City of Raleigh takes personal approach to planning and development

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- The City of Raleigh is taking a more personal approach in how it gathers feedback from communities on future development plans.

Neighborhoods nestled up along the south and east edge of Dorothea Dix Park are ripe for change and encompass what city planners call the Dix Edge area. But for Dieneaker Shaw, the area is home.

"It makes you feel comfortable to live next to neighbors that you know, neighbors that care about each other, that worry about each other," said Shaw, Raleigh's first community ambassador. "And it's constantly growing tremendously."

How the capital city grows is top of mind for Matthew Klem, a senior planner with the city. Klem hired Shaw in February to work with her neighbors to create a vision.

"(A vision) for what type of developments they would like to see in their community in the future if things change," said Klem.

The Dix Edge Area Study zeroed in on historically lower income communities where properties sell and rent below market value.

"One of the key purposes of our study is to engage with those residents, educate everyone about the pressures for change and development, why their communities may be particularly vulnerable or susceptible to change," said Klem.

Shaw has been knocking on doors, promoting planning meetings, and spreading information about the study that will help set policy for future development.

"I care about the changes," Shaw said. "I care about what can we do to help everyone to be involved where they don't feel like they're not listened to."

In August, Shaw suggested the city host a cookout to help better engage neighborhoods in the Dix Edge Area Study.

Under the gazebo at Eliza Pool Park, Klem and other city staff presented the study and surveyed the crowd of residents who turned out.

Klem was also able to listen and learn from residents about more pressing concerns and needs.

As a result, the city found out Eliza Pool Park had been without soccer goals and was able to install two new ones.

For Shaw, the community's ambassador, it was time in her own community well spent.

"It feels like my time was valuable that they did come out, they did come to the meeting, they did come express their concerns that they care about their community and their surrounding neighborhoods," she said.

The City of Raleigh has a total of two ambassadors working with the Dix Edge Area Study and three more with Station Area Planning: New Bern.

Ambassadors are paid $15 an hour and Klem said the city will hire for future projects as needed.
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