Parks, Recreation, and Greenway Advisory Board

The Raleigh Parks, Recreation, and Greenway Advisory Board serves as the official citizen advisory board to the City Council on issues related to parks, greenway, and recreation policy matters. The board advises on matters related to the funding of the parks and recreation capital program, parks and recreation program policies, facility planning, and the acquisition of lands related to the parks and recreation program. The board serves as a liaison between the City and the citizens of the community and also works to promote parks and recreation programs.

The Parks, Recreation, and Greenway Advisory Board consist of fifteen members, appointed by City Council to overlapping two-year terms.


The Parks, Recreation, and Greenway Advisory Board meetings are held on the third Thursday of every month. Currently, the meetings are held virtually using Zoom.


Three standing committees function to carry out the responsibilities of the Parks, Recreation, and Greenway Advisory Board:

Parks Committee

Meets the first Thursday of each month at 6pm in the Raleigh Municipal Building at 222 W. Hargett Street.

The committee is responsible for the study of issues related to park facilities, features, developments, and modifications. The committee prepares recommendations and proposals for the Parks, Recreation and Greenway Advisory Board based on in-depth review and study of park-related issues and concerns.

Greenway and Urban Trees Committee

Meets the second Monday of each month at 4pm at the Raleigh Municipal Building at 222 W. Hargett Street.

The committee deliberates, advises and makes recommendations to the Parks, Recreation, and Greenway Advisory Board on issues regarding the City of Raleigh greenway system and the City’s urban forestry programs.

Fred Fletcher Outstanding Volunteer Awards Committee

The committee plans the annual awards event that recognizes and honors volunteers who have made exceptional contributions to Department of Parks and Recreation programs or facilities. Nominations for these awards may be made by the public; nomination forms become available in January through the Parks and Recreation Department. The awards ceremony is held at Fred Fletcher Park each spring. The committee is comprised of current and former Advisory Board members and interested citizens.

For more information: visit the Raleigh website at

Wakefield Small Area Plan

Hello everyone,

The Wakefield Small Area Plan – when it is finalized – will become part of the City’s Comprehensive Plan and will guide future development along Falls of Neuse Road (not Old Falls of Neuse) from the river to Capital Blvd. The motivation behind developing the plan was to prevent Falls of Neuse from becoming another Capital Blvd built out as strip malls. I believe that the community very much wants to keep the vegetation that lines the road as well as the wide, landscaped medians. To ensure that development proceeds as the COMMUNITY wishes it to proceed, an effort is now underway to develop the Wakefield Small Area Plan.

So, what exactly will go into the Plan? Ultimately that will depend on the community. But generally there will be guidance about population density, building heights, parking, landscaping, tree preservation and conservation, transit, etc.

So, who will participate in creating the plan? This is an excellent question. There will be upcoming public meetings. In addition, the City Planning staff is meeting with a list of “stakeholders”.

I have to confess that I do not agree with the process for determining who is and isn’t a stakeholder. The process was done behind closed doors and the initial stakeholder meetings are not public. I would have preferred a public meeting to introduce the Small Area Plan to the entire community, allow ALL meetings to be public, and ensure that participation is extended to everyone. I will continue to monitor the process to ensure that the community’s interests are met.

With that caveat, the following is an update from the City Manager’s office about where we are today with the Small Area Plan.

Here, then, is the update for the Wakefield Small Area Plan:

Council Member Cox –

In follow up to our earlier text messages and telephone conversation of yesterday, please note the following with regard to activities underway with the referenced project.

Funding for the area study was appropriated with the FY21 budget.

A consultant selection process was conducted; Stantec ( was chosen to conduct the study. The consultant team also includes Catalyst Design (

Staff and the consultants have extended invitations to several stakeholder interviews in advance of the public meetings. The purpose of the interviews is to familiarize the consultants with existing conditions in order to help them understand the study area, the organizations that are located in the study area, and to receive information regarding issues that they should be aware of.

The interviews occurring this week were not intended to be public; rather these are intended as initial fact-finding and due diligence being performed by the consultants with the goal of obtaining information, and not to solicit policy input.

