Newly-elected Mayor Steve Schewel outlined his plans for Durham at his first annual State of the City Address on Monday. He emphasized projects related to the environmental health of the city and improving livability in Durham.
Around 85 people attended the event which was also broadcast on Durham’s public access channel and can now be viewed online at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ppytbyMhx8&feature=youtu.be.
Schewel focused early in the speech on a recycling program that he is preparing to launch.
“The most exciting innovation of all to me is the upcoming unveiling of our pilot organics recycling program,” said Schewel.
The program is Schewel’s way to start gardens and grow whole foods in the community. Schewel also proposed planting about 60,000 trees in the next 20 years.
“I believe deeply that trees are a critical public asset,” Schewel said. “Trees are the foundation of a beautiful healthy neighborhood.”
Schewel also wants to invest in water and sewer projects.
“Over the next five years we have programmed for over $376 million on water and sewer infrastructure projects, to ensure that we have sustainable water supply for this community for the next 100 years.”
Schewel made it clear that he wants to make the community a better place for everyone in the area. Schewel mentioned a project to fixed street lines, bike lanes, and sidewalks for all kinds of transportation.
“We’re also paving 38 lane lines on streets this year,” Schewel told the audience.
He mentioned nearly $40 million of sidewalk and bike lane projects in the works, including projects on Durham-Chapel Hill Road, Fayetteville Street, Alston Avenue, North Roxboro Road among others.
Schewel told the audience about a project that he had already started. The project involves integrating mixed-income communities and creating more affordable housing for low income families.
The affordable housing project that Schewel is currently working on offers affordable housing for senior citizens and housing for homeless veterans.
“If a veteran becomes homeless in Durham and reports him or herself to the V.A, that veteran will be rehoused within 30 days,” Schewel said.
The City Address lasted about 45 minutes, but the crowd seemed to think it was worth every minute, applauding and nodding approval at his plans to make the community a better place.
“What caught my attention the most is when he was talking about affordable housing and putting an end to children homelessness,” said Durham resident Ashanti Woolard. “I had no clue that there were children in our community that have nowhere to go at night. That is my main concern, and I look forward to hearing more about the situation.”