Raleigh leaders consider ways to improve downtown

Raleigh leaders consider ways to improve downtown

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Raleigh city leaders are still trying to figure out how to spend $1.35 million from the unused capital reserve fund.

Officials want to make sure they invest in the city, but can’t completely agree on how to do it.

It is a growing city with a growing downtown. Municipal leaders have difficult decisions to make to ensure the region continues to thrive, while supporting its population.



For months, leaders have been going back and forth, hoping to focus on cleanliness, safety, wayfinding and public art to bring people downtown and keep them there.

Ideas such as free parking for two hours sounded good to council, but that may no longer be a reality.

Officials learned Tuesday that could mean a loss of $600,000 a year in revenue for the city.

But there is concern that competing destinations nearby may offer things they cannot.

“The reason we went with free weekend parking is because it was hurting our restaurants and businesses. People were like, ‘Oh, I’d rather go to North Hills, or somewhere else,'” Mayor Mary Ann Baldwin said. “So we did this to encourage people to come downtown. »

Debates over using funds to install murals on sidewalks and intersections, make the Moore Square dog park permanent and install trash cans continued for more than an hour Tuesday.

The total cost of the recommendations would be approximately $1.1 million, below budget.

Some council members wanted to move forward, saying it was a priority.

“If we don’t support our downtown, the business owners and people who frequent downtown and the rest of the city will not be successful. The way you keep housing taxes low is that the urban area has to be prosperous. Even if we do everything, it won’t total $1.35 million. There will still be room for other priorities,” said Councilor Jonathan Melton. “We need to focus on safety and cleanliness issues. It’s meat and potatoes.

Others believe that reserve funds should not be used to reorganize the city center.

Councilor Stormie Forte said $4 million is already allocated to the downtown area and the money should be distributed.

“We have the opportunity to spend this money on other things. Council Member (Jane) Harrison brought up a good point about our people being homeless in downtown Raleigh. There are other opportunities,” Forte said. “We want a thriving downtown, I understand that. But in a city as big as ours, there are people who never come downtown, no matter what we do. But there are people who want sidewalks in their communities, and those are risks and safety concerns.

The council decided Tuesday to split the funds to help both the homeless population and downtown renovations.

They plan to make decisions on how much to spend in each area at their May 21 meeting.

The council also unanimously agreed to spend money on ideas from the Fayetteville streetscape study, which includes removing newsstands and increasing lighting.