Dog restrictions

I was at work Friday, working my way through an increasing pile of work when I took a brief moment to check my Twitter account.

Yikes! WRAL’s Twitter feed had the headline “Raleigh considering pet ban in parks, on greenways.”

That’s just ridiculous and wrong.

The news media had latched on to a city press release that had a similarly-misleading headline: “Parks Committee Seeking Input on Possible Pet Ban in City Parks.” Though the gist of the press release was correct, the media saw “pet ban in parks” and assumed the worst.

Working as fast as I could, I tweeted back to WRAL that their headline was wrong and their story was misleading. To their credit, they promptly corrected the story but not before many, many of their Twitter followers had a tizzy.
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World’s largest midget?

Went out to dinner with some family friends when my friend leans over the table.

“I see you all the time on public access,” he tells me.

“Really?” I reply. This was news to me.

It brought up all kinds of questions, namely

  • there are people who actually watch public access
  • I’m friends with one of them, and
  • I have no clue what could be showing that has me in it.

I don’t have cable so the only time I can see what’s on Raleigh Television Network is the streaming the city does of its government channel. I might show up at an occasional city council meeting but more often than not there’s other stuff showing.

Being on public access all the time is kind of like being the world’s largest midget.

Neuse River Greenway Dedication

Neuse River Greenway Dedication, 25 Apr 2013

Neuse River Greenway Dedication, 25 Apr 2013

I had a great time speaking at yesterday’s Neuse River Greenway Dedication, where there were probably 200 people in attendance. I wore a suit because I was speaking, though I much rather would’ve preferred to be there in bike clothes as was Wake Commissioner Joe Bryan. I was second-to-last on the speaker’s list, behind Mayor Nancy McFarlane, Eugene Weeks, John Odom, Joe Bryan, Tony Tata, Wake Forest Mayor Vivian Jones, and Charles Meeker. Greenway planner Vic Lebsock batted clean-up before the ribbon was cut.

The suit wound up acting like a heat blanket, soaking up the sun on what was supposed to have been a cool, breezy day. Afterward I kept my jacket on too long and then went from the park to the hot gymnasium at Conn Elementary where I joined my family for the school’s Pizza and Pizzaz PTA event. By the time the show ended and I was stacking chairs I felt a bit dizzy and my muscles were cramping.

Yesterday’s greenway was one of the last major dedications I’ll speak at before my term as Parks board chair is over. It has been wonderful public speaking practice! I got lots of compliments on yesterday’s speech, too. After my term is over I’m not sure what I will do but the Parks board sure has been a lot of fun.

DC bound

I’m taking the next two days off to chaperone my daughter’s 5th grade class on a trip to Washington, DC. I’ve been looking forward to this trip for months and can’t believe it’s finally here.

While I’m gone I’ll be missing a Parks board meeting. I can’t recall if I’ve ever missed one in the 4 years I’ve been on the Board. Maybe one, but no more. This is totally worth it, though. I love helping kids, and the chance to pal around with my daughter for two days is a real gift.

Who knows? Maybe I’ll even get a chance to do some blogging. We’ll see.

Outstanding Parks board meeting

I don’t know how I did it. I’m into my second week of an intense new job, getting up to speed with an extraordinarily sophisticated product, waking up before dawn to put in a full day before picking up the kids in the afternoon, and feeling flat-out exhausted most evenings. Still, somehow, somewhere, I found the energy to lead what might have been my best Parks board meeting yet.

I was dreading tonight’s meeting, knowing how behind-the-eight-ball I’ve felt over the past two weeks. The agenda was a heady one, with multiple votes to be taken on multiple projects. I thought we might be stuck there all night. The best I was hoping for was to get through it without nodding off in the middle of it. Honestly.

In spite of all this, though, everyone was in a jovial mood. The wisecracks were constantly flying, with everyone fair game for a little ribbing. With our packed agenda, we ran later than we usually do but no one seemed to mind. If that weren’t enough, every single vote tonight was unanimous. We have come together almost like one big family.

Where did all of this energy come from? Why do I feel so energized after meetings like tonight’s? I wish I knew these answers. A friend asked me tonight how I do this and my answer is I don’t know. It just seems to happen.

