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Following the money: Greensboro capital investment spending by district

by Jordan Green

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Greensboro capital investment spending, by district

1. District 3: $68.4 million

2. District 4: $58.9 million

3. District 2: $52.4 million

4. District 5: $37.7 million

5. District 1: $37.4 million

Citywide impact: $171.8 million

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Fire protection, by district

1. District 3: $4.9 million (Big-ticket items: $1.6 million for design and construction of Fire Station #3 on Lake Jeanette Road, $1 million for design and construction of Fire Station #2 on North Church

‘ Street, and $812,001 for design and construction of Fire Station #21 on Horse Pen Creek Road (split))

2. District 1: $4.3 million (Big-ticket item: $3.5 million for construction of Fire Station #53 on Willow Road)

3. District 5: $1.5 million (Big-ticket items: $812,001 for design and construction of Fire Station #21 on Horse Pen Creek Road (split), and $571,616 for work on Battalion 3 headquarters (split))

4. District 4: $1.4 million (Big-ticket items: $812,001 for design and construction of Fire Station #21 on Horse Pen Creek Road (split), and $571,616 for work on Battalion 3 headquarters (split))

5. District 2: $1.3 million (Big-ticket item: $1 million for design and construction of Fire Station #2 on North Church Street (split)

Housing and community development, by district

1. District 2: $1 million (Big-ticket item:

Streetscaping for Martin Luther King Jr. Drive)

2. District 1: $677,845 ($337,457 for demolition of buildings in South Elm Street brownfield project)

Libraries, by district

1. District 3: $4.8 million (Big-ticket items: $2 million for renovation of the Benjamin Branch Library, and $1.7 million for work on the Greensboro Historical Museum)

2. District 4: $4.5 million (Big-ticket item: $4.5 million for construction of Kathleen Clay Edwards Family Branch Library and associated costs)

3. District 2: $4 million (Big-ticket item:

$4 million for construction of McGirt-Horton Branch Library)

4. District 5: $2.3 million (Big-ticket item: $2.3 million for construction of Hemphill Branch Library)

Parks and recreation, by district

1. District 1: $9.7 million (Big-ticket items: $3.2 million for spray-grounds, restrooms, concession stands and shelters at Barber Park, $2.7 million for replacement of roof and floor at Simkins Indoor Sports Pavilion at Barber Park, and $2 million for Gateway Gardens Phase I) 2.

District 2: $7.7 million (Big-ticket item: $6.1 million for purchase of Greensboro Sportsplex)

3. District 5: $4 million (Big-ticket item: $3.6 million for Hilltop Road park purchase)

4. District 4: $3.3 million (Big-ticket item: $2.8 million for construction work at Carolyn Allen Park)

5. District 3: $748,506

Police services, by district

1. District 5: $2.1 million (Big-ticket item: $2.1 million for renovation of Swing Road police substation)

2. District 1: $165,176

3. District 3: $22,096

Transportation, by district

1. District 4: $12.3 million (Big-ticket items: $5.6 million for Friendly Avenue improvements, and $1.3 million for New Garden Road improvements (split))

2. District 5: $11.7 million (Big-ticket items: $5.5 million for Hilltop Road improvements, $1.3 million for New Garden Road improvements (split)

3. District 3: $11.5 million (Big-ticket items: $2.6 million for improvements to South Greene Street, $1.7 million for Cone Boulevard underpass for Atlantic & Yadkin Greenway, and $1.5 million for repairs to the Davie Street Parking Deck)

4. District 2: $10.4 million (Big-ticket items: $6.4 million for East Market Street streetscaping, and $2.9 million for replacement of the Billy “Crash” Craddock Bridge)

5. District 1: $6 million (Big-ticket items: $2.5 million for roadway and sidewalk improvements on South Elm-Eugene Street, and $2.5 million for roadway and sidewalk improvements on Franklin Boulevard)

Water and sewer, by district

1. District 3: $45.4 million (Big-ticket items: $24.5 million for North Buffalo sewer outfall upgrade and associated downstream system upgrades (split), $6.4 million for Lake Daniel pump station and reservoir improvements, $3.6 million for chemical treatment at Mitchell water treatment plant, $1.9 million for Mitchell Filtration Plant improvements, $1.9 million for Battleground tank feeder water main)

