Category: Mayor

February 17th, 2018 by newbernpostadmin

Out (for now): Hotel and parking structure at Craven and Pollock

 

Policy wonks from the UNC School of Government are urging the City of New Bern to turn its attention from a possible parking structure and hotel across from City Hall, and return its attention to a vacant lot at the corner of Craven and South Front streets.

UNC SoG special projects managers Marcia Perritt and Omar Kashef appeared before the Board of Aldermen on Tuesday to advise on behalf of the pivot.

The Pollock and Craven parking structure/hotel SoG had been advocating has been put on hold while Craven County officials decide whether they want to participate. Participation for the county is no small matter. It includes moving the county tax office, donating the property on which the tax office resides to the project, and pooling its tax revenues from the ensuing project until the city pays off the seven-figure costs to build the parking deck.

Editor note: My notes are incomplete, and the PDF the city originally posted online for the project is offline at the moment. Link

The vacant lot at the corner of Craven and South Front streets was acquired by the city as two separate purchases totaling $209,000 in 2000 and 2001. Tax value of the property is now listed at $567,630.

In the mid-2000s, Talbots looked at the property to build a department store, but opposition to the plan put a stop to that. Since then, the lot has been home to grass and one stately tree, with occasional events being held there.

SoG envisions a hotel being built on the property, assuming that some agreement could be made with the city to lease nearby public parking spaces for hotel guests.

SoG apparently is unaware that nearby municipal parking lots are part of a proposed parking master plan tied in with enforced two-hour parking streetside and a push to get visitors and downtown workers to use the municipal parking lots.

Kashef said the goal of SoG’s efforts is to keep people downtown after 5 p.m. by finding projects that serve the public interest and that are financially feasible.

Other areas needing attention, he said, are undeveloped and under-developed parcels and buildings, insufficient parking, and development of second-story uses such as residential and office space. The

Alderman Sabrina Bengel pointed out that downtown’s second-floor spaces are being developed “one right after another. I don’t see that holding us back as much as development of empty lots, vacant buildings and underutilized buildings.”

Bengel also urged SoG to make sure there is public participation in the process.

Alderman Johnnie Ray Kinsey reminded that the Five Points area continues to lack any attention from the city in terms of economic development.

“It would be good to see the city grow together,” he said.

 

Posted in Aldermen, Board of Aldermen, Craven County Board of Commissioners, Mayor, New Bern, New Bern business and commerce

February 7th, 2018 by newbernpostadmin

CITY OF NEW BERN
BOARD OF ALDERMEN MEETING
FEBRUARY 13, 2018 – 6:00 P.M.
CITY HALL COURTROOM
300 POLLOCK STREET

Meeting opened by Mayor Dana E. Outlaw.  Prayer Coordinated by Alderman Bengel.  Pledge of Allegiance.
2. Roll Call.
3. Request and Petition of Citizens.
This section of the Agenda is titled Requests and Petitions of Citizens.  This is an opportunity for public comment, and we thank you for coming to the Board of Aldermen meeting tonight to share your views.  We value all citizen input.
Speaker comments are limited to a maximum of 4 minutes during the public comment period.  At the conclusion of 4 minutes, each speaker shall leave the podium.  Comments will be directed to the full board, not to an individual board member or staff member.  Although the board is interested in hearing your comments, speakers should not expect any comments, action or deliberation from the board on any issue raised during the public comment period.
In the board’s discretion, it may refer issues to the appropriate city officials or staff for further investigation.  If an organized group is present to speak on a common issue, please designate one person to present the group’s comment, which shall be limited to a maximum of 4 minutes.

Consent Agenda
4. Consider Adopting a Resolution Closing Specific Streets for an Antique Car Show.
(Ward 1) Frederick Wagner, Event Coordinator with First Capital Chapter Antique Automobile Club of America, has requested the 200-300 blocks of Middle Street and 300-400 blocks of Pollock Street be closed on May 12, 2018 from 6 a.m. until 2 p.m. for a car show.  A memo from Foster Hughes, Director of Parks and Recreation, is attached along with a copy of the event application and a map. (See Backup)
5. Consider Adopting a Resolution Amending the Street Closure for the Black History Month Parade to Include a Rain Date.
(Ward 1) A resolution was adopted on January 23, 2018 approving street closures for the Black History Month Parade scheduled for February 17, 2018.  The resolution did not provide for a rain date, and organizers are concerned about the possibility of inclement weather and have requested a rain date of February 24, 2018.  The proposed resolution has been amended to include this alternate date.  The streets that will be closed to vehicular traffic from 10:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. are the 500 block of Fort Totten Drive, 1300-1800 blocks of Trent Boulevard, 400 block of First Street, 700-1300 blocks of Broad Street, and 400-800 blocks of George Street. (See Backup)
6. Approve Minutes.
Minutes from the January 23, 2018 regular meeting and February 2-3, 2018 retreat are provided for review and approval.

