Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Third Ward Board Applications / Christmas Trees / Mayor's Town Hall / Holiday Ho-Ho-Home Tour

Board Applications are due in December.  If you have a positive attitude, play well with others, and want to work on behalf of the neighborhood, join the association’s Board of Directors.  Directors serve two year terms and commit to executing a “personal project” benefiting the neighborhood.  Submit this form to me to be a part of the leadership team for the most dynamic neighborhood in Charlotte.
Not one but two Christmas Tree lighting ceremonies will take place this Thursday, December 2nd.  Gateway Village and The Square will host their annual events – both beginning at 6:00p.
Mayor Anthony Foxx invites you to a Mayor’s Town Hall this Wednesday, December 1st, beginning at 7:30p at the Charlotte Museum of History.
Our neighbors in Fourth Ward will host their annual Holiday Home Tour this weekend.  For more information, see this site.  Happy holidays to all friends and neighbors!

Monday, November 29, 2010

ULI Report: West Trade Street/Beatties Ford Road Corridor

Pat Mumford, executive of the City's Neighborhood & Business Services department, sends the following:
"I am pleased to share with you the final report from the Urban Land Institute’s Technical Advisory Panel for the Beatties Ford West Trade Corridor. Your input and support was invaluable to the Panel as they completed their work. The report clearly recognizes the good work and great plans already in place for the study area and provides a pathway for helping realize those plans. It also presents some new ideas that can help strengthen and grow the corridor.
The report and its findings have been recently presented to and supported by City Council and its Economic Development Committee. Neighborhood and Business Services staff is already working closely with Johnson C. Smith University and local property owners to begin implementation of some of the plan recommendations. We will continue to work in partnership with stakeholders to help implement the collective vision for the Beatties Ford/West Trade corridor."
The bulk of the study area occurs west of I-77, so Third Ward (and Fourth Ward) make up a small part of the report.  However, all development along the West Trade corridor between Gateway Station and Johnson C. Smith University is of interest to Third Ward.  Happy reading.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

The Thanksgiving Parade in Uptown Charlotte begins at 10:00a.  Happy Thanksgiving from the Third Ward Neighborhood Association!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Transportation Alphabet Soup: NCDOT, HSR, MTC

Another week; another series of major announcements impacting Third Ward.  Monday night's neighborhood meeting brought Allan Paul and Mike Shumsky of NCDOT from Raleigh (and local consultant Travis Pollack) to present detailed information on railroad infrastructure improvements leading to the development of Gateway Station.  Mr. Paul and Mr. Shumsky were well-informed about Uptown Charlotte and Third Ward specifically, having cultivated feedback through community meetings dating back almost ten years.  Their presentation can be found here; note that the "South End" improvements noted in the document relate to the section of track between Uptown and the airport (not the South End neighborhood).  Bottom line: Design charrettes for Gateway Station will begin in 2011, though its final design and construction will wait upon a public-private partnership (i.e., private investment) or possibly a major federal grant.
Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood's remarks may have forecasted just such a grant.  Speaking in Charlotte Wednesday morning, LaHood indicated that North Carolina could be the recipient of high-speed rail (HSR) stimulus funds to be rejected by Ohio and Wisconsin (at least one editorialist disagrees).  The Charlotte hub for the HSR line linking south to Atlanta and north to Raleigh, Washington, D.C., New York City, and Boston will be, of course, Gateway Station.
Not to be outdone, the Metropolitan Transit Commission entered the fray Wednesday afternoon.  The MTC decided to pursue an accelerated schedule for the Blue Line Extension (extending the current Blue Line toward UNC-Charlotte) in a "scaled-back version."  For the commuter Red Line serving Lake Norman communities - to be based at Gateway Station - the MTC recommended seeking private investment.
Apart from the section from the arena down Elizabeth Avenue, implementation of the streetcar has been postponed indefinitely.
For more on NCDOT's work on Gateway Station, see this website.  2011 will present big opportunities for Third Ward residents to shape the most significant infrastructure investment in the region.  Please plan to join the discussion.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Villa Heights Magnet Information

Darlene Heater has provided the below information regarding the Villa Heights magnet program, coming to Irwin Avenue this fall.  Please also be aware of two Open Houses at the school to explain their program.  The first is tomorrow morning at 9:30a; the second is in December.  I have been told that the school will add an extra kindergarten class next fall, which should open up some seats for neighborhood kids in that age group.

