So far, only two nonprofits have expressed a serious interest in running the city’s public-access cable-TV channel, lamented Vice Mayor Ed Hay, who contested a proposed consent-agenda item that would have extended the deadline for other interested parties to submit proposals for operating the channel.
“Should we be rethinking the original premise?” Hay asked the city’s Public and Community Information Coordinator Robin Westbrook, who admitted that part of the reason for extending the deadline is to help the two interested nonprofits — WCQS Radio and the League of Women Voters — decide whether or not to join forces and submit another proposal as a new nonprofit entity, whose sole purpose would be to operate the channel.
“I believe these two groups could form a good partnership, if they do decide to do that,” she said, explaining that one group had the technical prowess needed to start a station, while the other was well-schooled in volunteer recruitment, a key ingredient for ensuring the channel’s ongoing success.
Hay wanted assurance that, come the new Jan. 28 deadline (requested by the interested nonprofits because of pressing holiday issues), the matter wouldn’t revert to square one, should the parties decide to back out at the last minute.
“I want to make sure there are [regular] reports, even if it’s just Robin’s opinion on [where the issue stands]. … I’d rather know by November if they decide to pull out,” he observed.
“Based on [the groups’] feedback, there is definite interest,” Westbrook maintained; nevertheless, she promised to update Council regularly on the two nonprofits’ continuing discussions.
“Given the number of people who were so active about this, who were jumping up and down to get this thing going, I’m surprised that only two organizations were interested,” put in Council member Barbara Field.
Hay said that he, too, was disappointed. Council decided to take up the matter again at its next formal meeting.
St. Dunstan’s traffic reconsidered
Wielding a complex-looking map and a cheery smile, City Engineer Cathy Ball updated Council on the St. Dunstan’s Road traffic situation. In February 1998, Council approved leaving the connection between St. Dunstan’s Road and McDowell Street open — the area had been closed briefly, during construction on a nearby bridge. Residents who had enjoyed the decrease in through-traffic had protested the re-opening, but the city persisted after concluding that closing the connector would delay emergency vehicles responding to calls in the area.
Since then, four traffic counts have been taken on St. Dunstan’s Road. The results reveal that, in fact, the volume of through-traffic does not significantly increase when the area is left open; specifically, Ball’s report states that “the highest traffic volume recorded in the neighborhood was less than 500 vehicles per day, which is a relatively low number for a local service, residential street.”
Still, certain St. Dunstan’s Road residents reportedly remain unhappy that their street continues to serve as a thoroughfare. However, only one resident attended Council’s work session, although City Clerk Maggie Burleson said that residents had been notified that the issue was due to come before Council.
Mayor Leni Sitnick suggested that Council re-address the issue at its next formal meeting and asked Burleson to notify St. Dunstan’s Road residents of Council’s latest decision, and to let them know that their input would be encouraged during that meeting’s public-comment period.
— compiled by Melanie McGee