Main Agenda Items

7. Presentation by UNC School of Government on the Development Finance Initiative Project.
In 2015, the City engaged the UNC School of Government’s Development Finance Initiative (“DFI”) to evaluate the redevelopment potential of several City-owned properties located downtown.  Representatives from the DFI will provide a presentation to briefly review the overall project and then focus on their current efforts, which are centered on the vacant lot located at the intersection of Craven and South Front Streets. (See Backup)
8. Consider Adopting a Resolution Approving the North Carolina Statewide Emergency Management Mutual Aid and Assistance Agreement – Revision 2017.
The City has previously adopted a resolution approving a North Carolina Statewide Emergency Management Mutual Aid and Assistance Agreement.  This agreement is revised from time to time, and the last revision was approved in August of 2005.  Because of changes in local officials and state positions, it has become necessary to once again revise the agreement.  Stanley Kite, Craven County’s Emergency Services Director, has forwarded “Revision 2017” to participating local governments.  The agreement meets FEMA’s requirements and helps speed up the process for local governments when applying for FEMA reimbursement. (See Backup)
9. Consider Adopting a Resolution Approving a Qualified Source for Obtaining the Ethics Training Required by NC General Statute §160A-87.
NC General Statute § 160A-87 requires all members of governing boards to receive a minimum of two clock hours of ethics education within 12 months after initial or subsequent election or appointment to office.  The training shall cover laws and principles that govern conflicts of interest and ethical standards of conduct at the local government level.  Statute allows for the training to be provided by the NC League of Municipalities or UNC School of Government, among others, or by a qualified source of the governing board’s choosing.
Eastern Carolina Council (“ECC”) is offering training on February 22, 2018 from 6-8 p.m. at their office.  This training will be conducted by David Baxter, an attorney with Sumrell, Sugg, Carmichael, Hicks & Hart, PA.  The board is asked to consider approving this as a qualified source for meeting the mandated training requirements.  Currently, three Board members have expressed a desire to attend the training offered through ECC.  Any others who wish to sign up for this local training are asked to notify the City Clerk for registration purposes.  The Clerk is required by statute to maintain a record verifying receipt of the ethics education by each member of the board. (See Backup)
10. Consider Adopting a Resolution Approving a Contract with the NC Department of Environmental Quality for Grant Funds for the Neuse River Gateway Project Phase II.
(Ward 3) On August 9, 2016, the Board authorized the submission of a final application to the NC Department of Natural Resources – Coastal Management Division for the 2016/17 Public Beach and Coastal Waterfront Access Grant.  The application was approved, and the City has been awarded $55,000.00.  The grant does require a total match of $18,333.33, of which $9,166.66 shall be in-kind services and $9,166.67 shall be cash.  Funds will be utilized for the Neuse River Gateway Project Phase II.  A memo from Foster Hughes, Director of Parks and Recreation, is attached. (See Backup)
11. Consider Adopting a Resolution Authorizing the Submission of a Grant Application to Creative Economic Development, LLC for a Creative Give Back Grant.
(Ward 3) Staff is seeking approval to submit an application for the Creative Give Back Grant offered by Creative Economic Development, LLC.  If received, the grant funds will be utilized to formulate a sustainable organizational and economic development plan for the City Market project.  The City Market calls for outdoor vending areas, a market, a commercial kitchen accelerator, and an inventor’s space. This grant can assist with developing the most effective and efficient organization and layout of these elements.  While the grant does not require matching funds nor the Board’s consent to apply, it will look favorable in the scoring process to show the Board supports the application.  Thus, a resolution is presented for your consideration.  A memo from Jeff Ruggieri, Director of Development Services, is provided. (See Backup)
12. Consider Adopting a Resolution to Consider Temporarily Closing 2nd Street Between Rhem Avenue and Trent Boulevard.
(Ward 1) The Ghent Community has long expressed concerns about the volume of traffic on 2nd Street, which is routinely used as a cut-thru between Country Club Road and Trent Boulevard.  The neighborhood has voiced concerns about increased traffic volume and safety issues for children and residents.  Staff has worked to alleviate some of these issues by installing additional stop signs, posting “No Thru Traffic” signs, increasing police presence, relocating the Public Utilities Department and directing City employees to avoid use of 2nd Street as a means of access to the City Garage.  In spite of these efforts, the Ghent Community still has concerns.  A 2016 traffic study revealed the street has an average of 1,675 vehicles per day.
At the request of Aldermen Bengel and Aster, a temporary closure of 2nd Street is proposed between Rhem Avenue and Trent Boulevard.  This closure will be for a period of 90 days from February 19, 2018 and May 20, 2018.  During this time, staff will perform multiple traffic-count studies and will also monitor the impact on adjoining streets.  A memo from Matt Montanye, Director of Public Works, is attached. (See Backup)
13. Consider Adopting an Amendment to the Budget Ordinance for Fiscal Year 2017-2018 and Modifying the Classification Pay Plan.
A recent Market Analysis Pay Study was conducted to provide a comprehensive review and comparable analysis of the City’s present position classifications and pay plan.  The City’s salaries were compared with 16 other local governments. To provide data necessary to ensure the competitiveness of New Bern’s salaries with comparable employers, which is imperative for effective recruitment and retention efforts.  It also ensures external competitiveness and internal equity and consistency among similar positions.  Ninety-nine classifications were recommended for pay grade advances in order to place employees in the appropriate market-based salary range.  As a result, employees who are currently below the recommended minimum will need to be brought up to the suggested minimum salary, and salary compression issues will need to be addressed.  The total implementation cost for these changes is $308,000 annually.  The cost for FY2018 will be approximately $154,000, although some of this expense can be absorbed through position vacancies.  To accommodate these changes, a budget amendment is proposed to fund the changes through a reduction in contingency.  Additionally, Section 4 of the FY2017-18 Budget Ordinance will be modified to incorporate an updated Classification Pay Plan.  Memos from Sonya Hayes, Director of Human Resources, and J.R. Sabatelli, Director of Finance, are attached along with a copy of the Market Analysis Pay Study and proposed changes to the Classification Pay Plan. (See Backup)
14. Consider Adopting a Budget Ordinance Amendment for FY 2017-18 General Fund.
This budget ordinance amendment appropriates funds to the Police Department.  Fund balance in the amount of $66,500 will be transferred to cover the replacement of an interview room camera system at a cost of $47,000, $4,500 for three additional surveillance cameras for the George Street property, and $15,000 for special operations.  Additionally, the amendment appropriates $240,000 for salary expenditures, which will be funded through $201,500 from contingency and $38,500 from unspent funds budgeted for the election.  A memo from Mr. Sabatelli is attached. (See Backup)
15. Appointment(s).
a) Victor Taylor represented the Board of Aldermen on the New Bern-Craven County Public Library Board of Trustees.  The Board is asked to make an appointment to replace Mr. Taylor.  The new appointee shall serve as a trustee for the duration of their term of office.  The Library Board meets the first Tuesday of alternate months beginning with February.  The meetings begin at 7:30 p.m. and are held at the library.  Any Board member who is absent for more than three consecutive meetings during the year will be removed from the Board. (See Backup)
b) Based on the rotation schedule, Alderman Best is asked to make an appointment to the Appearance Commission.    The number of members on this commission was recently increased from five to seven, and one of these positions is unfilled. The Ordinance provides appointees shall be residents of the City’s planning and zoning jurisdiction and shall, when possible, have had special training or experience in a design field such as architecture, landscape design, horticulture, city planning, or a closely-related field.  Members of the Appearance Commission serve a three-year term.  The commission currently holds its meetings at 6 p.m. on the second Thursday of each month at Parks and Recreation’s administrative offices. (See Backup)
c) Peggy Broadway’s term on the Appearance Commission will expire March 1, 2018.  Appointments are made on a rotating basis, and Alderman Odham is asked to fill this seat.  Pursuant to the ordinance, appointees shall be residents of the City’s planning and zoning jurisdiction and shall, when possible, have had special training or experience in a design field such as architecture, landscape design, horticulture, city planning, or a closely-related field.  Members of the Appearance Commission serve a three-year term.  The commission currently holds its meetings at 6 p.m. on the second Thursday of each month at Parks and Recreation’s administrative offices. (See Backup)
d) The Board is asked to appoint a representative to the Highway 17 Association. While Bernard White previously represented the City in this capacity, appointees are not restricted to elected officials and can be a member of the local government’s management team or staff.  Meetings are held quarterly, usually on the fourth Wednesday of the month from 10 a.m. to 12 noon, followed by lunch.  The meeting location rotates within the Hwy. 17 corridor area.  The next two meetings are scheduled for April 18th and June 27th(See Backup)
16. Attorney’s Report.
17. City Manager’s Report.
18. New Business.
19. Closed Session.
20. Adjourn.

