With downtown and neighborhood revitalization on the agenda, we've been used to seeing big-ticket items on the City Council docket this past year: parking decks; multi-million dollar incentives; funding for the Durham Performing Arts Center.
Tonight's big ticket item? A lease agreement with Hanson Southeast allowing the aggregate company access to allow them to lease back a sales area on the former Teer Quarry they sold to the City for $10.00 back in 2004. The City's income on this? One shiny new Susan B. Anthony dollar, per annum.
It's not surprising to have a quiet agenda the night before the election that could change over half the Council's votes; needless to say, there will be a great deal on many's minds.
In any event, once the election's over and the winners sworn in, Messrs. Bell and Stith will no longer share a dais -- which, given the embittered feelings of this election, may not be such a bad thing. Two years ago, the new and returning councilfolk were officially sworn in during the first meeting in December upon the presentation of the certified election results; if this holds to pattern for this year, we'll have a couple of lame-duck work sessions and one Monday night session before the old guard gives way to the new.)
Fittingly, former Durham mayor Harry Rodenhizer will be memorialized in a resolution tonight. Given the nature of some of the remembrances of Durham's former mayor in recent weeks, I somehow think he'd delight in being remembered on the eve of the election of one of his successors. Seems he'd get a kick out of that.
So what's happening tonight? Well, given the extreme drought Durham is facing, expect a great deal of interest in any additional news about the status of the Teer Quarry, and not just where the leaseback arrangement is concerned. The agenda item memo notes that once (likely significant) capital improvements are made to the quarry, it could hold between 1.32 and 1.95 billion gallons of water for public use. (We'll see if tonight's discussion at Council clarifies the curious point in the agenda that there is "currently ongoing cleanup of a nearby groundwater contamination" near the Teer Quarry.)
Besides this, there's not much else to note. Zoning changes to support the CVS store underway out NC 98 in eastern Durham are on the list, as is a vote to hold a public meeting on Nov. 19 about paving Harvard Ave. using assessments of impacted property owners to pay for the work. Also up: St. Lawrence Homes wants to build a 127-lot subdivision on 77 acres out Infinity Rd. near Snow Hill Rd.; the proposal got a unanimous vote from the Development Review Board and comes before Council tonight. A site plan for Palladian Office Park's next phases is also up for discussion.
One oddity on the Council docket: a priority item for Terry Thompson in Public Works to provide an update on streetlight work in North-East Central Durham, a subject of deep interest among residents as a way of helping to reduce crime levels. The topic isn't listed on the agenda, but the PowerPoint presentation is linked off the Council's agenda here. Not sure if it'll come up tonight or is just accidentally there in advance of a future meeting.
The presentation notes that 39 new streetlights have been installed in NECD and 15 repaired since the City focused on the area this spring; 12 trees have been trimmed back by Urban Forestry in cases where foliage was obscuring light levels. Depressingly, Thompson reports the helpful addition of "bulletproof shields" on lights at Bingham St. and Boone Ct.
Of course, NECD lights and NECD police cameras play a small but prominent role for Tuesday's electoral action. We should know Tuesday night whether the lights are coming back up or setting for Mr. Bell's tenure as Durham's mayor.