The interviews will be comprised of city staff, public safety, churches, transportation groups, and other organizations related to the topics of the study. It is important to note that the discussions can lead to the identification of other stakeholders and organizations that should be contacted in the course of the area study. The interviews, which began yesterday, are scheduled as follows:

Wakefield Stakeholder Interviews

April 12, 9 AM – Ritchie Bazzell, Principal, Wakefield High School

April 13, 2 PM – Michael Ballen, Raleigh Police
Lemuel Hubbard, Raleigh Fire
Ivon Johnson, Raleigh Fire

April 13, 3 PM – Mary Sell, Oaks and Spokes
Michelle Bell, Forest Pines Elementary
Brad Hester, Creative Schools

April 14, 1 PM – Hannah McManus, Wakefield UMC
Shane Brown, Kerr Family YMCA
John McInerny, Village of Wakefield
Yolanda Sanders, Wakefield Plantation
Bill Marley, Wakefield Plantation

April 15, 10 AM – Ben Brown, Raleigh Stormwater
Emma Liles, Raleigh Parks
John French, Friends of the Mountains to Sea Trail
Smith Raynor, NC Parks

Per your specific request, the interviews that have not already taken place will be recorded by staff and links posted to the project website.

As previously reported to City Council, public engagement meetings are not scheduled to commence until next month; the first public meeting will be an “Ask a Planner” session which is scheduled for May 3. Online participation and public outreach begin later this month.

Louis M. Buonpane
Chief of Staff
City of Raleigh
City Manager’s Office
(p) 919-996-4275 (direct)

When “We The People” No Longer Matters

Today at Raleigh City Council, Mayor Baldwin made a motion to approve a rezoning at Buffaloe and North New Hope roads. I voted against this motion but the motion passed with a vote of 5 to 3.

Those voting against the motion included Corey Branch, Stomie Forte, and myself.

Those voting in favor of the motion were Mary-Ann Baldwin, Nicole Stewart, Jonathan Melton, Patrick Buffkin, and David Knight.

Here is my full statement that I gave during the meeting:

The residents of Buffaloe and North New Hope have worked in good faith with City Council and staff to create a small area plan and zoning that is a win-win. Key policies related to heights and neighborhood transitions have been well defined and established through language in the small area plan and through zoning established just five years ago.

We are now being asked to change all of that with the claim it isn’t enough. The developer is asking for greater height and is asking that we reduce the neighborhood transitions. The residents who worked so hard and in collaboration with Council and the City oppose this request and ask that we support development within the parameters that they worked with the city to establish.

More than 500 have signed an online petition and a group of representatives have diligently attended every meeting. They have clearly stated that they support development within the policies of the small area plan and the neighborhood transitions established by current zoning.

In addition, upon review of this case the Planning Commission voted 5 to 3 to recommend denial of the rezoning with the majority agreeing that the city’s prior commitments are in the public interest.

There is the argument that we are in a housing crisis and that Council must approve any and every opportunity for more housing. The theory is that housing prices are high because of a lack of supply. However, that theory is overly simplistic and doesn’t hold up to scrutiny. Many factors affect prices and shifts in the demand curve for housing. Two prominent factors include high household incomes and speculative property investing. But there are many others. 

It is also NOT true that Council hasn’t approved enough housing. In the five years since the small area plan and zoning were established for this location, Council has approved nearly 200 zoning changes throughout the city to allow the construction of 62,000 housing units which is enough to house 142,000 people. This is more than 300% greater than Raleigh’s current growth rate.

Our citizens in the Buffaloe/New Hope area worked in cooperation and good faith to create a small area plan and zoning just five years ago that was unanimously approved by Council that was hailed as a win-win. The parameters under that plan and zoning allow the development of housing as well as commercial development to serve the area. People are not saying no to growth. Housing growth can happen with three story buildings as prescribed by the small area plan and the neighborhood transitions prescribed by the current zoning. But, changing these parameters after residents worked in cooperation with Council and the City to establish them is not in the public interest. People trusted their government and are asking us now to honor that trust.

Therefore, I do not support the motion to approve Z-45 and will vote no.

