercial containerized garbage pick-up disturbs residents and should be limited to only daytime hours
renovation debris removal needed
recommend neighborhood clean-up days
6. Police Protection
recommend increased and ongoing cooperation between police and residents to lead to better methods of dealing with problems of public drunkenness, speeding
West End is circled by heavy traffic flow
specific problems include
First at Fourth
First at Hawthorne
NC 67 (7th to Northwest)
Pilot View at West End
Summit at West End
Manly at West End
Pilot View at Jersey
potential for becoming problems
Glade - 5th
West End (adjoining Hanes park)
determine what roads should carry traffic, and use knowledge to design neighborhood features
recommendations for traffic changes
close Summit to through traffic from Carolina to 6th
Manley one-way going south
West End off First one-way going south; Piedmont one way going north
open closed alleyways and maintain existing alleys
encourage off-street parking at YMCA and YWCA, parks and commercial shops
The 1978 report closed with a general implementation guide, without a specific timetable to guage its success.
recommend adoption of Neighborhood Plan by City-County Planning Board, Winston-Salem Board of Alderman and Board of County Commissioners (done 10/78)
recommend on-going Association leadership to bring appropriate issues before governmental bodies to effect desired change, e.g. zoning, traffic, housing, renovation financing and environmental problems, some of which will need to be on-going, and carried out by board members, specific advocacy and action committees (beatification, property maintenance)
recommended cooperative work with the city to meet costs of recommended changes that are beyond level of service and seek funding to underwrite cost difference (recommended consideration of special tax district)
A TIMETABLE FOR ACTION:
OUR AMENDED PLAN FOR THE NEIGHBORHOOD
Twenty years later, the West End is a more mature neighborhood. Some of the problems defined in the 1978 plan have been dealt with, others not, and many of the issues and demographics have changed. West End is now a National Register Historic District. Although it was planned in 1890 as one of North Carolinas first street car suburbs, West End achieved Historic District status because it was the first suburb to maintain its design integrity during its original development. West Ends boundaries have altered since the 1978 plan, as the Crystal Towers neighborhood is now considered part of the West End Historic District.
For the West End, problems and opportunities in 1998 include the difficulties faced in the downtown business district, one of our closest and most influential neighbors. A new initiative by the Winston-Salem Downtown Development Corporation [DDC] (Hunter Interests, Inc., Strategic Plan for the Downtown Area of Winston-Salem, NC, 1997) has been proposed to spur growth in office and residential usage as well as recreational and commercial development. In January 1998 the West End Association approved with reservations the plan of the DDC. Most of those reservations are related to concerns with traffic and appropriate adjoining uses that West End struggles with as a residential district contiguous to a city center.
One way to alleviate those concerns is to enhance the distinctiveness and demarcation of the West End neighborhood as a National Register Historic District. Historic Oakwood in downtown Raleigh serves as a good regional model. We believe such efforts aid not just the neighborhood but downtown revitalization as well. Historic preservation projects have pumped more than $1.5 billion into North Carolinas economy in the last twenty years ("The past has paid off for N.C.," Winston-Salem Journal, 22 January 1998, A1). Old Salem has put our city on the tourists map: West End Historic District, with its architectural style and distinctive eateries and shops, can help bring the tourist downtown. Property owners in the West End actively seek to preserve and enhance the historic character of their individual properties. We believe distinctive adornment of the boundaries and community properties of the district - one of the top priorities for the Association and our friends in this report - will have a major impact on the attractiveness of downtown as a business and tourist destination. We are encouraged that most new development along our downtown periphery, as in the planned four-story condominium complex adjacent to Wachovias West End Center by JDL Castle, actively seeks to blend with the historic character of our neighborhood. And we note that discussion is already underway in the Board of Aldermen to tie again Old Salem and the Grace Court area together through either an extension of the current West End Trolley bus service or a renewal of the original trolley line that linked our area to historic Winston and Salem.