I was musing afterward that successfully leading a board (or any team, whether it be work colleagues, a sports team, or whatever) takes a light touch. It’s kind of like good sailing, where you just know what adjustment is needed in the sails to get the best performance. I imagine it’s also like leading a team of horses (like I would know, but humor me here), where you know the horses’ personalities and what it takes to get the best from each one. Good sports coaches do this constantly with their players. They know what it takes to get the best from each athlete, and – most importantly – how to put them in a position to succeed.

I’m not a coach (unless you count assistant coaching for little league baseball), I’ve never driven a team of horses, and I get to sail about once a year. Even so, every now and then I’ve seen magic happen in a meeting I’ve happened to lead. Few things to me are more fun than that.

Highlights of 2012: Parks board fun

The year 2012 was the start of my second year as chair of Raleigh’s Parks, Recreation, and Greenway Advisory Board (PRGAB). It’s been a busy year, too, I might add.

I continued to speak on behalf of the board at a number of park dedications and groundbreakings, among them the House Creek Greenway Dedication, Carolina Pines Community Center, Jaycees Community Center Dedication, Five Points Center for Active Adults Dedication, Buffalo Road Aquatic Center Dedication, Anne Gordon Center for Active Adults Dedication, Historic Chavis Carousel Groundbreaking, Method Road Playground Dedication, the “Function at the Junction” where Wake Forest’s greenway meets Raleigh’s, and probably a few other events I’m forgetting. It seems that these have become so routine that I don’t even blog about every one!
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Governor, Mayor sign Dix Park lease

Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane, Governor Perdue, and Secretary of State Elaine Marshall sign the lease creating Dix Park

I got to watch today as Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane, Governor Perdue, and Secretary of State Elaine Marshall signed the least that created Dix Park this afternoon. It was a fantastic occasion. I look forward to helping shape this wonderful new park.

Here’s Laura Leslie of WRAL’s story on the signing:

In one of her final acts in office, outgoing Gov. Beverly Perdue formally signed an agreement Friday to lease the Dorothea Dix Hospital campus to the City of Raleigh, which plans to turn it into a “destination park.”

The Raleigh City Council and the Council of State, a panel of 10 statewide elected officials, approved the agreement earlier this month, and Friday afternoon’s signing finalized the deal on the 325-acre site that is just south of downtown.

Last man standing

Two things happened at Thursday’s Parks board meeting/holiday social. We bid farewell to long-time board member and previous chair Jimmy Thiem, who has served his full six years on the board. It’s been great working with Jimmy and we will certainly miss his parks expertise. I hope we can put him to use on upcoming parks committees like one for Dix Park.

There’s another aspect to Jimmy’s “retirement” from the Parks board that I only realized afterward: I’m now the senior member of the board. This boggles my mind as it seems like only yesterday that I was a fresh-faced newbie on the board. Now I’ve seen all of the previous boardmembers rotate off to be replaced by fresh faces.
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Raleigh to begin planning Dix park

I was quoted in Saturday’s Midtown Raleigh News about the planning process beginning for Dix Park.

“We’re going to see design talent from all across the country competing for this opportunity,” said Mark Turner, chairman of the city’s parks and greenways board. “You’ve got this land next to a large city. It’s going to attract attention.”

Turner said he would not rule out any possibilities, including an extension of Pullen Park or a spur that would allow the Pullen Park miniature train ride to cross Western Boulevard and enter the Dix campus.

“It’s the public’s park, and the public should get to decide,” Turner said.

While I think the idea of connecting Pullen and Dix is intriguing, logistically it would be difficult to do. I guess at the time I was interviewed I had gotten caught up in the euphoria!

via Raleigh to begin planning Dix park – Raleigh –

State, Raleigh agree on Dix Park lease

N.C. Council of State discusses Dix Park lease

What a day it’s been! I had some time this morning to attend this morning’s Council of State session where the lease of the Dix property was on the agenda. It was a hot, crowded room – I was crammed into the very last seat in the corner – but it was so worth it to be there for that historic moment when the Council voted 7-2 with one abstention to approve the lease.

I went back to work after this but tuned into today’s Council session to hear how it would deal with the lease. After about a 30 minute closed session, the council emerged to vote 7-1 to accept the lease. Councilor John Odom was the lone no vote, saying later that he wasn’t against the park but hasn’t had time to review the lease.

I had my monthly Parks board chair/vice-chair meeting today and met with Parks Director Diane Sauer. Needless to say, she was beaming from ear to ear! So were other Parks staff members. It’s been a long journey to get to this point and to have it suddenly a reality is truly surreal.
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