Staying Home for the City Council Retreat

On March 12th and 13th the Raleigh City Council will hold its annual retreat. This will be a face-to-face, in person event at the Convention Center and will be a public meeting.

I have agreed to join this meeting virtually. I will not be participating in person. There are several reasons why I have made this decision.

Coronavirus Variants
Multiple variants of the virus that causes COVID-19 are in circulation. The variants tend to spread more easily and quickly and may increase the risk of death and complications. Variants have been detected in the US and currently some variants have been reported in 42 states including North Carolina. It is expected that these variants will become the dominant virus unless precautions are taken to slow the spread.

Phase 3 allowing elected officials to be vaccinated began March 3rd meaning that Council members can receive the first shot (but not the second shot) sometime prior to the retreat on March 12th. It is recognized that it takes two weeks for immunity to begin and three weeks to obtain the second shot. Full immunity does not happen immediately. Others at the retreat such as staff members and the public might not have the opportunity to qualify for vaccination yet and will be at risk.

Avoid Social Gathering
Without question, the most effective way to avoid exposure is to avoid social gatherings. On January 6th the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services issued a Secretarial Directive that states the following:

Avoid gatherings with individuals you do not live with. Multiple households should not co-mingle. If you cannot avoid gathering, keep the gathering strictly outdoors and as small as possible. Wear a mask at all times and avoid activities such as eating that require removal of your mask.

As of February 24th, the guidance from the Governor’s office is if you cannot avoid gathering indoors, limit the number to 25 people. Meeting and conference spaces are limited to 30% occupancy and a maximum of 250.

In his February 24th statement, Governor Cooper said, “People are losing their loved ones each day. Many of us are weary, but we cannot let the weariness win.”

Clearly, gathering virtually will be preferable to meeting in-person. Meeting in-person should not be taken lightly and be reserved for exceptional circumstances.

The 3 W’s
To prevent or slow the spread of the virus it is recommended to wear a mask, wash hands frequently, and wait at least 6 feet apart. These precautions help a lot but are not perfect and are not a substitute for avoiding social gatherings whenever possible.

Virtual as an Alternative
Virtual meetings have proven to be an effective alternative to in-person meetings. While virtual meetings are not the same as in-person meetings, they are recognized as an effective way to conduct business while preventing the spread of Coronavirus.

Setting an Example
As an elected official it is important to set a good example. I think that we should continue to encourage avoiding in-person social gatherings. We are not out of the woods yet. Phase 3 just began. Phase 4 won’t begin until the end of March. The general population will not be vaccinated until phase 5. Until then we should do all we can to support each other to safe and healthy.

Meeting Raleigh’s Housing Needs

Based on data below, an average of 13,000 housing units have been approved per year over the last five years. Population projections suggest that Raleigh’s population will grow to about 683,000 by the year 2040. Thus the annual number of units needed is about 4500. Over the last five years, Raleigh City Council has approved zoning requests for up to 64,981 units – a rate that is 2.9 times the rate needed to accommodate our population growth.

Recently, I posed some questions to the City of Raleigh Planning Director, Patrick Young, to get some real data on how well the City is meeting our housing needs. Here are the results:

Over the past five years there have been several rezoning cases that intended to add housing in the City of Raleigh. If we analyze these rezoning cases, how many units would we have if they were all built out?

The table below summarizes the total number of units that would be added if all approved zoning cases were built out to their maximum residential entitlement. Note that it includes unit data for approved rezoning cases between 2016 and 2020. The “Total Proposed Units” is the maximum potential number of units that were approved through rezoning. The “Units Added Through Rezoning” is the change in the number of units between the previous zoning and the approved zoning.

Note, although Council has approved 190 rezoning requests for nearly 65,000 units over the last 5 years, there is a lag before construction actually begins. Over the last 5 years, 14,262 have been permitted (important: the data for 2020 is not yet complete). Obviously this leaves many more in the pipeline to be permitted and built.

Z-45-20 – A Rezoning Request for Buffaloe and North New Hope

I do not support this rezoning request. Here is why.

Z-45-20 is a rezoning request to allow up to 350 apartments at the corner of Buffaloe and North New Hope.