Though not a part of the West End Historic District, commercial developments along our periphery - especially along Reynolda Road to our immediate northwest, at the intersection of First Street and Hawthorne Road, and in the business district bounded by Fourth, First, Second, and Broad Streets - will play an important part in the future of the West End neighborhood. This latter "Burke Street triangle," so-called because this area is bisected by Burke Street, could, with the proper recruitment of new business to complement its existing services, serve as West Ends "Main Street," uniting retail, restaurant, entertainment, housing, and civic functions. If it can be so developed, Burke Street will join a healthy urban revitalizing trend. Existing neighborhood communities that never included the concept of a "town center" are beginning to build them from scratch. This new interest in building Main Streets or town centers is the result of:
1) a growing hunger for "community" after being isolated by postwar development patterns,
2) new Main Streets representing a way for communities to compete for new businesses, development, and shops which will, in turn, generate tax revenue,
3) medium- and higher-end stores losing interest in locating in malls and searching for distinctive locations, and
4) increasing numbers of single adults, childless couples, and older adults demanding multifamily housing on or near new Main Streets.
The Burke Street business district, located directly on the perimeter of the West End, is in a unique position to function as the town center for our neighborhood, serving the residents as recommended in the 1978 plan.
We observe that, though the Burke Street triangle already has a high concentration of small business - especially in printing and graphics design, the area has a number of underdeveloped properties which, developed, might aid those looking for a critical mass of customers to open their services. It is worth noting, in light of the Greater Winston-Salem Chamber of Commerces report Forsyth Countys Blueprint for Technology Development (Dec. 1997), that the area would make an excellent location for other small, entrepreneurial, high-tech service firms. It is conveniently located between Piedmont Triad Research Park and the Bowman-Gray School of Medicines Hawthorne campus. The adjoining of some of our high-tech industry gracefully with one of our historic neighborhoods would make an attractive coupling of use not unlike that found in downtown Greenville, SC, another successful regional model of the integration of the historic and new. We recommend the establishment of an Association committee to work with West Ends neighboring businesses (many of whom already support our Association) to further the economic development of our adjoining properties.
One of the reasons for the lack of progress in some areas of the 1978 plan may have been the need for the cooperation, as well as the financial commitment, of city agencies that have multiple demands and limited resources. Therefore, our plan focuses on actions in the near-term which the West End Association itself can take. To ensure follow-up, the plan recommends the creation of six new Association committees with ongoing areas of responsibility:
· Signage/Neighborhood Identification
· Zoning Monitoring
· Government Board Liaison
· Economic Development
· Parks and Recreation
Also, within those areas, this report sets target dates for goals of specific projects. A number of these projects may involve the cooperation of outside agencies, and this timetable will better enable those groups to understand and respond to our sense of priorities.
The long-range plan for the continued revitalization of this neighborhood, especially in the face of a growing downtown, calls for an evolution in the role of the Association and its members: from a group that is not simply vigilant, but pro-active, voicing a vision for itself and the city. We applaud the initiatives of the Assistant City Manager and others who are examining the creation of a council of neighborhoods, like ours, to effectively channel the ideas of citizens to their city leaders ("City Hall wants to be more open," Winston-Salem Journal, 21 January 1998, B1). And to effectively lobby for several of our larger initiatives, we will need updated demographic data and assistance from the City-County Planning staff, the Historic District Commission, and other government agencies. Yet we invite not just our governments, but our areas foundations, beneficent individuals , and corporate investors to join the ongoing, informal, "Dreammakers" committee of Association Board members, as they seek to dramatically underline for ourselves and our citys guests the distinctiveness and resource that is Winston-Salems West End Neighborhood.
Winter 1998 Increase membership, specifically number of dues-paying members. Increase of Association membership fees (now $15 annually), recruiting of business advertisers, and increased canvassing for dues have already begun. Funding: nominal to $100 for printing recruiting materials, but primarily door-to-door canvassing.Begun with January meeting at Brunson Elementary School, location of meetings during school year. Summer meetings tentatively scheduled for Grace Court. Funding: no cost.
Establish a permanent meeting place for the Associations monthly meetings.
1998 Elect new Board, with clear job assignments within Board. Continue monthly newsletter, with increased advertisers and feature profiles on residents and businesses; personally deliver newsletter whenever possible. Increase our advocacy role on issues, through the selection of six committees in March. Set up standing committees within Board, with entire Board acting to raise awareness of Association activities and events, and to communicate those to outside media. Establish 1998 Christmas House Tour committee. Maintain our Association web site: http://www.slkp.com/westend
Release Long-Rang Planning Report to Community Leaders and the Media.