Talent Development (grades 3-5): Students entering grades 3-5 must have TD certification for gifted children [apparently this is not required of Kindergarten entrants].  Families seeking more information on TD certification may contact the TD/Advanced Studies Department at (980) 343-6955.
How do I get an application for a magnet program? If you are a new CMS student and enroll prior to December 14, 2009, you will be mailed a letter with your ID number and PIN in order to participate in the First Magnet Lottery. If you are a current CMS student, you will receive a letter with your ID number and PIN from your current school. Current and new CMS students can expect the letter in early January, 2010. New students who enroll December 15 – May 21, 2010 will be eligible to participate in the Second Magnet lottery March 15 – June 4, 2010 at 10:00pm.  Visit the Applying to a Magnet School page for detailed instructions.
What is the timeline for applying to a magnet program? The First Magnet lottery application period for the 2010-2011 school year is January 8 - February 8, 2010 at 10:00pm.  A Second Magnet lottery will be held for families new to CMS who enroll between December 15 and May 21, 2010.  The application period for the Second Magnet lottery is March 15 – June 4, 2010 at 10:00pm.  Visit the Applying to a Magnet School page for detailed instructions.
How does the lottery work? The lottery is used to assign students to magnet programs.  When there are more students applying to a program than there are seats available, the lottery runs on the following priorities:

  1. Students who live within 1/3 mile of a full magnet school, up to 20% of seats available at that school. 
  2. Students who are assigned to a Title I Choice School, up to 10% of seats available. 
  3. a) Students who live outside the transportation zone for Randolph Middle School will have a priority to attend Randolph. b) Students who live outside the transportation zone for Piedmont Open Middle School will have a priority to attend Piedmont. The number of students admitted to either school under this priority is limited to 10% of the available seats in the school. Transportation will not be provided to these students.  
  4. Students who live in a magnet feeder area will be admitted in order of lottery number with the following limits: The maximum number of students admitted under this priority from any one elementary home school area must be proportional to the total number of potential applicants in the magnet feeder area. 
  5. All students who live in the magnet feeder area will be admitted in order of lottery number. 
  6. All students who live outside the magnet feeder area will be admitted in order of lottery number. Transportation will not be provided to these students.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Third Ward Arts & Science Council Project UPDATED

Yesterday the Arts & Science Council launched its beautification project at the Virginia Paper Company Building, on the site planned for the Knights Stadium (map).  The windows will be covered with vinyl panels designed by students at Hopewell High School and based on the work of artist and Third Ward native Romare Bearden. (Images 1, 2, 3.)
Our thanks go to both the ASC and Hopewell High School for your work!
Update: A News 14 Carolina story and video can be found here.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Gateway Station Meeting Tonight

A reminder of tonight's meeting: Michael Shumsky of NCDOT will present information on the railway projects leading to the development of Gateway Station in Third Ward.  Gateway Station will be the future location for a new Amtrak station and the southern terminus of Charlotte’s commuter Red Line.  The meeting will begin at 6:00p tonight at the Gateway Village YMCA.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Elementary School Update

I know everyone has been keeping an eye on school changes affecting the neighborhood.  As a parent myself, I know also that school choice is a family's own decision, so be assured that the association will not play a role in that.  However, some information has been provided to me that is worth sharing.

A surprise outcome of CMS deliberations is that Irwin Avenue Elementary will not become an administrative center, but will instead become home to the current Villa Heights Elementary school.  Villa Heights is a K-5 learning immersion and talent development magnet program, and was one of the ten highest scoring elementary schools in CMS in 2009.  Its NC School Report Card can be found here; the school is categorized as an "Honor School of Excellence," the highest rating.  Paul Reali, president of the Villa Heights PTA (website), has already reached out to me via e-mail.

To be sure, the "home school" for Third Ward and Fourth Ward will be Ashley Park Elementary.  The NC School Report Cards website categorizes Ashley Park as as "Low Performing," its lowest rating.  However, Mr. Reali indicated that  children in the neighborhood of a magnet program have an advantage in the school lottery.  CMS information on applying for the lottery can be found here.  Please note the deadlines.

