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Saint Augustine's College Public Forum

posted Jul 8, 2010, 7:37 PM by Mordecai CAC   [ updated Jul 8, 2010, 7:57 PM by Reid Serozi ]
Our fellow neighbor Heidi Miller from the East CAC attended the recent public forum at St. Augustine. Heidi was gracious enough to take notes and share with the surrounding communities. Heidi, you rock! thank you.

From Heidi Miller:

On July 7th, an email was sent out to the Oakwood Park Community Watch group by a neighbor, who heard from a City of Raleigh representative, that St. Augustine’s College was hosting a Public Forum at 12:30 and 6:30 on the 7th. 

When the meeting began, we were provided with a beautiful two-sided color flyer outlining the topics of discussion. These included the Cooke Street Redevelopment project, the Neighborhood Stabilization Program, The George Williams Athletic Complex project and the St. Agnes Hospital Restoration project. 

Mark Newman opened the meeting discussing St. Aug’s commitment to the community and building a connection. The college has over 350 employees that have a big impact on the community. 

St. Aug’s also has programs, facilities, and services available to the community and they’d like to explore how they can better share them. 

Mark then introduced Katrina Dixon, who is the General Manager of WAUG, the TV and radio station for St. Augustine’s College. Newman let us know that St. Aug’s has a television station that is seen throughout the state. They have academic programming, movies, and things that deal with the college. It’s also a venue they can use to touch the community. 

Their AM station, 750 AM, is ranked #23 in its market, which, Newman noted, is quite an accomplishment. They have a talk format that includes everything from Al Sharpton to Warren Ballentine. They also have sports broadcasts, legal shows, and other institutional programs. 

If anyone would like to advertise on their radio or TV stations, they’d be happy to have your business! If you are an expert in your field and would like to film a show, St. Aug’s has a facility and the ability to accommodate your needs. Otherwise, Dixon encouraged attendees to listen to and watch the St. Aug’s stations. 

Mark introduced Dennis Davis, St. Aug’s, Executive Director of St. Augustine’s Community Development Corporation. 

St. Aug’s’ community development has two major grants, a 2.1 million dollar neighborhood stabilization grant and another grant for $785,000. They are partnering with the Raleigh Business and Technology Center. The goal of the corporation is to purchase foreclosed and blighted housing, rehabilitate the properties, and then sell them to first time homebuyers. 

St. Aug’s CDC has just helped complete the Cooke St. Redevelopment project. They rehabilitated 13 homes and were given the “Sir Walter Raleigh” award for the quality of construction on the homes. Habitat for Humanity and the Evergreen Construction also built homes in the project area. 

The current goal is to purchase properties along Oakwood Ave. and the area immediately adjacent to the college. The ultimate goal is to provide transitional housing for faculty and later turn it over to first time home buyers. 

St. Aug’s has the YMCA “High Hopes” summer camp going on right now with 350 kids participating. They also have a “Wii Fit” program to help fight childhood obesity. 

The restoration of St. Agnes Hospital, which has been planned since 2005, is still in the planning stages. The college hopes to house their St. Agnes Health Disparities Institute there. 

St. Aug’s has begun construction of “Phase I” of the stadium project. They are hoping to build a nine lane world class track and field with a synthetic track in honor of Coach Williams. Mr. Newman stated that the project is moving forward, that a 2500 seat stadium has already been approved through the special use permit process for the site, which will also include 5000 parking spaces. 

Newman stated that there would be no on-street parking during events and that this would be strictly enforced. The stadium would only be used for about 4 home football games (no more than 6) and numerous track events. 

Newman stated that St. Aug’s’ goal is to have no conflict with the community as the project moves forward. 

Newman stated that St. Aug’s has borrowed no money for the stadium at this time, but that they have received monies from the City of Raleigh for the project. 

Fox News did a three part series on Coach Williams and St. Augustine’s college (one part was aired for the attendees). 

In closing, Newman asked how the college can communicate better with the community and asked what we, as members of the community, would like to see St. Augustine’s do. 

When asked how the college communicated with the community about this event, Newman stated they had researched the area and determined that there were 57 churches. They sent a poster announcing the event to each of the churches with a request that they announce the forum to the parishioners. They also announced the forum on their radio and TV stations. 

When asked, based on the small number of attendees, if they thought that form of communication had been successful, Newman and Dixon stated that, yes, it was successful. If only two people show up for an event, they have been successful. 

The public forum had been in the planning stages for a month and, according to Newman, information about the meeting was sent out to area churches, City Officials, and CACs two weeks prior. When asked when he had been notified about the event, Mark Turner, chair of the East CAC, noted that he’d been notified this morning. Newman stated that he had, in fact, not had contact information for Turner before that time. Flyers or mailings were not sent out to the surrounding neighborhoods because they had been told to keep costs down. 

When Newman asked if there was a better way to communicate with the community, or if we had any suggestions, it was suggested that they use the contact information attendees have provided at previous meetings about various St. Augustine initiatives. Dennis Davis gave his email address, dodavis <at>, and requested that those individuals who would like him to email them could send him an email so he would then have their addresses and could include them in future communications. He also provided his phone number, 516-5230, in case someone would like to call him. 

It was suggested that placing signs at all intersections around the college announcing future public forums might be another effective means of communication. 

When the floor was opened to questions, it was suggested that one way to make the college more open to the community would be to add a sidewalk along N. State St. Newman stated that this was an idea the college had been floating around for some time and discussing with the City of Raleigh, to see who would have ultimate responsibility for the sidewalk, since St. Augustine’s would not like to be the only party responsible. 

When asked if St. Aug’s had gone back to the City, since their special use permit had timed out, to get permission to build the stadium in the new location, Newman stated that they had gone back and were now trying to find out if they have to go back through the special use permit process or if the City will simply let them build where they are currently building. They will need a new traffic study done before they can move on to Phase II, which will be seating and parking. 

Newman stated that a Mr. Fleming, with the City Planning Department, had been at the 12:30 meeting earlier in the day. 

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