Improving the Wilmington, NC CBD Experience

Suggestions for improving the overall experience of the Central Business District of Wilmington, NC. Citizen input is welcome! The goal is to improve public property. Private property issues are not adressed here unless there is an issue of health, safety or environmental conern. Comments and suggested issues welcome! As issues are addressed, each post will be updated. Thanks for the input so far. Contact information in the profile.

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Location: Wilmington, North Carolina, United States

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

CDB Experience

The Central Business District (CBD) of Wilmington, NC is home to shops, businesses, residences and attractions for our many visitors and residents. The intent is this BLOG is to improve the overall experience, look, feel and environment of the CDB. This is NOT a forum for criticism of city, county, state or federal government or their employees. The postings here are suggestions for improvement. Comments to posts are welcome.

Apologies to those whole feel this is not politically correct.

Some of the suggestions are short term, other medium or long term. For long term planning, please refer to the City of Wilmington Vision 2020 plan.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

1 Way or the Wrong Way?

North Front Street is a charming and pedestrian-friendly street. There is a proposal to make the street a 2 way street. This will result in the loss of the landscaping, sitting/gathering areas and make crossing the street more difficult.

The argument for the change is to give motorists a better view of businesses on the "other" side of the street. Merchants need to rethink this. The loss of pedestrian traffic will probably not be offset by increased motor traffic, since the move will also probably result in fewer on-street parking spaces.

Compare North Front to South Front, are motorists really cruising for places to shop, or just "on the way" somewhere?

There's a petition against the change Click Here to Sign

More from the Star News

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Dark Alley - Update 02/06

The Alley in the 200 block of N Front, which connects to N 2nd is dark. 4 of the lights are out, one pole tilts and another is broken. Who maintains, the City or Progress Energy? The alley doesn't have a name and doesn't show on the tax records as a private alley. Shed some light.

Reported to Progress Energy Jan, 06. Within a few days, all poles in the alley were marked with Yellow "Under Repair" Tape.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

The City is Not an Ashtray

The city streets, sidewalks, planters, Riverwalk, etc. are used as ashtrays. Businesses and the city can sponsor more ashtrays. Several businesses have flower pots with sand for butt disposal. The community college has placed cigarette filter disposal stations (cost in the $60 to $100 range) in the smoking areas and the sidewalks seem to have fewer butts on the ground in the general area.

Smokers may act more responsibly if there are more places to dispose of cigarette butts. Sweeping them into the gutters just turns the river into an ashtray.

Stuck Up

After a public awareness campaign in 2004, the numerous fliers posted on public property greatly diminished. Slowly, the rules are being ignored.

City code:Sec. 16-194. Defacing poles.
It shall be unlawful for any person to deface or injure by cutting, daubing with paint, posting of bills on or otherwise, any telegraph, telephone, electric light or power pole in any street or public place of the city; provided.

Businesses need to be responsible for the fliers, offenders need to be cited and citizens must continue to take them down when seen.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Sticky Situation

In spite of a citizen sweep this past summer and some ongoing maintenance, the stickers are starting to reappear on light poles, garbage cans and elsewhere.

Citizens can fight this pollution by pulling them off. The city could, at least, removed some of them when putting up the holiday decorations.

The one on the Market Street sign has been there for over a year.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Adopt a Block

This is a "seed" idea, comments, suggestions welcome.

Business, individuals, civic groups etc. would adopt a street block in the downtown area, e.g. the 100 block of N Front. The responsible party would commit to looking after the block. The proud "parent" of the block should check weekly or more often for illegal fliers & stickers posted on city property and vacant store fronts. Pick up litter that may have been missed by the litter patrol, report damaged city property to the property authority. Coordinate a block wash day with the city by arranging for spigots on the fire hydrants so businesses could power wash the sidewalks and store fronts.

In general, help make the the city a better place.