2. District 4: $37.3 million (Big-ticket items: $24.5 million for North Buffalo sewer outfall upgrade and associated downstream system upgrades (split), and $6.4 million for water line rehabilitation in Sunset Hills neighborhood)

3. District 2: $27.1 million (Big-ticket items: $9.5 million for the Reedy Fork sewer outfall and pump station, $2.3 million for improvements to the North Buffalo Waste Water Treatment Plant and $2 million for the Battleground tank feeder water main, $1.4 million for culvert participation project at Reedy Fork, and $1.3 million for replacement of intake pump at Lake Townsend)

4. District 5: $15.2 million (Big-ticket item: $2.9 million for the Bledsoe Drive force main sewer outfall, $2.4 million for the Gallimore Dairy Road force main sewer outfall and associated costs, and $2.2 million for construction of the Bledsoe Drive Lift Station)

5. District 1: $7.2 million (Big-ticket item: $1.7 million for US 70 and McConnell Road booster station)

Shared assets

Water resources: $92.2 million (Big-ticket items: $33.9 million for work on TZ Osborne Waste Water Treatment Plant, $9.8 million for construction of water operations center on South Elm-Eugene Street, and $2.4 million for Hester Park dam relocation)

Transportation: $38.8 million (Big-ticket item: $16.6 million for construction of multimodal transportation center construction)

Fire protection: $11.7 million (Big-ticket item: $10.5 million for public safety training facility)

Greensboro Coliseum: $8.1 million (Big-ticket item: $3 million for performance energy audit)

Environmental services: $7.3 million (Big-ticket item: $7.3 million for construction of the solid waste transfer station)

Parks and recreation: $3.6 million

Economic incentive grants, by district

1. District 5: $10.3 million *

2. District 2: $2.3 million

3. District 1: $1.5 million

4. District 3: $1.2 million

5. District 4: $400,000

* Includes sites that are either slated to become annexed into District 5 or, in the case of Piedmont Triad International Airport and Honda Aircraft Co., are surrounded by it.

Miles of resurfaced roadway, by district

1. District 1: 50

2. District 3: 48.5

3. District 4: 47.4

4. District 2: 41.6

5. District 5: 34.3

Parkland acreage, by district

1. District 3: 1,123 * 1

2. District 1: 534

3. District 4: 396 * 2

4. District 2: 378 * 3

5. District 5: 263 * 4

* 1 Includes large acreage of parkland owned by the federal government and Guilford County. Affluent residents have access to the Greensboro Country Club.

* 2 Affluent resident have access to Starmount Country Club.

* 3 Does not include the 1,571-acre Bryan Park, which is only contiguous to the district by Lake Townsend.

* 4 Affluent residents have access to Sedge field

Country Club and the Cardinal Golf & Country Club.

Neighborhood parks, by district

1. District 1: 19

2. District 4: 14 * 1

3. District 2: 11

4. District 3: 4 * 2

5. District 5: 3

* 1 Also includes the 20-acre Arboretum, 6-acre Bicentennial Gardens and 18-acre Market Street Park, which abut several residential neighborhoods.

* 2 Also includes the 86-acre Lake Daniel Complex and 62-acre Latham Park, which abut several residential neighborhoods.

Thanks to Councilwoman Trudy Wade, who represents District 5, Greensboro residents now know where money from their property taxes and water fees have been spent over the past decade.

An analysis of capital project spending shows that District 3, which covers downtown and spreads out into the northern suburbs swaddling Lake Brandt, leads the city in capital spending. District 1 — majority black and located in the southeast — vies with District 5, a racially and economically diverse section in the southwest, for last place. District 4, a bastion of established neighborhoods in the center-west portion of the city, and District 2 — predominantly black and located in the northeast — fall somewhere in the middle.

Spending in districts 3 and 4 was driven largely by the necessity of replacing the North Buffalo sewer outfall when heavy rains caused manhole covers to burst in Latham Park. The exclusive neighborhoods of Irving Park and Fisher Park in District 3 slope down to North Buffalo Creek where the problem became apparent. Further upstream, rain and wastewater from households in Sunset Park and Starmount in District 4 fed the bloat. Altogether, the city spent about $50 million upgrading the outfall and replacing pump stations so that TZ Osborne Waste Water Treatment Plant in the city’s northeast corner could handle the discharge.