Posted in Aldermen, Board of Aldermen, Mayor

January 24th, 2018 by newbernpostadmin

So what did you do on Jan. 1? City workers spent the day rerouting sewer lines and stabilizing the sink hole in a round-the-clock operation that resulted in no interruption of service and no sewage leaked into the Neuse River just a hundred yards from it.

Sometime between Christmas and New Year’s Day, a sewer pipe gave up its 56-year battle against erosion and the forces of hydrogen sulfide. It gave way and the ensuing damage left a 50-foot sinkhole near the National Guard Armory on Glenburnie Drive.

This wasn’t any sewer pipe. It was the Grand Central Station of sewer pipes, channeling the entire output of New Bern’s toilets and showers to the wastewater treatment plant at the end of Glenburnie Drive near Glenburnie Park.

City Engineer Jordan Hughes was proud of the city’s response to the crisis, and justifiably so.

Repairing the damage and replacing the old infrastructure, which was installed in 1961, is costing the city $432,000. Aldermen approved the expenditure at their meeting on Tuesday.

“That’s big money, but it was a big problem,” Hughes said.

The failed section of sewer main was one of the last sections remaining from the original 1961 installation. The city would have gotten around to replacing it, too, until events forced their hand.

Posted in Aldermen, Board of Aldermen, Mayor, Public works

January 24th, 2018 by newbernpostadmin

Two gateways into downtown New Bern are going to look a lot different within the next year or so.

First Street, which is also N.C. 55, is going to be reconfigured from four lanes (two in each direction) to two traffic lanes and a center turn lane. Sidewalks will be added as well as bike lanes on both sides of the street. City aldermen approved the plan at their meeting on Tuesday night.

Meanwhile, a traffic circle is proposed to replace the Y-intersection at Neuse and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. boulevards. That project could begin in October.