A Road Less Travelled *** In Progress

Lonely Nutt Street is a road less travelled. It runs from Chestnut to Walnut, parallel to Water and Front. A few business have entrances from Nutt Street. The street is obviously ignored and rarely maintained. From a clogged storm drain, to garbage which remains in the street until a strong rain storm washes it into a working storm drain.

Late night bar hoppers use this dark street as a cut through and trash dump. Nov 2005. Someone made a trash sweep this past weekend and the major trash is gone. The lonely street still needs some city attention and regular trash sweeps. Nov 16, 2005 The Storm Water Division just clean out one of the clogged storm drains.

Early Present!

The holiday decorations are going up early and the merchants of downtown have received jolly good news. The City of Wilmington will host its 3rd Annual Wilmington Holiday Parade on Sunday December 11, 2005. Area bands, community groups and businesses will participate in this festive event. Parade Route

The Parade has been held on Saturdays, with street closures beginning at 4pm. The early closures meant loss of business and disruption of traffic during the prime holiday shopping season.

Thanks to whomever convinced the city to change the schedule!

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Market to Market ...

One reader suggested: "I enjoy the downtown Farmer's Market, but wish they would move it closer to the residential district. Have they considered moving to the City Hall Parking lot? It would be easier for downtown residents to walk down on Saturday and may entice some of the Northside residents to participate. I don't like it when the close the market on festival weekends."

Good idea to consider. The City Hall / Thalian lot is one of the sites a consultant suggested for a "park" area. Having it there would minimize street closures downtown and would provide extra space for the market to expand. Consider including the monthly Bazaar there as well.

An added bonus is that the parking meters from 3rd Street to 4th are free on weekends.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

1000 Tourists and Only 2 Potties

The Visitor's Center at Water & Market Streets is a stopping point hundreds of tourists and locals. The facility is woefully inadequate as the only public restroom facility downtown.

Certainly a clever architect could redesign the facility to include more than 2 toilets. The huge open breezeway and storage space could be incorporated into space for at least 2 more stalls.

Change for a Buck?

Ever wonder what the diagonal slot was for on the parking meters? According to the manufacturer's website "Smartcard reader accepts disposable cards, reprogrammable electronic purse cards, or secure EFT smartcards." No more digging for coins.

The site also promotes a feature of the Smartcard. "Refund-a-Card is a programming option developed by POM whereby the electronic APM parking meter "remembers" the last ParkCard used in the meter. When the motorist returns to find left-over time remaining on their meter, they can reinsert their ParkCard, and the value of that left-over time is refunded to that card to the penny and the meter is reset to zero."

Why doesn't Parking Management / Central parking use this feature?

The Morning After

Saturday and Sunday mornings are the worst. Establishments leave leaky garbage bags on the side walk for morning trash pickup. The resulting mess is smelly, sticky and an unpleasant sight.

The collection of cigarette butts and wrist band tabs are sure signs of busy nights.

If you bring in the crowd that generates the mess, clean it up. Get a trashcan for your door guys. Put out your trash in cans with the bags in them or double bag it. Don't leave the mess for everyone to see in the day time.

It would help if the city or someone could provide outdoor water sources, so considerate owners can easily clean up the mess. Note: there are a few establishments that have someone clean their sidewalk areas. Thank you.

A Few Bricks Shy of a Load - Update 02/2006

Caption says it all. Photo 1 is middle of the 200 block of N Front. Photo 2 is the Riverwalk just north of the Coast Guard Dock.

Are people taking the pavers home as souvenirs?

The first picture of the Riverwalk was taken Oct 2005, the 2nd was taken Jan 2006. More bricks are disappearing.

The last picture taken Feb 8, 2006. The day the city fixed the hole in the Riverwalk.

Citizen Takes Action

After visiting this BLOG, one citizen has already taken steps to help clean up an eyesore. He is painting and cleaning up around the Bijou Park area. Public property with a public solution! The Nutt Street area has long been ignored.