Districts 4 and 5 saw the most spending on roadway improvement, with major projects on Friendly Avenue and Hilltop Road, while transportation spending in District 3 included beautification of Greene Street near Holliday Traffic Circle, the development of a greenway with an underpass and repair of a parking deck.

When it came to parks and recreation, the trend reversed, with districts 1, 2 and 3 commanding larger shares of funding than the more affluent districts 3 and 4. Money has been spent in District 1 on a new spray-ground at Barber Park and the nascent Gateway Gardens. District 2’s major expenditure was the purchase of the Greensboro Sportsplex. And the city spent money to buy land for a new park on Hilltop Road in District 5.

All districts except 1 benefited from new branch libraries or major renovations. Fire stations were built in districts 1 and 3, while districts 2, 3, 4 and 5 benefited from new fire stations that straddle political lines.

Wade requested the data from city staff, but did not return phone calls for this story.

An explanation of methodology: A spreadsheet provided by city staff to Wade tallying capital expenditures by district indicates that District 1 leads the city in capital spending, with $110.5 million, followed by District 2, with $82.4 million. Those figures give the false impression that the city spends roughly three out of every 10 dollars allocated for capital investment projects in districts 1 and 2, which are predominantly African-American and poorer than the rest of the city. A number of factors drive those numbers: The Greensboro Coliseum lies in District 1, and the TZ Osborne Waste Water Treatment Plant lies in District 2. Major spending on the multi-modal transportation center on East Washington Street and on South Greene Street took place in the early part of the decade before the precinct that encompasses them was moved into District 3 in 2007. Due to a coding decision by staff, the $20.2-million North Buffalo sewer outfall and associated costs were classified as District 2 expenditures. Adding insult to injury, by a fluke of geography the northeast quadrant of the city appears to be hoarding the city’s water resources. Yet, being downstream, they are the last to contribute to the city’s wastewater flow.

“That is the main-trunk sewer line that goes down through Latham Park,” Water Resources Director Allan Williams said. “Because the sewer system in that tributary is so old — and there are about 500 miles of tributary when it rains — it would get overflowed. Mostly rainwater but some sanitary sewer would blow out the manhole covers…. The short version is we had sanitary sewer overflows in Latham Park, and if we didn’t fix it we were going to be in trouble. I think, in the end, it cost us $50 million.

“Picture that outfall that couldn’t handle all that water,” he continued. “Now that we’ve fixed it, it’s coming downstream. The North Buffalo plant is a small treatment plant, and it couldn’t handle all that additional wastewater. That pump station pumped whatever North Buffalo couldn’t handle to TZ Osborne. Now that we’re capturing all that stuff that used blow out into the creek, we had to increase our capacity.”

Adding to the confusion, the city provided a separate document listing major expenditures such as the purchase of the Greensboro Sportsplex and land for the Hilltop Road Park that were not listed in the spreadsheet, but also other expenditures that were duplicates. For the purpose of providing more accurate totals for the five districts, the figures in the two documents were combined, and many expenditures were reassigned based on the current locations of the projects rather than at the time they were initiated. Some expenditures were simply miscoded, such as “Westerwood bathrooms,” which originally fell into the category of “various.” The bathrooms are clearly located in District 3, and were reassigned accordingly. Conversely, no resident particularly clamors for a wastewater plant or a solid waste transfer station; both are assets that are critical to the healthy functioning of the entire city and are better understood as vital parts of a single organism. Accordingly, the TZ Osborne Waste Water Treatment Plant is pulled out of District 2 and reassigned as a shared asset, along with the solid waste transfer station in District 5.

It’s easy to pinpoint the geographic benefit of parks, libraries and fire stations. Less so with water and sewer lines, reservoirs, filtration plants and pumps.

“Right now, we just built a $12-million raw water lift station and we’re doing a $15-million dam repair [at Lake Townsend],” Williams said. “That has a citywide benefit, and I would posit it has no differential impact to District 2 over the other districts — unless you happen to live downstream from the dam, in which case I guess you would be glad that it doesn’t break.”

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