Both plans have controversial predecessors on Broad Street, where a traffic circle and a so-called “Road Diet” have had mixed success.

Broad Street, which was once U.S. 70 and along the main route from inland to Atlantic Beach and Pamlico County, was converted from four lanes to two back in 2009. A traffic circle was added not long before that at the intersection of Broad and East Front streets.

The reduced lane count has caused traffic problems on Broad Street, and short left-turn pockets have rendered left-turn traffic signals mostly useless. But unlike the First Street Road Diet plan, Broad Street does not have a center turn lane. Engineers say that center turn lane will make all the difference by getting left-turning cars out of the way of through traffic and improving safety.

First Street is notoriously unsafe the way it is presently configured, and traffic accidents occur several times a week.

The traffic circle at the end of Broad Street is too small to allow tractor-trailers to safely use it, whereas the traffic circle planned for the Neuse/MLK intersection will be built to accommodate bigger vehicles and more traffic.

Still, the First Street Road Diet plan was approved by some aldermen who felt they had little choice, particularly Ward 1 Alderman Sabrina Bengel.

The First Street project is one in a long list of improvements along that gateway corridor intended to check a lot of boxes, and is the linchpin for state and federal funding for some of them.

Adding sidewalks and bike lanes will enable people without cars easier access to an ever-improving Lawson Creek Park and the Volt Center on First Street.

The Volt Center, a collaboration between the city of New Bern and Craven Community College, is located in the old city electric plant and warehouse facility, and will be used for training courses in skilled trades including plumbing, carpentry, heating and air conditioning, small engine repair and electrical work. Classes are set to begin in late spring 2018.

Meanwhile, as reported in the Sun Journal, an N.C. Department of Transportation public meeting to discuss a future traffic circle at the intersection of Neuse and Dr. M.L. King Jr. boulevards has been scheduled for Feb. 8 at the Grover C. Fields Middle School.

NCDOT proposes to replace the Y-intersection with a traffic circle that, according to New Bern Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) director Kim Maxey, will improve traffic conditions near CarolinaEast Medical Center.

“We thought that intersection is a little awkward with the number of lights and access to medical personnel,” she told the Sun Journal.

The informal meeting will be 5 to 7 p.m. in the school’s auditorium. NCDOT representatives will be there to answer questions and receive public comments.

Posted in Aldermen, Board of Aldermen, Mayor, Planes Trains and Automobiles

January 10th, 2018 by newbernpostadmin

A plan called a “Road Diet” to reduce First Street from four to two lanes with a center turn lane was postponed on Tuesday by the two rookie aldermen in whose district the project is located.

The subject will come up again at the board’s Jan. 23 meeting.

Ward 3 Alderman Bobby Aster said he knew little about the project but was getting feedback from his constituents who were expressing reservations.

The project, a team effort by the City of New Bern and N.C. Department of Transportation, which has jurisdiction over the street, would cost about $1 million, of which the city would be responsible for $260,000, using a combination of city funds and grants.

In addition to reducing the lanes, it would resurface the street, and add bike paths and sidewalks on both sides. The newly configured street would stretch from Neuse Boulevard/Broad Street to Pembroke Avenue in the Pembroke community.

The city’s primary responsibility would be to maintain the sidewalks and relocate any utilities necessary to make way for the project.

Said Aster, “I would like to postpone it until the Jan. 23 meeting to learn more about it and find out about it from the constituents.”

A delay in any decision of two weeks would not have an impact on the project, which still needs state approval. A state-level meeting is scheduled for early February and the First Street Road Diet is on the agenda.

But if aldermen were to reject the plan or postpone any decision once again, that would delay the project.

Speaking during the public petitions portion of the aldermen meeting Tuesday, Tom Braaten, a retired Marine major general and retired Coastal Carolina Regional Airport director, expressed concerns about the Road Diet plan.

He said First Street can get congested at times, particularly with events at Lawson Creek, Twin Rivers YMCA, or Temple Baptist Church. Two right turn lanes at the U.S. 70 offramp would have to merge into one lane. A sharp curve in the street limits visibility. First Street is the main alternate street should the bridge be out of operation. And finally, aldermen who were not part of the plan are being asked to approve it, Braaten said.

Like Aster, Ward 1 Alderman Sabrina Bengel said she would like to get more feedback from citizens before making a decision.

The Road Diet project has been discussed for most of a year after being pitched by N.C. DOT officials. An undivided four-lane surface street is considered unsafe due to confestion, turns and intersections, and a Road Diet would address those concerns as well as beautify a major entry into the downtown.

The reduced lane count could accommodate up to 20,000 trips along First Street per day, City Manager Mark Stephens said. First Street handles between 6,000 and 8,000 trips per day now.

The addition of bike lanes and sidewalks would make it easier and safer for low-income residents to get about, Stephens said.

“If it doesn’t work, all you’re dealing is is restriping, which is maybe $15,000 or $20,000,” Stephens said.

Posted in Aldermen, Board of Aldermen, Mayor Tagged with:

January 10th, 2018 by newbernpostadmin

A tradition within the New Bern Fire Department and its ancestors since 1879, threatened by a row over former mayor Lee Bettis, is now no longer a habit, a tradition, or a whim — it’s city law.

