Facebook Post (David Simonton, 6/25/2017)

COUNTERPOINT

Currie Mixon is my across-the-street neighbor, and the petitioner’s brother-in-law. He recently commented on my continuing effort to shine a light on what transpired on Lorimer Road in a post on the Nextdoor Avent West website.

Mixon began his assessment by referring to resident Jeff Essic’s post on the site. Here is Jeff’s concluding paragraph:

“[Those] are some of the reasons why there are folks along the street against the project and why you will probably continue to hear about it until there is at least some acknowledgement that yes, the petition process was flawed, and some meaningful assurance from the city on a lower-impact design.”

Currie’s comment:

“Regarding Jeff Essic’s last paragraph, I’d say it’s impossible to say how much less raving Mr. Simonton would do with any acknowledgement or change. He’s been raving mad about the prospect of a sidewalk from the beginning, and I am of the opinion (you can see for yourself if he ever posts about anything else, he has a hobby website dedicated to opposition to this project, and now FB page…) that his opposition to this project is one that defines him in his eyes.”

I wish that a fraction of the energy spent dividing and conquering this once united neighborhood had been spent for the good of all who live here.

It didn’t have to end up this way. There could have been/should have been a positive, less fraught outcome. That choice was available to the petitioner, her sister and her sister’s husband, but they decided to take another route; with, sadly, the City’s approval.

.  .  .

Comment

Edward F Gehringer:  I generally like sidewalks and have no personal stake in this project, but I would like to commend Mr. Simonton for taking the time to gather evidence and bring it to the attention of the community. That is exactly what citizens should be doing … adducing more evidence so that better decisions can be made. Calling someone “raving mad” and saying that the issue is his “hobby” does nothing to advance harmony or improve decision-making. This issue, like all others, should be settled on its merits, not by trying to shout down minority views.

.  .  .  .  .  .

Donna Burford: The Voice of the People?

“I have been door to door since November of last year talking to almost everyone on this street to see how they felt about a project like this and got a overwhelming positive response. I don’t think you understand that this [is] NOT MY project. This is a Lorimer Rd. project, I was just asked to speak on behalf of the people on Lorimer that obviously didn’t want to be bullied by people like yourself. I don’t know where these people get the idea that I am making them do anything with their property.”

—from Donna Burford’s Facebook post, 9/3/2015

The 1200 Block of Lorimer Rd (North)

 

n-lorimer-II.jpg

On December 1, 2015, a second citizen’s petition was submitted to the Raleigh City Council requesting that the 1200 block of Lorimer Road (above) be removed from the original petition/project.

This petition read:

We, the undersigned property owners of the 1200 block of Lorimer Road, petition the City of Raleigh to remove our block from Resolution (2015) 141, as our block was included in a Property Owner Initiative Petition begun in May 2014 for road construction without our knowledge and without our consent by someone who is not a property owner. We request the opportunity to educate ourselves and learn more about improvement options included in the City of Raleigh Street and Sidewalk Improvement Policy [PDF] as well as the 2030 Comprehensive Plan, so that we may submit our own petition which more accurately reflects the true will of the property owners.

The petition was signed by 10 of the 14 property owners who live on this block. And yet, despite a request by 71% of residents, City Council members rejected the request although the petition document itself states that parts of streets (as opposed to whole streets, as the original petition called for) can be improved:

 

Screen Shot 2016-04-17 at 1.31.10 PM.png

.  .  .  .  .  .

from Facebook:

Shannon BellezzaBut the vocal minority is the majority on your block. Why wasn’t the petition redrawn to exempt the 1200 block?

Like · 1 · September 9, 2015 at 3:30pm · Edited

 

Sharon Moll MixonWhy wasn’t the petition withdrawn to exempt the 1200 block of Lorimer Road? Because no one asked us to do that*. I never received one phone call, text message, or knock on my door. The only correspondence that Donna got was from Jan that CC’d her on a letter. I was taking her concerns to heart by asking the City Council to consider putting the sidewalk on the east side instead of the west side.

Like · September 10, 2015 at 2:44am

 

Sharon Moll MixonWe had the petition in hand until the deadline that it needed to be submitted**. Even after we submitted it there may have been a chance of talking to Kay Crowder with whatever compromise the 1200 block would come up with***. Standing in front of the City Council as a United neighborhood would have gone a lot further in my opinion.

Like · September 10, 2015 at 2:52am

When 1200-block residents did ask, formally, by submitting their own petition to the City Council, the request was rejected.
** In fact, the petition was turned in to the Public Works Department on May 4, 2015, two weeks before it was due.
*** When Kay Crowder was asked directly by a resident at an October 2015 Neighborhood Meeting, “Why didn’t the Council consider splitting out the north end of Lorimer from the petition?” Mrs. Crowder’s (non-)answer was: “The City wants to do whole streets, whole sections at once. Microgaps, where sidewalks stop in the middle of the block, are only trouble to fix later. The City is trying to fix existing ones, and not create any more.” —A microgap is “a missing section of sidewalk anywhere from 25 feet to 300 feet long and often involves a single property owner not wanting a sidewalk crossing in front of his or her property.”

.  .  .  .  .  .

Resident Concerns

Sharon Moll Mixon created a poll, September 12, 2015:

Resident Concerns.png

Comments:

Don Munn Thank you for asking. I actually started a document in the files area, but I’ll gladly transfer my info to the question provided… Perhaps we should not leave it to chance, I’ll add a “None” to make sure everyone gets counted if possible….

Like · September 12, 2015 at 12:29am · Edited

Erin Salmon Thank you, Sharon for doing this.

