Bait and switch

by YES! Staff


Seeking our endorsement for mayor of Greensboro last fall, Robbie Perkins reiterated his support for a north-south thoroughfare connecting the nanotech center on East Lee Street to the GTCC campus on East Wendover — a roadway that would lay the groundwork for economic development and knit the east side together much as Holden Road does on the west.

“You want people to say 50 years from now: ‘Those guys had vision,’” he told us.

We believed him then. We want him to stay true to it now. Perkins shared his vision with a group of NC A&T University students during the campaign, saying it was something he and Councilwoman Dianne Bellamy-Small wanted to get done. Councilman Jim Kee discussed his advocacy for a more ambitious project to extend Cone Boulevard down to Nealtown Road and bring the new roadway down to Lee Street. While Perkins and Kee’s transportation visions differ in the details, they concur in the big picture.

Also, it’s worth noting that construction of the northeast section of the Urban Loop is scheduled to begin in 2014. An interchange at Cone Boulevard is not currently funded. A 2004 feasibility study prepared for the city and the NC Department of Transportation called the interchange “critical to promoting economic development in this area in the future,” noting “widespread public interest in enhanced economic development in eastern Greensboro and Guilford County, and the desire to create a more balanced development pattern around the city.”

Greensboro Mayor robbie perkins, of all people, knows that geography is destiny.

Incidentally, we heard nothing about a downtown performing arts center during the campaign. Now, Perkins rarely misses an opportunity to trumpet how crucial this project is.

To be sure, a performing arts center would bring significant benefits:

employment opportunities for young people in downtown restaurants and bars that would capture additional dollars from patrons who want to enjoy a meal or a drink before the show; an additional amenity to help investors market condos; and a sense of pride in holding our own with Durham and Winston-Salem.

We said last October that it’s time to fast-track a major roadway project for east Greensboro just like city council fast-tracked the Sciquarium at the Natural Science Center and the aquatic center, and now we see another flashy monument cutting in line. We said that the new council could not be wallflowers at east Greensboro’s dance — involving a nanotech center developing innovative technologies that create entrepreneurial opportunities and an exciting neighborhood revitalization initiative in nearby Cottage Grove — and now we see mostly indifference.

Perkins, of all people, knows that geography is destiny. He knows better than this.

The performing arts center can wait. Conservatives have long accused Greensboro’s moderate-progressive leadership of hypocrisy in failing to act on east Greensboro’s transportation needs. We suspected that Perkins, along with Keith Holliday and Yvonne Johnson, dragged their heels because they wanted to avoid enabling the reopening of the White Street Landfill. Now that the landfill is off the table, there’s no excuse.

Stop breaking promises to east Greensboro.

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