Aldermen passed a resolution on Tuesday making it official city policy to add the name of the mayor in office when a fire truck is authorized for purchase. The policy gives a mayor the option to decline the honor.

The resolution passed on a vote of 5-2, with Mayor Dana Outlaw and Alderman Jeffrey Odham voting against the measure.

The controversy arose when the previous Board of Aldermen ordered Lee Bettis’ name removed from a fire truck that was bought when he was in office. Bettis later served time in jail for driving recklessly under the influence of a prescription drug while his stepchildren were in the car.

At the time, members of the board thought having the name on a fire truck of a mayor who served time in jail was inappropriate.

Bettis’ name was restored to the fire truck last month after new board members, led by Ward 1 Alderman Sabrina Bengel, voted as a bloc, joined by Alderman Johnnie Ray Kinsey.

There was no discussion among aldermen during Tuesday’s agenda item. But earlier in the meeting, during the public comment and petitions portion of the meeting, two members of the public spoke on behalf of keeping the tradition intact.

They included Buddy Wetherington, past volunteer fire chief and member of the Button Volunteer Fire Department (like his father), thanked aldermen who voted to maintain the longtime tradition.

The department has many traditions, he said, and asked the board to keep the naming tradition intact.

Richard Blythe, who joined the fire department in 1977 and was chief of volunteers for three terms, said the naming has been a tradition for years and years. “I just wish the board would see kind enough to leave it that way,” he said.

Posted in Aldermen, Board of Aldermen, Mayor, New Bern Fire Department

January 10th, 2018 by newbernpostadmin

A plan that includes enforced two-hour parking in Downtown New Bern cleared a hurdle on Tuesday.

Following a public hearing during which a committee’s recommendations went largely unchanged, the board asked its staff to prepare an ordinance and bring it back for a vote at the board’s first meeting in February.

A committee met over several months in 2017 to come up with ways to solve a perceived problem with downtown parking, with any decisions on the committee’s recommendations put off until the Board of Aldermen’s first meeting in January to enable new aldermen to weigh in on the issue.

Alderman Sabrina Bengel, whose ward includes all of downtown New Bern, led the discussion. While she had some concerns about how much the city ought to charge for leased spaces, she agreed with most of the recommendations.

They include enforced two-hour parking; an increase in parking fines from $5 to $25, doubling to $50 if not paid within 30 days; and improved directional signage directing motorists to city lots on Hancock Street, South Front Street and at the Farmers’ Market.

Notable what the plans do not include is paid street side parking or a push for a parking structure.

Bengel estimated that there are 200 parking spaces downtown that go unused. “We don’t have a parking problem, we have a walking problem,” she said, describing people unwilling to walk an extra block or two to take advantage of areas where there is a surplus of available parking.

Alderman Jeffrey Odham expressed concerns about picking and choosing pieces of the committee’s recommendations, which he said were intended to look at the problem of downtown parking holistically.

He said his big concern is picking and choosing from the committee recommendations just to get the ball rolling, but creating a bigger parking problem six months down the road.

Previous coverage

 

Posted in Aldermen, Board of Aldermen, Mayor, New Bern, New Bern business and commerce Tagged with:

January 5th, 2018 by newbernpostadmin

First off, the obvious

Things are getting back to normal now that the holidays are behind us.

Just kidding. With snow and ice blanketing the region, it’s like having an extra week off for the Christmas break. Schools have been closed since Wednesday. So much of New Bern was shut down on Thursday, it nearly felt like Christmas Day.

Though we were well supplied with food, cabin fever drove us from the house and we thank the folks at Sonic and Piggly Wiggly for braving the weather and serving our needs. Other businesses were open, too … these are just the two we happened to visit.

There was enough snow that sledders had more than enough for two full days of sledding on the U.S. 70/Country Club Road interchange, with more sledding days likely through the weekend.

And Tyson makes two

Craven County Commissioner Steve Tyson announced on his Facebook wall that he will not be seeking reelection this year. Scott Dacey is also not running for county commissioner, instead seeking to unseat U.S. Rep. Walter Jones.

Beneath a picture of a torch being passed, Tyson said this on his Facebook wall:

I want to thank the citizens of Craven County for allowing me the privilege of serving as one of their County Commissioners for the past eleven years. It has been a wonderful experience and I feel like we, meaning the County Board and the 650 County employees, staff and department heads that work for the County, have accomplished quite a lot during my tenure. I have enjoyed working with all of the other Commissioners despite at times not always in agreement with them on all issues. When we disagreed on one issue we moved on to the next issue without remorse.

It is with some sadness that I am announcing that I will not seek reelection next year. I will have served 12 years when I finish my current term and It is time to pass the torch. The County is well managed and in excellent financial condition.

I utilized my 35 years of business experience and exercised a businesslike approach in my decision-making for the County government and I would hope my successor will also take that approach.

When my term is up I will forever remain a cheerleader and advocate for the city and County in which I was born and love.

Again, thanks for your past support, and may 2018 be a blessed year to all.

Tyson will undoubtedly remain busy. He is a Realtor, owns an inn, hosts a weekly TV program, is an amateur historian. Am I missing anything? I feel as though I am missing a lot.