Residents in the area are concerned about adding that much density to that location. Among their concerns are traffic and traffic accidents.

We received a detailed report about traffic accidents over the past 5 years near the intersection. There are two reports. One is for Buffaloe rd and one is for North New Hope rd. Here are the summary statistics:

North New Hope:

There have been 301 crashes.

There have been 3 fatal crashes

There have been 163 injuries

There has been $1,974,772 in estimated property damage


There have been 172 crashes

There has been 1 fatality

There have been 95 injuries

There has been $1,150,701 in estimated property damage.

All together that is 473 crashes, 4 fatalities, 258 injuries and $3 million in property damage. The intersection is one of the most dangerous in Wake County

The residents from the North New Hope/Buffaloe road area have expressed their disagreement with this rezoning and have asked that we not approve it. Many of these residents have lived in the area for many years while others are relatively new. None that I am aware of supports this rezoning.

The residents of this area have been very involved with their community. Just five years ago they worked hard and diligently to create a small area plan to guide development at this location. In addition, the current zoning was also established just five years ago with buffers and protections that were the result of of successful, good faith negotiations.

The residents trusted their government and worked in good faith with City staff and City Council, developers, and land owners to develop a plan and zoning that will provide for responsible growth and development. After many months of hard work the Council agreed unanimously with the outcome of that hard work.

The residents find, as I think anyone would, that the proposed rezoning is inconsistent with the small area plan. The proposed heights are too tall. A key policy of the small area plan sets a maximum of three stories and 50 feet in height. The proposed rezoning requests four stories and 59 feet – 20% over the maximum specified in the plan.

The current zoning provides transition areas that include an earthen berm, solid concrete walls, and heavy vegetation. The proposed rezoning removes those neighborhood protections, eliminates the berm, the concrete walls, most of the vegetation, reduces the size of the transition area and provides, instead, a small, wooden fence. Instead of an adequate transition, they will have a parking lot facing their homes.

These residents, in good faith, worked with the City staff and Council on a plan for good development that benefits both land owner and the community. Now, an out-of-state developer is asking that we overturn all of that in order for them to maximize their profits.

We would all like to see a compromise. Unfortunately, the residents and the developer are far apart on this rezoning case. While some concessions have been made, those concessions do not equate to compromise. Compromise means choices that all parties are willing to live with. However, in this case, the gap is great.

The developer has asked us to close the hearing and make a choice. They have signaled that negations are done. The concessions are clear but compromise is far away.

I find the proposed rezoning to be inconsistent with the small area plan and is not in the best interest of the public. I am particularly concerned about high density, car dependent growth at one of the most dangerous intersections in Raleigh and in Wake County. This proposed rezoning and proposed project promotes sprawl when we want to encourage development on our transit corridors and in growth areas.

Given the history of this area, the hard work and good faith of its citizens, the vision that the citizens have for the future of this area, and past agreements with the City and Council on that vision, I cannot support this rezoning as is and I hope that the developer will seriously add conditions that will lead to compromise.

Statement on Display of Swastika

My Uncle, Irvin Keyser, Jr, was my mom’s brother. He served in World War II and fought in Europe at the Battle of the Bulge and at the Remagen Bridge as well as others. He, like so many of his generation fought to preserve democracy and fought to end the atrocities of Hitler and the Nazis.

It is disheartening that anyone in our Country today would dishonor our Country by displaying any symbol of hate. I condemn as much as I possibly can the display recently of a Swastika on Old Falls of Neuse Road in Raleigh. I condemn the display of all symbols of hate and violence, of slavery, and inhumanity.

The cycle of hatred must end. I truly believe that the vast majority of people oppose these displays of hatred. We must celebrate our differences and not act out of self-righteous superiority towards others.

Let us pledge to oppose the acts of violence that have become all too commonplace. Let us work and live together in peace. Let us commit to good will each and every day.

Thank you,
David Cox, Raleigh City Council

Remembering Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. attended segregated public schools in Georgia, graduating from high school at the age of fifteen.

He received the B. A. degree in 1948 from Morehouse College, a distinguished Negro institution of Atlanta.