If you are interested in being included in a neighborhood e-mail list of parents and others interested in schools, please contact me.  With sufficient interest, there will be an opportunity to have Mr. Reali speak at a neighborhood meeting.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

CMPD On the Beat! with Holiday Shopping Tips

Courtesy of Sergeant Nick Pellicone, Response Area 2 Commander, CMPD's latest update can be found here.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Villa Heights Coming to Irwin

WCNC has just reported that the original plan for Irwin Avenue Elementary's closure as a school has changed.  The Villa Heights Elementary magnet program is now slated to come to Irwin Avenue.  More details will be found here as they emerge.

School Vote Tonight

The school board will vote tonight on school closures including Irwin Avenue Elementary School.  Superintendent Peter Gorman has recommended approval of this motion assigning students of Third Ward (and Fourth Ward) to Ashley Park Elementary School.

Charlotte Center City Partners VP of Urban Living Darlene Heater sent the following to Uptown neighborhood leaders last week:

"All, As you probably are aware, CMS is proposing system-wide changes to Charlotte’s public schools.  I am providing the attached [1, 2] summary of how proposed changes may impact Uptown and South End (to the best of my knowledge and understanding).

Michael Smith and I have been advocating for CMS and the board of education to consider Center City as one neighborhood.  Further, we propose that all Center City students be assigned to the Dilworth/Alexander Graham/Myers Park feeder.  We have talked with CMS staff (Dennis LaCaria and Pete Gorman), met personally with Board Chair Eric Davis, and have contacted Board of Education members.

We have elected to advocate directly with CMS staff and board members and feel this strategy will provide a better opportunity to engage decision makers in meaningful dialogue than taking a public stand for/against proposals in these highly emotional public forums.

We encourage you to advocate to CMS board members too.
Irwin Elementary is in District 3 - Joyce Waddell
Dilworth Elementary is in District 4 - Tom Tate
Alexander Graham is in District 5 - Eric Davis
Myers Park High is in District 5 - Eric Davis
At large board members are:  Kaye McGarry, Trent Merchant, Coach Joe White

We want you to know that we feel this is a priority issue for Center City and that we are advocating for our Center City residents and students.

Call or email me if you have any questions.

Friday, November 5, 2010

City Market / 2020 Vision Plan / Gateway Station

I want to thank the people who have recently responded to my requests for feedback, particular to the development of communication with Charlotte Center City Partners (FAQ).  This initiative seems to have gained urgency and relevance in just the past few days.  Please keep communication flowing to cccpfeedback@third-ward.org.

A critical component of steering Uptown development in a way benefiting residents’ quality of life is participation.  Please mark your calendar to attend at least one of the following meetings:

We have an excellent topic and speaker on deck for the final neighborhood meeting of 2010.  Michael Shumsky of NCDOT will be on hand to give a presentation on the railway projects leading to the development of Gateway Station in Third Ward.  As the future location for a new Amtrak station, and eventually the southern terminus of Charlotte’s commuter Red Line, Gateway Station will make a significant impact as a major regional transit hub.  The meeting will begin at 6:00p on Monday, November 15th at the Gateway Village YMCA.

Board member Gray Pendleton was instrumental in facilitating this meeting, and has been following the different grants closely.  He has provided more information to be posted on third-ward.org next week in preparation for the meeting on the 15th.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Bechtler Museum Family Day

"Go beyond crayons at the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art’s Family Day November 6. The event will provide hands-on art activities for kids of all ages and specially designed museum tours for families. Art projects take place from noon to 4:30 p.m. in the museum’s classroom and video gallery, both located on the second floor. Most art activities illustrate techniques and styles used by artists in the museum’s current exhibition, School of Paris: European Abstraction Post World War II.
Tours of the museum for families will be offered on the hour between noon and 3 p.m. and special tours just for kids will be offered at 1 and 3 p.m. All tours are docent led and include sketching, scavenger hunts and a junior art critic game.
Museum admission on Family Day is free for those under 18 years old; all others receive a discounted ticket price of $4. All Family Day activities are free."