 

Things get rolling

The first Board of Aldermen meeting of the new year, and the first full meeting of the newly constituted board, is on Tuesday, and its agenda is just packed with interesting stuff. Packed!

Highlights include:

Public hearing on recommendations from the Master Parking Plan Advisory Committee. At least one alderman, Sabrina Bengel, has expressed reservations about at least a portion of the recommendations. Fun fact: a member of the committee, downtown New Bern businessman Buddy Bengel, is her son.

Discussion of potential lease of the old Firemen’s Museum building at 408 Hancock St. It’s an interesting series of twists. The previous board sped (synonym for “bum’s rush”) the Firemen’s Museum’s departure from the building ostensibly to sell the property during a period which the city sought to shed surplus properties. But in the end the city could not sell the building. A group of local artists, meanwhile, approached the board hoping to lease the building. Now it looks like the building could be taken over by Parks & Recreation.

Consider adopting a policy for naming city fire trucks. The city started doing this in 1879, but Mayor Dana Outlaw expressed doubt whether that long tradition is actually a policy.

Consider a resolution leading to reducing First Street from four lanes to two (“Road Diet”). The latest trend among transportation boffins is not to add lanes to accommodate more city traffic, but to reduce lanes. It makes surface streets safer, they say.

Speaking of fire trucks

Alderman Jeffrey Odham had a poll on his Facebook page that ended Friday. Here is the question (more of a leading statement, really) and the results:

New Bern has a long tradition of putting the sitting Mayor’s name on fire trucks purchased while they are in office. Most are aware of the controversy surrounding this tradition due to the issues of the former Mayor. Evidently there are two Aldermen that feel we should issue a resolution supporting this tradition. Some of the ideas that hat (sic) have been discussed are a Fireman of the Year from within the NBFD, honor fallen firefighters, name them after non-profits throughout the community, etc.

27%Keep the tradition

73%Do something different

171 Votes

In the interest of full disclosure, I had to vote in the poll in order to see the results. I was among the 27 percent who voted to keep the tradition.

Pat Schaible phoned home

In response to my commentary, Why New Bern’s ward system is necessary, a sitting alderman and a former alderman weighed in.

The two focused on a particular passage in the commentary:

So what did (former alderman E.T.) Mitchell accomplish during her year as an alderman?

She worked on goals set out for her by the mayor and other members of the board (which means, mainly, Ward 6 Alderman Jeffrey Odham).

On its face that sounds great, but it put her in a sort of unique position on the board: no other alderman or the mayor had their agenda set for them by other members of the board.

While Ward 3 may have been represented, it was the only ward during that year whose alderman’s main purpose was accomplishing tasks set out for her by aldermen from other wards.

Alderman Jeffrey Odham took issue, leading to the following exchange between him and me:

Odham: Randy, I’m curious as to what you mean when you say that Alderman Mitchell worked on goals laid out for her by the mayor and other board members, mainly me. What do you mean by that exactly and where do you get that idea

Me: She said so in her final comments on the board.

Odham: 

Interesting. I’ll have to go back and watch ch because I don’t recall those comments. Thanks for bringing it to light. Although I don’t remember setting out any specific goals and objectives for Alderman Mitchell. She came in with her own agenda for Ward 3 based on things her and Alderman Schaible had discussed (flashing lights at Taberna, widening of Old Airport Road, etc.)

Former alderman Pat Schaible chimed in, as well. She was the alderman who resigned and who was replaced by Mitchell. Schaible wrote:

Alderman Odham is correct in that I had lengthly conversations with Alderman Mitchell about the concerns of Ward 3 (including the flashing lights at Taberna and the widening of Airport Road). In fact, I gave Alderman Mitchell my entire file cabinet with everything fully documented.

Comments and Tips for Friday free-for-all

Posted in Aldermen, Board of Aldermen, Craven County Board of Commissioners, Mayor, New Bern, New Bern business and commerce, New Bern Fire Department

January 5th, 2018 by newbernpostadmin

January 9, 2018 Agenda and Explanations 

1.   Meeting opened by Mayor Dana E. Outlaw.  Prayer Coordinated by Alderman Bengel.  Pledge of Allegiance.
2.   Roll Call.
3.   Request and Petition of Citizens.
This section of the Agenda is titled Requests and Petitions of Citizens.  This is an opportunity for public comment, and we thank you for coming to the Board of Aldermen meeting tonight to share your views.  We value all citizen input.

