North Main finally getting lampposts replaced.
By David Leone
WAKE FOREST — Town commissioners Tuesday night authorized the sale of up to $2.5 million in revenue bonds to be used to build an electric substation and to improve streetlights on North Main Street.
The projects were approved by commissioners last year.
Upgrades are needed for the J.B. Cole substation on Cedar Avenue, for the town-owned electric system to handle increasing residential and commercial growth. That’s expected to cost $2.2 million.
The other project, one long requested by residents of the North Main Street Historic District, will replace the spotty series of lampposts that provide bright light in places but leave darkened gaps elsewhere.
Since new electric lines will be buried as part of that, the sidewalks will also be replaced. It’s expected to cost approximately $300,000.
“That’s one of most prominent streets,” Mayor Vivian Jones said later. “As well as being safe, it needs to look good, too.”
Before the vote, Commissioner Margret Stinnett voiced her disapproval. On multiple occasions she has questioned reworking lights in one area of town while other areas have long dark stretches at night without any lampposts at all.
“I’m all for the substation stuff,” she said, “but North Main Street lighting gives me heartburn.”
The vote to approve the projects, however, was unanimous.
Commissioners also heard an update about the 1.1-mile Stadium Drive Complete Streets project as recently reported by The Wake Weekly.
The plans, crafted by architectural design contractor Kimley-Horn & Associates, are 30 percent finished.
Sidewalks and paved paths will be added to both sides of the road, connecting to all the existing paths and to future greenways. At Stadium and Wingate Street, the two-way stop will become a roundabout. Just west of the roundabout, a grassy boulevard will divide Stadium for a half-block.
Also, the two-lane portions of Stadium will be three-laned, with a continuous turn lane down the center.
The town is also planning to pave North Avenue, the two-block bit of road between North Main Street and Wingate.
And there are future greenway and bus stop tie-ins. The stops would be upgraded as well, with benches and trash cans added and at least one shelter built along the stretch.
The design work is already funded, paid for in part by government grant. Construction, which is estimated to cost $1.7 million and take place in 2015-16, is slated to be funded as part of the fall bond issue, if voters approve. All but 20 percent of that would be paid for through a Locally Administered Projects Program grant.
“I think it looks great,” said Mayor Vivian Jones. “I’m excited about it.”
For more about the project, see tiny.cc/stadiumwalks.
•Capital improvements: Only one person spoke during a public hearing on the town’s five-year Capital Improvements Plan. Greenways Advisory Board Chair Jan Ammons pointed out that the town is several miles of paths behind the recommendations for greenways drawn up in 2003. Greenways consistently top residents’ choices for recreational needs, she said, adding, “We do need to step up the pace.”
The CIP plans out all spending projects costing $10,000 and above. It’s updated annually before the town manager drafts his budget. Originally slated to voted on the CIP Tuesday, commissioners delayed the vote until 5:30 p.m. on April 1, based on an objection by Stinnett. She did not explain her concern.
•Finding one’s way: Commissioners contracted Kimley-Horn to design a wayfinding (signs and markers) system for the town’s parks and greenways. The consultant will collaborate with the own’s public arts commission to incorporate arts into the system. “I think that this is a great addition to the parks and greenways,” said Stinnett.
•Annexed: The board signed off on several annexations Tuesday, including properties attached to the Wake Forest Crossings shopping center on Capital Boulevard at Stadium Drive that had formerly been omitted. Also annexed was 73 acres on Heritage Branch Road for the previously approved Homstead at Heritage subdivision.
•Stand up and be counted: Last year, Finance Director Aileen Staples gushed at the longstanding contract the town has had with auditor Joyce and Company. But that didn’t stop her from re-evaluating the relationship when the company’s five-year contract expired this year.
Winning the nod for future services is Cherry Bekaert, which bid $42,500 for this year. Joyce bid $43,500 and scored lower on a sliding scale evaluating technical expertise and responsiveness to the proposal, among other qualities.
“Aileen, you got this one right. I applaud you and your staff,” said Commissioner Zachary Donahue.
•Bolstered force: At the close of the meeting, Jones noted that six new police officers had been sworn-in at town hall that day and that several officers had been promoted to corporal — a new designation for the force. The new officers are Dustin d’Hemecourt, Wayne Keeter, Aaron Oringer, Darryl Ragland, Joseph Scott and Jesse VanWinkle.
•Tribute: At the start of the meeting, Mayor Jones commended Senior Planner Agnes Wanman on her retirement from the town after 15 years. Also noting Volunteer Week is April 6-13, she added in a commendation for the volunteers who help the town, including a passel of Youth Advisory Board members who attended Tuesday.
Addressing the youths, who recently held a successful winter coat drive, Stinnett added, “You do not know what great hands the town of Wake Forest is in. It amazes me how bright and brilliant you all are … We appreciate you. The town is a better place because of you.”
•Closed session: At the end of the meeting, commissioners met in closed session to discuss personnel issues. No action was taken.