NECD Leadership Council: improving the community

By Jerome Brown, Jr.
NCCU Staff Writer
the Durham VOICE

The Northeast Central Durham Leadership Council met on Oct. 14 to discuss plans for the future of NECD and recent successes in the community.

Earl Phillips, assistant director for community engagement from the City of Durham Neighborhood Improvement Services, addresses the NECD Leadership Council. (Staff photo by Jerome Brown)

The one hour meeting, presided over by Assistant Director for Neighborhood Improvement Services (NIS) Earl Phillips, was attended by the majority of the council.

Wendy Clark, NECD council member and entrepreneur informed members of the success of the Sept. 23 Business After Hours. Business After Hours is a networking session hosted by the Durham Chamber of Commerce. It allows attendees to meet in a relaxed environment to network, build relationships and new business contacts. Approximately 200 people attended the session.

“Our goal is to build relationships and help connect people in the community,” Clark said.

During the meeting, El Centro Hispano President/CEO Pilar Rocha-Goldberg brought up the success of ECH’s Health Fair.

The 12th Health Fair took place on Sept. 25 and involved nearly 3,000 people, making it their largest health fair to date.

The health fair provided health screenings, educational information and treatment at no charge for community members. This year’s fair was held at the Holton Career and Resource Center. In previous years, the fair was held at Hillside High School.

“This year the fair was in a new location so we knew it would be a challenge to draw people to the fair,” said Rocha- Goldberg. “In the end we were happy with the results and the record attendance.”

Council members listened intently as Phillips discussed the details of the Sep. 28 Durham News article about the reduction of federal funds targeted to NECD and Southwest Central Durham. Under the original financial plan, the amount of homes the city and nonprofit agencies could build was 812. Under the plan that features the funds being allocated to the Rolling Hills/Southside redevelopment it would only allow 197 homes to be built.

Council members expressed concern that NECD residents don’t support local businesses. Suggestions to attack the problem included asking businesses to expand their hours or at least offer consistent business hours.

“The community needs to support the community,” Phillips exclaimed.

On the horizon for the community, is the Alston Avenue Widening Workshop, which is set for Tuesday Oct. 19 from 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Holton Career and Resource Center.

DOT has plans in the works to widen Alston Avenue from three lanes to four, with a median dividing the lanes. Also planned are right and left turn lanes at various intersections, sidewalks, bike lanes and curbs, and gutters.

The widening has been a hot button issue since 2006 when the plans were first announced. The original proposal featured a right of way that would run through the Los Primos grocery store on the corner of Alston and Main Street.

During the workshop officials will propose alternate plans for residents to review.

As the meeting came to a close, Phillips’ words from early in the meeting, resonated throughout the meeting, as he encouraged the council to be mindful of their positions in the community.

“As the leadership council, we have the obligation of responsibility to do the right thing,” said Phillips.