Speaker comments are limited to a maximum of 4 minutes during the public comment period.  At the conclusion of 4 minutes, each speaker shall leave the podium.  Comments will be directed to the full board, not to an individual board member or staff member.  Although the board is interested in hearing your comments, speakers should not expect any comments, action or deliberation from the board on any issue raised during the public comment period.
In the board’s discretion, it may refer issues to the appropriate city officials or staff for further investigation.  If an organized group is present to speak on a common issue, please designate one person to present the group’s comment, which shall be limited to a maximum of 4 minutes.
Consent Agenda
4.   Approve Minutes.
Minutes from the December 12, 2017 meeting are provided for review and approval.
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5.   Recognition of Graduates from Citizens Police Academy.
Graduates of the recent Citizens Police Academy will be in attendance to give an overview of their experience.  The latest academy marked the 21st session that has been conducted. (See Backup)
6.   Recognition of 2017 Badge, Faith and Fun Day Coordinators.
Badge, Faith and Fun Day was held on September 16, 2017 at Lawson Creek Park. The event was a one-day festival aimed at bringing the community together with the New Bern Police Department in a neutral, fun environment.  Event coordinators will be recognized, which included the following:  Copy and Print Warehouse, Chris Goodgin, Armstrong’s Grocery, Piggly Wiggly, Three Guys Signs, Publix, Craven Coffee House, Cotton Funeral Home, the Sun Journal, CTV-10, KISS-FM 102, Civitans, Boy Scouts of America Troop 299, NBPD Volunteers, Inc., Bender Apparel, Bouncin’ Time Rentals, New Bern Sporting Goods, Bear Towne Tents, Pastor Hazel Royal, Father Thomas Tully, Dana Tabbarini, Dr. James Herring, and Minges Bottling Group. (See Backup)
7.   Presentation of and Conduct Public Hearing on Recommendations from Master Parking Plan Advisory Committee.
The Master Parking Plan Advisory Committee (“MPPAC”) made a presentation before the Board of Aldermen at the Board’s work session on November 21, 2017.  The presentation included a list of recommendations relative to parking issues in the downtown area.  One of the recommendations was for the Board of Aldermen to conduct a hearing for the purpose of obtaining public input on the subject of parking and the proposed recommendations.  Members of the MPPAC will be in attendance to again share the presentation, after which the Board is asked to open the floor for public comment.  A copy of the presentation is provided. (See Backup)
8.   Presentation of Comprehensive Annual Financial Report and Fiscal Year 2016-17 Audit.
Copies of the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (“CAFR”) and Auditor’s Discussion and Analysis will be distributed to the Board prior to the meeting on January 9th.  A representative from Mauldin & Jenkins, the firm that performed the City’s audit, will be present to discuss the findings of the CAFR and audit.  This report will also be made available on the City’s website on January 10, 2018. (See Backup)
9.   Discussion of Potential Lease of 408 Hancock Street.
(Ward 1) At the December 12, 2017 meeting, the Board discussed the potential lease of 408 Hancock Street to Community Artist Will, Inc., a local nonprofit that sells art, offers classes, etc.  Their initial offer proposed a base rent of $1,200 monthly for a three-year term with conditions that the City complete specific alterations to the building.  A later discussion evolved around a 5-year lease at a rate of $500.00 month with the lessee maintaining the interior of the building and the City maintaining the exterior and HVAC system.  It was also suggested a public component be included to provide for the nonprofit to work with Craven Arts Council to promote and educate the arts to school-age children, provide programming and space for the City’s Parks and Recreation summer youth program, and promote the building as a community arts center.
At the December 12th meeting, the Board voted to form an ad hoc group consisting of Aldermen Bengel, Harris and Aster to meet with Community Artist Will, Craven Arts Council & Gallery, and Foster Hughes, Director of Parks and Recreation.  The outcome of those meetings was to be reported to the Board at its January 9th meeting.
As a reminder, NC General Statute §160A-272 requires a 30-day notice be provided on any leases with a term greater than one year. (See Backup)
10. Discussion of Possible Ordinance Amendment for Cul-de-sac Radius Requirements.
Previous ordinances allowed for a cul-de-sac radius to be 63’ in cases where an island is not provided and 80’ in cases where a planting island is placed in the center of the cul-de-sac.  The Board since adopted Appendix D of the NC Fire Prevention Code, which provides for a recommended cul-de-sac radius of 96’.  Some developers have expressed concerns regarding the newly-required size for cul-de-sacs and associated costs.  The intent of the 96’ radius was to allow for a fire apparatus to make turnarounds in the cul-de-sac without having to back up; thus, reducing response times.  Fire Chief Boyd and Jeff Ruggieri, Director of Development Services, will be available to discuss this further and answer any questions. (See Backup)
11. Consider Adopting a Resolution Approving a Policy for Naming of Fire Apparatus.
Beginning in 1879, New Bern’s fire engines were traditionally named for the Mayor seated in office at the time the purchase of an engine was approved.  The proposed resolution will establish a policy to carry this tradition forward.  The resolution does provide an option for the Mayor to respectfully decline the honor, if so desired.  In such event, the apparatus would remain unnamed. (See Backup)
12. Consider Adopting a Resolution Approving an Agreement with East Carolina University for an Internship Training Program.
The City desires to enrich its internship training program through an educational relationship with East Carolina University (“ECU”) and its students by providing appropriate learning experiences to students who are enrolled in ECU’s internship programs.  Internship opportunities will be consistent with the City’s existing internship policy.  A memo from Sonya Hayes, Director of Human Resources, is attached. (See Backup)
