Wilmington City Council: Updates from WPD, Live Nation to take over Greenfield Lake Amphitheater management

Big issues covered in Tuesday's Wilmington City Council meeting

WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Wilmington City Council faced a loaded agenda Tuesday night for their first regular meeting of October with items ranging from a Wilmington Police Department update on activities, to future land development and live entertainment.

Wilmington Police Update

Wilmington Police Chief Donny Williams spoke to the council about what he calls an ongoing cultural reset process within his department.

Chief Williams says he is two-thirds of the way through holding one-on-one meetings with all his officers following his permanent promotion to Chief and the firing of three officers for racist remarks caught on camera.

[The Wilmington Police Department continues to receive national attention after the firing of three white officers for racist remarks caught on camera.]

Chief Williams said some conversations have sparked ideas about what can be done locally in regards to use of force, and recently he has implemented a new hierarchy—naming patrol corporals as assistant field supervisors to increase supervision of what he described as a ‘young workforce’ in the field to help minimize mistakes.

Two officers are going through training as part of the A.B.L.E Project which stands for Active Bystandership for Law Enforcement urging officers to intervene and speak up when they witness other officers make mistakes.

The department’s mission statement has also been updated for the first time in about twenty years, and department leaders will participate in Fair and Impartial Policing Training in December. High ranking officers will become trainers to then provide the training to the rest of the force.

He also praised the officers who responded to a recent shooting in the Creekwood community who were fired upon and did not fire back, according to police.

The Chief reviewed many community initiatives, including a new partnership to work with the New Hanover County Office of Inclusion and Diversity, led by former WPD public information officer Linda Thompson. The department will also be one of several in the state of North Carolina serving as a pilot site for a new “Citation in Lieu of Arrest” program in collaboration with the U.N.C. School of Government.

“The policy promotes least harm resolutions and aligns citation practice with the requirements of state bail law. In addition, the policy reinforces the importance of community and increased law enforcement efficiency,” said Williams.

Williams requested, and unanimously received, funding approval by Council to utilize N.C. Drug Tax Funds to pay for a youth job training program in partnership with Cape Fear Community College. The department requested $7,000 to pay for several young people to attend CFCC’s Truck Driver Training Course or the Line Worker’s Course.

Contract proposal for Live Nation to take over amphitheater management

After a continuance during council’s September 1 meeting, all council members, with the exception of Councilman Kevin Spears who voted nay, voted in favor of the proposal.

City staff say use of the Hugh Morton Amphitheater at Greenfield Lake has improved 60% in the last five years while being managed by the city’s parks department which does not have any staff trained in the concert industry.

Despite that, they consider it a very successful venture and believe new management would build on their success without requiring any major change to operations.

Live Nation will take over the day-to-day operations of the venue.

The proposal includes allowances for other promoters' events as well as 30% staffing by non-profits who have in the past worked events as fundraisers for their groups.

Closing a development loophole

City council tabled discussion on a proposal to re-write a 2002 land development code which some believe has been misused to form high-density dwellings.

[Wilmington leaders to vote on closing development loophole for mixed-use projects]

Councilors will hold a work session with the planning commission before their next meeting on Monday, October 20th when the future of commercial district mixed-use zoning will be back on the agenda.

$300,000 allocated for Riverwalk Visitor Information Center renovations

City staff say the center was built 30 years ago and is in need of safety improvements and repairs.

Some repairs are already underway to the Riverwalk itself.

[Downtown Wilmington Riverwalk undergoing repairs]

Staff want to use the space to support tourism and discourage crime in the area. You can find the full proposal here.

Staff intend to work on the design and take public feedback in early 2021, with the goal of construction being finished in 2022.

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For more information, you can always find Wilmington City Council agendas, minutes and meeting information here.

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