Thanks Mr. M and regards to your lovely wife.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Obstacle Course

You may not notice if your mobility is not limited to a wheel chair, but there are sidewalks in our city which are not handicap accessible, or maybe just barely.

Planters & furniture placed in handicap ramps. Sidewalk tables, chairs and sandwich boards placed so that there is hardly enough room to walk, mush less navigate a wheel chair. The tree guards don't help, either.

Owners need to take a look at where they place their furniture and advertisements and think of the potential customers they may be losing due to inaccessibility. The ADA was created for a reason.

FREEdom of the Press

City of Wilmington Code Sec. 11-46. Newspaper vending racks on sidewalks and plazas.
(a) No person, firm, or corporation shall erect, place, maintain, or operate any newspaper vending rack on any publicly owned rights-of-way on a sidewalk, sidewalk area, shoulder, or plaza without first having obtained a permit from the city.

Take a walk up Front street and count the number and variety of newspaper and magazine vending racks. From Market to Chestnut, only 2 racks had city permits. Check the permit dates in the photos below. Has the city waived the permitting process and fee collection? If so, the city needs to update the code. Maybe the money collected could go to the purchase of some historically fitting newspaper corrals or is the festive circus-like color arrangement part of the new city decor. WWCD? At least the Star News doesn't put pink polka dots on the boxes.

Code goes on to state "Newspaper vending racks may not be chained, bolted, or otherwise attached to any pole, sign, or other fixture located in the public right-of-way, with the exception of other newspaper vending racks." Does bolting into the sidewalk count??

Friday, October 21, 2005

Cleaning Up

We noticed that the Dixie Grill was having someone pressure wash the sidewalk in front of their business. Thanks! If we all pitch in to make the city a cleaner, more attractive place, it benefits us all.

Where goes it all go???

Business owners, restaurant & bar owners need to be made aware that the trash and trash-can wash waste in alleys doesn't just magically go away, it flows into the Cape Fear River. Are there any regulations or enforcement to help clean up the alleys which are currently used as open dumpsters, trash dumps and free sewers? Visit some of the alleys off of Front Street or travel Nutt Street from Chestnut to Grace. You can see where some businesses wash out there trash cans right next to a storm drain.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

WAVE or Woosh?

Hey drivers, it's a 25 mph zone on S Front Street, from Market to Castle St. Observe the speed limit, there's not a checkered flag at the end of the run!

Some call it Art ... *** Improving

The Bijou Park area seems to be home to an ongoing art district populated by graffiti artists. They must think vandalism of public and private property is OK as long it is in the name of art & free speech. Enjoy the great PedArt display in Bijou Park, then continue on down the stairs and tour the graffiti works on Nutt Street.

Is there a department which handles graffiti removal?

Monday, October 17, 2005

More: Why we love out of town vendors.

Street Closed 2 days. $25/day street closure fee = $50. 11 Merchants times $25 Peddler fee times 2 days = $550. Sales Taxes???? Did anyone collect the $600?

What non-profit organization handled this 2 day event event? See the city code Chapter 4 Sec. 4-105. Special event concessions:

Permits for such sales shall only be issued to "nonprofit organizations," defined as those which have been designated as exempt organizations under section 501 of the Internal Revenue Code. Permits shall only be issued in connection with activities such as parades or festivals sponsored by the nonprofit organization; in no event will permits be issued when the only or primary activity sponsored is the operation of a concession or sales location. A valid permit issued pursuant to section 4-107 shall remain valid during a special event, in accordance with the provisions of the permit.

Yes, the event occurred at the same time as the Head of the Cape Fear Regatta (1 day event), but did they acquire the permit or a for-profit company?

Why we love the out of town vendors

This photo was taken during Riverfest of one of the food vendors. Just wash away that dirt and grease, right down the storm drain. Did anyone tell them it flows to the Cape Fear River! What a way to celebrate the river.

She's got her Dawn and rubber gloves just a scrubbin' out the food pan. Thanks. See you next year.