13. Consider Adopting a Resolution Approving a Transportation Improvement Project – Municipal Agreement with NC Department of Transportation Under Project 47112.3.1.
(Wards 1 and 3) This agreement is for the First Street Road Diet project.  The terms of the agreement provide for NCDOT to design and construct the entirety of the road diet, which will reduce four travel lines to three and will add bike lanes and sidewalks along First Street from Neuse Boulevard to Pembroke Avenue.  Upon completion of the project, the City will reimburse DOT $260,000.00 of the cost.  Additionally, the City will assume maintenance of the sidewalks and will relocate and adjust all City-owned utilities that conflict with the project.  A memo from Jeff Ruggieri, Director of Development Services, is attached. (See Backup)
14. Consider Adopting a Resolution to Initiate the Upset Bid Process for 1111 Williams Street.
(Ward 5) Amanda Hurst has submitted an offer of $1,000.00 for the purchase of a vacant lot at 1111 Williams Street.  The offer represents 25% of the tax value, which is $4,000.00.  The property was acquired by the City and Craven County in March 2008 through tax foreclosure.  At the time of foreclosure, taxes were due to the County in the amount of $3,850.42 and $3,726.69 to the City.  The foreclosure costs totaled $2,273.83, and the City also incurred $3,200.00 in demolition costs.
If no other bids are received and the property is sold for the initial offer, the County will receive $528.63 and the City will receive $471.37.  The City will also be reimbursed the cost to advertise the offer.  Attached is a breakdown of the anticipated proceeds as provided by the City Attorney and a memo from the City Clerk. (See Backup)
15. Consider Adopting a Resolution to Initiate the Upset Bid Process for 1112 Grace Street.
(Ward 5) Amanda Hurst has submitted an offer of $1,000.00 for the purchase of a vacant lot at 1112 Grace Street.  The offer represents 25% of the tax value, which is $4,000.00.  The property was acquired by the City and Craven County in March 2008 through tax foreclosure.  Foreclosure costs totaled $2,098.71.  At the time of foreclosure, taxes were due in the amount of $1,810.41 to the County and $6,849.70 to the City, of which $4,750.00 represents a demolition lien.
If no other bids are received and the property is sold for the initial offer, the County will receive $543.10 and the City will receive $456.90.  The City will also be reimbursed the cost to advertise the offer.  Attached is a breakdown of the anticipated proceeds as provided by the City Attorney and a memo from the City Clerk. (See Backup)
16. Consider Adopting a Resolution Approving a Code of Ethics for the Board of Aldermen.
NC General Statue §160A-86 requires local governing boards to adopt a resolution or policy approving a code of ethics.  The proposed code of ethics is the same as one previously adopted by the City and meets with the City Attorney’s approval. (See Backup)
17. Consider Adopting a Resolution Approving Rules of Procedure for the Board of Aldermen.
At its December 12, 2017 meeting, the Board voted to begin its regular meetings at 6 p.m. instead of 7 p.m.  As a result, the Board’s Rules of Procedure must be amended to reflect this change. (See Backup)
18. Consider Adopting an Ordinance Amending Section 2-41 of Chapter 2, Article II, Division 2 Regarding the Board of Aldermen’s Regular Meetings.
Similar to the previous item, this amendment will revise the existing ordinance to reflect the change in time from 7 p.m. to 6 p.m. for the Board’s regular meetings. (See Backup)
19. Consider Adopting an Amendment to Part IV “Appearance Commission” of Article III, Appendix A of the “Land Use” Ordinance.
The ordinance pertaining to the Appearance Commission currently requires five members be appointed to the commission.  To comply with state statute, the proposed amendment will increase the number of members to seven.  All members shall be residents of the City’s planning and zoning jurisdiction at the time of appointment.  For reference, attached are copies of state statutes pertaining to appearance commissions.  The City Attorney will answer any questions the Board may have. (See Backup)
20. Appointment(s).
a) As reflected in the previous item, the Appearance Commission will now consist of seven members instead of five.  As a result, two additional appointments are needed.  Appointees shall be residents of the City’s planning and zoning jurisdiction and shall, when possible, have had special training or experience in a design field such as architecture, landscape design, horticulture, city planning, or a closely-related field.  Members of the Appearance Commission serve a three-year term. (See Backup)
b) Victor Taylor represented the Board of Aldermen on the New Bern-Craven County Public Library Board of Trustees.  The Board is asked to make an appointment to replace Mr. Taylor.  The new appointee shall serve as a trustee for the duration of their term of office.  The Library Board meets the first Tuesday of alternate months beginning with February.  The meetings begin at 7:30 p.m. and are held at the library.  Any Board member who is absent for more than three consecutive meetings during the year will be removed from the Board. (See Backup) 
21. Attorney’s Report.
22. City Manager’s Report.
23. New Business.
24. Closed Session.
25. Adjourn.

Posted in Aldermen, Board of Aldermen, Mayor

December 28th, 2017 by newbernpostadmin

The following chart is the salary and travel allowance provided to each board member:

The Fiscal Year 2017/18 budget includes $2,000 for travel and training and $1,000 special appropriation for discretionary spending for each Board Member.  As board members, they are also eligible to participate in the Employee Health Benefits plan.

Although not a compensated item, the entire Board has city-issued iPads. The mayor (Dana Outlaw) and aldermen from Wards 2 (Jamee Harris), 3 (Bobby Aster), 4 (Johnnie Ray Kinsey) and 6 (Jeffrey Odham) have accepted city-issued cell phones. Aldermen Sabrina Bengel and Barbara Best have not opted for for city-issued cell phones.

Posted in Aldermen, Board of Aldermen, Mayor Tagged with:

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