Like · September 12, 2015 at 1:01am

Erin Salmon In my list of bullet points, I also had: 1)increase in crime with increased foot traffic; 2)pedestrian AND cyclist safety; 3) pros/cons of minor residential road vs. residential road designation, 4) bus stop location

Like · September 12, 2015 at 1:21am

Sam Bellezza I am not sure that sidewalks will bring in increase in foot traffic or crime.

Like · 1 · September 12, 2015 at 7:47am

Erin Salmon I don’t know either. I have been in touch with two of our local police officers, Officer Hathaway and Officer Clarke, to find out more about the level of crime in our neighborhood in order to have some assessments.

Like · September 12, 2015 at 1:38pm

Facebook Posts – September 17-18, 2015

Currie Mixon

September 17, 2015

We have looked into it and have again been told by the City that the only way the sidewalk petition, as passed by the City Council, can be retracted is if 100% of those owners that signed it retract their signature. Does anyone else have a different understanding of the state of this petition?

I think it is great that we have had so much communication about the specific concerns that our neighbors have. Many of them we share. I also hope that we feel more unified by these communications than we are made divided. However, the way it seems to me, there is not really any feasible way to dramatically change what was passed other than design details at this point. I think it’s absolutely worthwhile for us to continue to voice our opinions to the City, unified where we can be, but I also want everyone to have realistic expectations and the information that I have about this project.

Comments

Barbara ScottThank you for conveying what you have learned so clearly.

Like · 1 · September 17, 2015 at 11:04am
Erin SalmonI have been trying to find all the possibilities around a rehearing from calling and emailing the city, as well as using the city’s website. You have been able to get more information than I. Could you tell me who you communicated with directly?
Like · September 17, 2015 at 11:27am · Edited
Currie MixonSharon talked to Donetta Powell.
Like · September 17, 2015 at 1:28pm

Erin SalmonI have also called the Transporation Planning Manager of the city to find out the real process and specific policies around how much input residents have during the design phase and how we make sure our concerns are heard. I echo another sentiment you voiced in a previous post, Currie. My trust in the political process, as well as the city holding to its word of concern for the environment and for protecting established neighborhoods is shaken from this petition specifically.

Like · September 17, 2015 at 11:30am · Edited

Currie MixonI really do find it funny that it seems like you are saying that the petition caused the hard feelings. The petition was the process by which the City sees what kind of support there is for a project. It is not directed at making you upset, David. And should you choose to get upset about it after it was decided, that is unfortunate. But if you feel you are justified in seeking blame, I would challenge you to seek a different perspective.
 Like · September 17, 2015 at 1:37pm
Ryan BarnumSo is going door to door asking all of the people that signed the petition to retract their signatures, and explain that we are all going to work together to come up with a better plan that appeases everybody, out of the question? I think people, given the opportunity to understand the situation and the turmoil this has caused, and knowing it’s not just going to be tossed away completely, would be willing to consider it. I think trying that instead of relying on the speculation that the designers MIGHT work with the homeowners is a better plan.
 Like · 3 · September 17, 2015 at 7:03pm
Erin SalmonThat is exactly what I have been working on, and so far I have spoken directly with 11 out of the 28 signers of the petition to consider just what you have proposed, Ryan. That is also why I organized the meeting for Monday. To fully inform the street and the Kentwood – Bushy Branch Creek neighborhood what our collective options are to address the many needs and concerns that we have.
 Like · 2 · September 17, 2015 at 9:54pm
Currie MixonI can’t help but be skeptical here. It seems like the implication is that the neighborhood is being asked to trust that a new petition for a sidewalk will be developed and spearheaded by someone who does not think a sidewalk is right for the neighborhood. Am I misunderstanding?
 Like · September 18, 2015 at 11:11am
Barbara ScottI think where the city’s petition process breaks down is that it allows anyone with a vested interest in the outcome, one way or another, to present a petition and ask people to sign it. The process would be unbiased if a specialist with no interest in the outcome presented the petition. Someone knowledgeable about the petitioning and design processes and relevant city code. And someone who can answer each person’s questions about the project without personal bias.
 Like · 1 · September 19, 2015 at 9:07am · Edited
 Barbara Scott – So one constructive piece of action for me is to write the city council and tell them that in a city this big with this many competing interests, their investment in hiring a petition specialist might save them a lot of headaches. I imagine that most sidewalk petitions end up with some people feeling disenfranchised and others feeling blamed for getting involved.
Like · September 19, 2015 at 9:14am
Ryan BarnumI understand your skepticism here Currie. I do believe however that there is very little trust in the city doing what’s best for this neighborhood. I have way more trust in the people living here coming together on this matter to compromise and put together a comprehensive plan that is best for the neighborhood and all of us living here. This is something that could be spearheaded not by one anti-sidewalk person, but the collective community as a whole. I think that’s a much better approach than leaving it all to chance and speculation. We have an opportunity now to reverse this and make it right, but that window is closing and I would rather work together with everybody here, than feel like we are all butting heads and harboring resentment towards one another.
 Like · 3 · September 18, 2015 at 11:50am

Shannon BellezzaI agree, Ryan. Currie Mixon, I would say that it is a good indication that you should trust the neighbors that a good deal of the discussion here has focused on alternative sidewalk plans, maybe more so than alternative-to-sidewalk plans. Those who may not have wanted a sidewalk have entertained the possibility of alternative sidewalk plans and have shown that they are open to compromise. I feel that there have been many alternatives suggested (sidewalk and non-sidewalk alternatives) that would be in keeping with the character and aesthetic of the neighborhood.

Like · 2 · September 18, 2015 at 12:17pm · Edited

 

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