Thursday, September 27, 2007

The N&O left me out !

For some reason, the N&O can't seem to get my questionnaire online.

It was completed and received weeks ago. I called them Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

So here it is :

Raleigh City Council At- large

Helen Tart

51, Dunn, NC, August 1956

Currently a part-time reader/scorer of end of year writing tests at Measurement Inc. in Durham. From January 1980 until November 2006, a Pagetech in the Production Department of the News and Observer.

BA in English /Writing and Editing Option, North Carolina State University, 1982

Democrat. Appointed by the Raleigh City Council to the Raleigh Transit Authority (the governing body for Capital Area Transit) as a member in 1998 and then in 2000 as chairperson, served until 2003.

Guided the creation Oakwood Dog Park and the Friends of the Off-Leash Dog Park at Oakwood Park (FOLDPOP) and continue, with my husband, to oversee the day-to-day activities in the park; one of the founding members of Oakwood Park Community Watch; member of Oakwood Park Neighborhood Plan Task Force and the North Central CAC; Ten Thousand Villages volunteer; Sierra Club member; former steering committee member of Triangle Smart Growth Coalition; former board member of the North Carolina Alliance for Transportation Reform (NCATR); Raleigh Recycling Block Leader; Festival for the Eno "Trash-free" volunteer; and participated in hundreds of public meetings in my 30 plus years of living in Raleigh.

WHY SHOULD YOU BE ELECTED? (100 words maximum)

I believe my expertise and creativity will benefit the citizens of Raleigh and will help me lead Raleigh into a healthy, sustainable, and prosperous future. As a citizen, I helped complete a Neighborhood Plan that has protected the character of my neighborhood while allowing revitalization of 60 year-old houses. As an activist, I've supported the many organizations that work to safeguard natural systems. As leader of the Raleigh Transit Authority, I initiated public participation efforts that resulted in the 2003 Five-year Transit Plan. My work organizing the Oakwood Dog Park volunteers has convinced me that Raleigh's citizens are willing to help improve the city. I can help them do so.

CONTACT INFORMATION (including Web site, if applicable):

Helen Tart for City Council

611 Monroe Drive

Raleigh, NC 27604


Issues questions

(250 words maximum for each question)

1. Do you believe that the impact fees currently imposed by Raleigh on new development are too high, too low, or at the right level?

I believe Raleigh's impact fees are too low and have been for years. We need to increase impact fees to cover the cost of future growth and to help to pay for costs of the past growth that did not pay its share. Raising impact fees is not the only way to deal with costs of growth, but it is the fastest. Most other revenue sources would require legislative approval. Since other areas of the state and the country are dealing with similar problems, we need to be constantly researching successful strategies.

The real issue is how development should be managed. Some areas have Adequate Public Facilities laws requiring that the public facilities must be in place before new developments are approved. Otherwise police, firefighters and sanitation workers have too large an area to cover effectively; parks become overcrowded with land for new parks getting more and more expensive; inspectors and planners don’t have adequate time to do their jobs; air and water quality are threatened by overworked water and transportation systems.

The City Council has made some courageous decisions to deal with growth. For example, the recent 70% increase in the small existing impact fee, adding the stormwater fee, and the upcoming Comprehensive Plan update that includes protecting environmental resources and linking land use to urban form. However, much more is needed, starting with significantly increasing impact fees.

2. Which aspects of the city's infrastructure, such as roads and parks, need the most attention over the next 10 years?

With the growth that is coming in the next 10 years, all of our infrastructure is going to need attention. As a regular citizen, it is difficult to find out the specific information needed to answer that kind of question. From my perspective, we need better land use planning, more sidewalks, greenways, bike racks and transit service. It is also important to remember that roads, parks, water and sewer systems, and everything else that the city builds requires maintenance.

Good planning is where infrastructure needs begin. Planning allows cities to have the infrastructure ready when it's needed. We have the opportunity to do that. The city of Raleigh is just beginning the update of the city's Comprehensive Plan. We can identify infrastructure needs or focus growth where the infrastructure exists. We'll probably need to do both. Since the plan update will include citizen participation, citizens will be able to learn more about the city's infrastructure.

3. How much money do you think the city should be willing to invest to buy and develop the Dorothea Dix campus?

The question shouldn't be how much, but how. How do we craft a workable public/private partnership, what kind of funding strategies will work best for capital and stewardship needs, or what deals we can make with the State -- those are the questions. I can't imagine the city giving up on this property after the countless hours that citizens (and staff) have put into the effort to craft the best solution for this property. This opportunity has energized thousands of Raleigh citizens to work together to try to figure out the best way to preserve and enhance this property as a major park in the heart of our city. There has to be a way to harness this energy to help the city resolve this issue.

I believe that this property will be such a strong economic engine that it could even help fund some of the mental health needs that the closing of the hospital has left unmet. Countless studies have shown that a park of this quality increases property values in the neighborhoods near it. These increases would benefit not just Boylan Heights, but the neighborhoods across Lake Wheeler Road from the property. Many of these modest homes have been converted into rental units over the years. These houses could be renovated and updated, perhaps even offered to state, city, and county employees at reduced cost before being offered to the general public. This project provides the kind of clear public purpose that Tax Increment Financing is designed to fund.

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