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BCR's Daily Fishwrap Report for April 27, 2009

  • The Jefferson-Jackson Dinner, an annual confab for N.C. Democrats, will be held in Durham for the first time (and only the second time outside Raleigh.) (See the ad at left for details on tickets.) National party chair Tim Kaine will be the event's keynote speaker for the dinner at downtown's Marriott. (H-S)
  • As we noted here last week, the city has seen slow progress in completing parks & recs projects. A report from construction manager at risk Skanska -- which was hired to oversee a bundle of parks projects -- blamed the city's development review process (as expected) as well as the rampant rise in construction costs during the mid-decade building boom. The latter has led to cycles of re-approaching designers and architects for "value engineering" (cost-cutting efforts) given the fixed prices of projects, a cycle that Skanska claims has delayed projects significantly. Worth a read. (H-S)
  • A separate matter that is a bit harder to pin on a third party: the City's spending rate on the 2007 streets and sidewalks bond has lagged behind the schedule preferred by Federal officials, who prohibit cities from borrowing bond monies and then just collecting interest on them. 10% of bond proceeds have to be spent or committed within six months of a municipality issuing the bond -- but by December, Durham had not met that mark for the $20m streets and sidewalks bond issue. The phased 2005 bond issue is hitting its mark. (H-S)
  • The county's unemployment rate dropped from 8% to 7.7% in March, giving Durham one of the lowest rates in N.C. -- though still just less than twice what it had been a year ago. The H-S notes that the labor force size shrank for the Triangle in the latest report, suggesting that some of the decrease could be due to individuals opting out of the labor force, not finding work. (H-S)
  • The N&O's Elizabeth Shestak has a nice look at the filming of "Main Street," including words from Colin Firth on his pleasant surprise at life in Durham. (N&O)
  • An August crime mapping conference will feature a D.P.D. analyst's presentation on the impact of the Operation Bull's Eye effort in NECD. (H-S) We here at BCR will be curious to see whether by August the presentation includes data to address the lingering question of whether Bull's Eye reduced crime -- or displaced it to other venues outside the target radius.
  • Ann Alexander (a co-founder of the one-time Wellspring grocery stores) has taken over the executive director role at Durham Central Park on an interim basis, taking over for Camille Berry, who left the slot quietly several weeks back. (H-S)
  • As noted here last week, Steven Williams kicked off his long-shot mayoral campaign on Sunday with an announcement downtown. (H-S)

Comments

Reyn Bowman

Actually the event is in the adjacent Durham Civic Center. The Marriott doesn't have meeting space and the Raleigh folks use the hotel name instead of the venue name.

Joseph F.

A couple of weeks ago Norwood Ave. (behind Lakewood Shopping Center), was resurfaced. We talked to the contractors (Barnhill?) who were working at 6:30 pm on a Friday. They said that they had fallen behind because of the rain last year... and becase of slowness from the city side.
But to us what was of most interest was, Why Norwood? It's about a block long, very litle traffic, no thru traffic. It was in fine shape for a neighborhood street. While vitually every street one drives on to get there is much busier and pot-hole filled, (with the exception of the inexplicably wide Morehead between CH and Anderson).
The contractor agreed. He blamed it on "some guy who works for the city, sits at his computer and never goes out on site visits." It made sense to us!

Todd P

@Joseph - Check the city's "Operation Green Light" section of the city website for when the Pavenator may come to a street near you.

Norwood was given a rating of 29 in the 2007 Pavement Condition Survey, a.k.a. "Very Poor". I really can't tell you how the ratings are determined. In my opinion, there are streets rated in the 70's that are worse than streets rated in the 20's in that report.

http://www.durhamnc.gov/departments/works/greenlight/RoadSearchForm_action.cfm

In regard to the story above about the City's incredible slowness in spending street/sidewalk money from the 2007 bond, the delay is pretty much inexcusable. How much engineering, design work, or permitting is needed for street paving? The pavement survey has been done. The DurhamWalks plan is done. What's the hold up?

The next bond issue is going to be harder to sell if the City can't show better progress at spending the currently approved money.


Peggy

@Todd P: Thanks for the link to the city's website.

I actually had a little trouble with it, and found these 2 that might be helpful as well:

http://www.durhamnc.gov/departments/works/greenlight/project_view.cfm
http://www.durhamnc.gov/departments/works/greenlight/street_rate.cfm

I see the streets that are rated and in line for repaving. But does anyone know how I can find out just when they are scheduled to be repaved? (My street is rated a 12, which is why I'm particularly interested.) Also, the completed projects for 2008 include those that used the 2005 bonds. So should we plan on 3 years before paving is completed using the 2007 bonds? I agree with Todd: why bother issuing the bonds if you're not going to use them?

Joseph F.

Thanks Todd,
Great info. And doesn't explain anything of course! I checked a number of streets. And as you said, there are several with a much higher rating, and with much more traffic than Norwood, but are in much worse shape. The ratings must be done be some sort of not very fathomable formula.
It's like the contractor said...someone at his computer who never goes out in the field.
Alas

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