March 1998 Establish a Zoning Monitoring Committee. Oversee actions of the Zoning Board, key to maintaining the character of the neighborhood. Re-examine the mix of uses of property within and without the neighborhood, including rental/homeowner, commercial/vacant, and general aesthetics. Must be able to mobilize attendance at zoning hearings on short notice to effectively lobby group. Funding: none needed; purely organizational. ONGOING.. Members to rotate in their attendance at Alderman, Historic Commission, and Planning Board meetings, with the goal of increasing our information and advocacy effectiveness. Funding: none, purely organizational. ONGOING.
Establish a Government Board Liaison Committee
Establish a West End Economic Development Committee. Identify businesses that would enhance neighborhood and encourage development , with a special emphasis on Burke Street business district. Funding: none at first, purely organizational. ONGOING.
Establish a Parks and Recreation Committee. Members to work with City Recreation and Tourist authorities to develop and advertise the West Ends recreational opportunities. Areas we believe need attention include: monitoring the condition and use of Downtown Church Center Park (see March 1999), Grace Court (see January 1999), Spring Park, and Hanes Park; investigating improvements and better use of Spring Park; inquire about use of only period lighting at Grace Court (eliminating utility pole lighting); checking charter of original grant of Hanes Park to perhaps return parts of it to a more natural use area, as with Ardmores Miller Park; exploring and developing possible greenways, e.g. Peters Creek -- Chatham to Northwest Blvd.; creating sign-identified, safe bike paths within and through neighborhood, linking with other neighborhoods; and the creation of walking tours through the historic buildings of our neighborhood, brochures about which could be distributed at city visitor centers and through the Recreation Department. After the reconstruction of the Hawthorne Curve (c. 2000), explore development of parks at Sunset and Chatham (Duke Power land), with special concern for issues of highway noise and visual pollution at Sunset. ONGOING.
Establish a West End Traffic Committee. Working with City Transportation Department, search for innovative solutions in neighborhood traffic calming (one-way streets, strip signs, 4-way stops, strip cobblestones) and parking; monitor and lobby for resolution of particular problem areas. Funding: none at first, purely organizational. ONGOING.
Establish a Signage/Neighborhood Identification Committee. Charged with establishing designs for logo/typography, appropriate neighborhood boundary signage, identification options within neighborhood, and historic markers for individual homes.. Long-term work on plans for presenting such a clearly designated neighborhood before the community and general public. Funding: none at first, but see projects in June 1998 and January 1999. ONGOING.
April 1998 Invite City Forester/County Extension Agent for discussion of neighborhood trees. Investigate trees for right-of-way replacement, property screening, and Glade Street corridor planting. Advice on replacement and removal of dead trees in our established neighborhood. Possible selection of neighborhood tree ("Valley Forge" Elm or other) as recommended replacement - add to neighborhood distinctiveness through natural boundary building. Organize volunteer acquisition and planting.
June 1998 Develop a new logo and typography for the West End. Signage Committee. A first step in establishing neighborhood identity. Create a distinctive look for the West End in its communication with its publics. Funding: nominal, by Association with Association funds.
Sept. 1998 Create a directory of residents, with information about neighborhood business and renovation regulations. To be provided to all Association members with membership fee; for fee to others. May include nominal information about home histories, or ordering information about Historic District nomination book. Funding: Directory of residents only, c. $1000. Expanded guide, c. $2000-3000. To be paid by Association, purchasers of guide, and advertisers.
January 1999 Post signs with Neighborhood Logo at entrances and exits to neighborhood, along main thoroughfares. Funding: c. $2500-10,000; seek outside grant money, or special donation.
. Design in aluminum or other cast metal. Funding: c. $90, individual home owners, purchase through Association.
Make available new design for historic house markers
Erect signage identifying neighborhood within its borders. Locations to be determined. Investigate the use of utility pole banners as the City has erected elsewhere. Funding: nominal, by Association. In anticipation of future posting of neighborhood streets on street signs within the neighborhood as well.
Dedication of new cast iron clock at Grace Court, with citywide time capsule at base, in anticipation of the millennium. Invite other neighborhood associations to join in selecting the time capsule contents. Funding: c. $8000, by Association, with current funds in special account designated solely for the improvement of Grace Court.
March 1999 Dedicate improvements to Downtown Church Center Park. Work with Recreation Department to add playground equipment, improve site safety. Funding: joint with city, <$1000 by Association. The one park area outside of Grace Court where a little money will make a big improvement, this heavily used park is valued by residents on the north side of West End.
For further information on this report,
contact Nancy Dawson-Sauser at 722-7263 (firstname.lastname@example.org),
or Eric Elliott at 727-9857 (email@example.com).