State of the City [UPDATE]

Mayor Meeker’s speech is today at noon over at the Progress Energy Center of the Performing Arts. I’m going to update this post later with some thoughts after I watch it. Unfortunately, I cannot go to it so I may have to wait until I get home from work so leave comments on your predictions or for those that went, please leave any reactions or reviews.

It is open to the public and they are also selling lunch.

[UPDATE 3:15pm]
I was able to watch the ‘State of the City’ speech given today by Mayor Meeker online while at work. The speech was nice and short and hit on key topics; some relative to downtown. The drought was the biggest topic, as it should be, and affects everyone in Raleigh. The mayor said that a study with the army corps of engineers has revealed that Falls Lake may be dry by this summer. I know I’ve been watching my water consumption but will start to see if I can do even more. I encourage everyone to do the same.

Here are some downtown highlights:

  • The mayor mentioned the amount of cranes downtown, showing tremendous new developments as well as renovation projects.
  • The Convention Center will open in August; it is fully booked through 2008 and mostly 2009.
  • Transportation will be very important this year. It is time to “get serious” about improving the bus service and creating a rail system.
  • Transit will also change “the old-fashioned way” starting with improvements to sidewalks, lights, and creating pedestrian friendly environments. The mayor mentioned complete streets as a model
  • There will be a focus on urban growth in downtown and along major corridors in the city.
  • The African American Cultural Center is currently in its design phase. Financial details as well as location are still being discussed.
  • There is a downtown parking study underway, results are still a few months away.
  • The mayor stressed energy efficiency in our city lights. There are over 30,000 incandescent bulbs around the city that are planned to be switched over to LED lighting.
  • There will be an Arts Foundation starting with the city putting up to $100,000 a year. The mayor used the new art pieces in Chavis Park and Fred Fletcher Park as examples of what would appear around the city.
  • Dorothea Dix is planning to move most of its beds to the site in Butner in 2Q 2008, but some operations will remain on the site for a little longer. The Dix master plan is favoring a park but it will really come down to what our state officials decide to do with the site (it is state owned property after all).
  • Affordable housing downtown was brought up and it is currently being looked at. No plans as of yet.

The mayor also made a small note about creating destinations around Raleigh, downtown, North Hills, Crabtree were some example. He wanted to light these places up to let people know that this is an important area of the city. He mentioned that the dome of the capitol building is now lit up as of about 2 weeks ago. This explains why I have been looking at the Capitol building at night so funny lately, I never caught this.

It sounds like Raleigh is doing great but our water supply is the biggest concern. If we all can battle through this drought and the city can come up with a plan to solve this issue, then we can finally move on from this 10 month war. It sounds like the mayor has ideas to slow sprawl and attack traffic problems now before they get out of hand. He used Charlotte as an example when talking about transit and how their model was good. I’m glad they got the chance to go out there and see the light rail line personally.

You can watch or read more about the speech (as of 3:07pm) at WRAL and ABC11.