He was awarded a B.D. In 1951 from Crozer Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania after three years of study.

He received a doctorate in 1955 from Boston University.

In 1954, Martin Luther King became pastor of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama and had become a member of the executive committee of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

On December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks was commuting home on Montgomery’s Cleveland Avenue bus from her job at a local department store. She was seated in the front row of the “colored section.” When the white seats filled, the driver, J. Fred Blake, asked Parks and three others to vacate their seats. The other black riders complied, but Parks refused. She was arrested and fined $10, plus $4 in court fees.

In response Martin Luther accepted leadership for a non-violent bus boycott in Montgomery. The boycott lasted 382 days. During these days of boycott, King was arrested, his home was bombed, and he was subjected to personal abuse. On December 21, 1956, the Supreme Court of the United States declared unconstitutional the laws requiring segregation on buses.

In 1957 he was elected president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, an organization formed to provide leadership for the civil rights movement. From 1957 to 1968, Martin Luther traveled over six million miles and spoke over twenty-five hundred times, wrote five books and numerous articles.

In April 1963 the Southern Christian Leadership Conference launched a campaign to end segregation in Birmingham, Alabama. The campaign was designed to have mass meetings, sit-ins, boycotts, marches, and voter registrations. On April 10, the city government obtained a state circuit court injunction against the protests.

In response King declared, “We cannot in all good conscience obey such an injunction which is an unjust, undemocratic and unconstitutional misuse of the legal process.”

On Good Friday, 12 April, King was arrested in Birmingham after violating the anti-protest injunction and was kept in solitary confinement. During this time King wrote the “Letter from Birmingham Jail.” After intervention by the Kennedy administration, Martin Luther was permitted to call home and arrange for his release which followed on April 20th.

On May 2nd more than 1,000 African American students attempted to march into downtown Birmingham, and hundreds were arrested. When hundreds more gathered the following day, Commissioner Connor directed local police and fire departments to use force to halt the demonstrations. During the next few days children were blasted by high-pressure fire hoses, clubbed by police officers, and attacked by police dogs. The images appearing in national media resulted in outrage.

Attorney General Robert Kennedy sent Burke Marshall, his chief civil rights assistant, to facilitate negotiations between prominent black citizens and representatives of Birmingham’s business leadership. Eventually an agreement was reached that included the removal of “Whites Only” and “Blacks Only” signs in restrooms and on drinking fountains, a plan to desegregate lunch counters, an ongoing “program of upgrading Negro employment,” the formation of a biracial committee to monitor the progress of the agreement, and the release of jailed protesters on bond.

Birmingham segregationists responded to the agreement with a series of violent attacks. President Kennedy ordered 3,000 federal troops to Birmingham and prepared to federalize the Alabama National Guard. On September 15th, Ku Klux Klan members bombed Birmingham’s Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, killing four young girls. King delivered the eulogy at the funeral of three of the victims, preaching that the girls were “the martyred heroines of a holy crusade for freedom and human dignity.”

On August 28, 1963, more than 200,000 Marched on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in the nation’s capital. During this event, Martin Luther delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech.

After the march, King and other civil rights leaders met with President Kennedy and Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson at the White House, where they discussed the need for bipartisan support of civil rights legislation eventually resulting in the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965.

In 1964, at the age of thirty-five, Martin Luther King, Jr., was the youngest man to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. When notified of his selection, he announced that he would turn over the prize money of $54,123 to the furtherance of the civil rights movement.

On the evening of April 4, 1968, while standing on the balcony of his motel room in Memphis, Tennessee, where he was to lead a protest march in sympathy with striking garbage workers of that city, he was assassinated.

Statement on Events in Washington

What happened yesterday in our nation’s capital was inexcusable. Doors and windows were smashed, people were injured, people came armed, there were armed standoffs, shots were fired, and four people died. I condemn these acts of sedition and insurrection. What happened yesterday must be thoroughly investigated and everyone responsible must be held accountable. I support our elected officials in Washington as they consider how to respond to these events.

Many members of Congress and others have proposed Impeachment or invoking the 25th Amendment. I support such action.