Monday, December 05, 2005

Blatant promotion

Don't you want the winner of the WCNC touchdown dance contest to be a native Elizabethan? Of course you do. That's why you'll rush over to the WCNC site and vote for my son Alan -- born at our own Presbyterian Hospital -- and his friend Riley (of Dilworth). Look for the "Web Poll" box. (Warning: Registration required.)

Monday, November 28, 2005

More neighbors

What is the biggest threat to home values in Elizabeth? Could it be this? Or this? Or this? Or this?

More than 3,000 new downtown condos have been announced in the last year, according to The Charlotte Observer. People who buy high-rise condos and people who buy old homes in Elizabeth are likely two different markets. But there's bound to be overlap. I'd love to live downtown. And I know of at least one couple who sold their Elizabethan house and bought downtown.

Part of what keeps housing prices high in Elizabeth -- and Dilworth and Plaza-Midwood and others -- is the proximity to downtown. The supply of housing close to downtown is limited. What will the affect of thousands of new homes downtown be on our neighborhood ?

Friday, November 18, 2005

Bring dessert

When I tell non-Elizabethans about my neighborhood I'm quick to mention recurring events like the progressive dinner, the July 4 parade, the road race, the pot luck dinner and of course the annual Elizabeth Neighborhood Holiday Party. It might be the time of year or it might be the free wine and beer, but the holiday party is always a blast. And Jane and Roxie's house is the perfect spot for holiday cheer. See you there, Dec. 10. Bring a dessert.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Historic Elizabeth

What do Dilworth, Plaza-Midwood, Fourth Ward and Wesley Heights have that Elizabeth doesn't have? Historic District Designation. Should that change?

John Rogers of the Charlotte Historic District Commission talked to the ECA board at the October meeting. I think there's interest on the board in persuing historic designation. I also think there's a lot of opposition in the neighborhood. Last time the ECA pushed for Historic District Designation there was a lawsuit. Can we avoid that this time?

What do you think? What's good about historic designation? What's bad about it? Post a comment, or better yet join Under the Water Tower and tell us what you think.

Honda owners read this

If you drive a Honda, live in Elizabeth and don't use The Club, you are asking for your car to be stolen. Car thefts increased from 26 to 61 this year over last year according to Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police. Many were Hondas. I speak from experience, having my former Honda stolen not once but twice. A neighbor two doors down had hers stolen. A local mechanic showed me how easy it is to break into and start a Honda with an ordinary screwdriver. You've been warned!

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Tree hacking

These trees on Bay Street were recently pruned by a Duke Power subcontractor, setting off a flurry of emails from concerned Elizabethans to Duke. Duke and the city of Charlotte agree: The trees are planted in the wrong place, badly decayed, unsightly and need to be removed. Well they're certainly unsightly now. Why is it that other cities can bury their power lines?

Neighborhood pictures

Maya Packard writes: "Ken Magas has set up a neighborhood account at for pictures from neighborhood events. Anyone with the password can view, add to, or create albums, so we can all share our photos from community events (like the Halloween party on Monday; Ken's album from that is already posted)."

If you'd like to know more about it, add a comment to this post and I'll give you the username and password. Of course if you'd like to post a picture or two you can do it right here at Under the Water Tower. It's easy and free and open to everyone. Add a comment to this post and I'll tell you how.

Monday, October 31, 2005


Weird people in costumes were strolling the neighborhood Monday night, and none of them were Hardin Minor. Here young McClain (Winn, please correct me if I spelled that wrong) proudly shows off his bat wings. Turnout seemed a little lighter than usual this year, perhaps because Monday night isn't the best night for trick-or-treating.

Wall coverage

This year the local paper decided not to get scooped by the New York Times. The Associated Press has more.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Pumpkin update

The official lighting of the Pumpkin Wall 2005 has been delayed until Saturday night, so there's still time to come by the Clodfelter's and carve a few. The pictures surrounding this post were all taken today. There's quite a collection of pumpkin pulchritude, so come by Saturday and let's carve.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Pumpkin wall

DSCN0363The wall is back, this time on Clement Avenue. The official lighting is tomorrow night. Come by, bring a pumpkin and start carving. The photo above is from last year's pumpkin wall on Lamar. Hope to have photos of this year's wall tomorrow night.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Welcome Lower Scotland

I'd like to welcome Lower Scotland Neighborhood News to the blogsphere. Looks like a great place for Eastover folks to congregate. Those of you with kids in Eastover Elementary may want to read Lower Scotland's post on this. Nice work.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Crime and history

Can you live in Elizabeth and not care about the crime here or the historic district designation? Of course not. Both are on the agenda for the next ECA board meeting, Oct. 11 at 6:30 p.m. at what used to be our neighborhood park and rec center and is now a kind of ping pong private club or something. Officer Laura Nelson and Captain Mike Campagna will talk about crime prevention and there will be a discussion of the historic district designation. All are invited, even non-ping pong players.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Elizabeth Traditional School

Peter Tart writes:

Louise Woods, our District 4 School Board representative has notified us about a rapidly approaching opportunity to expand the "Priority Zone" for Elizabeth Traditional School. She needs comments from concerned parents concerning how to "structure" the expansion to benefit as much of the Elizabeth Community as possible. I would like to get this request out to the Community as fast as possible and need to hear from any and all those who have a stake in this change. She needs to sit with some of us to plot the potential new zone as soon as tomorrow and certainly no later than Monday afternoon, and would like a representative to attend the School Board meeting with her on Tuesday.

Lousie Woods can be reached at 704.536.0335 and Peter Tart ( ECA president) can be reached at 704.372.4147 or

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Hats off to Hardin

You really have to hand it to Hardin Minor for challenging an established incumbent in a primary. That's an uphill battle no matter what the office, and he got no help from the so-called liberal media. Meanwhile the rarity of Hardin's candidacy gives me another opportunity to lambaste our political setup.

Every office holder who ever voted for carving districts into safe havens for one party or the other ought to hang their heads in shame. Why was voter turnout 5% for Tuesday's primary? What's to turn out for? If you're a Republican living in a Democratic district, your vote doesn't count. You may as well stay home. Or not leave work, since election day is held on a day most people work.

Open a can of peas

During the last ECA meeting there was much talk about a can of peas. People can eat what they like, but I prefer them fresh. If not available, frozen are better than canned, in my opinion. In any event, I'm still not sure what all the fuss was about.

What's that? It wasn't "can of peas"? It was "canopy," like in tree? And the fuss was that we're rapidly losing our distinctive Elizabeth tree canopy and we should all look for places to plant large, mature trees to rebuild that canopy? Oh. Never mind then.

New comment policy

Due to comment spam I've had to turn on what calls "word verification" for anyone who leaves a comment. This keeps the machines from posting some of the comments you may have seen on this site (although I think I've deleted most of them). Sorry to make commenters go through that extra step.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

CATS in Elizabeth

They really will put in a street car that runs up Elizabeth Avenue. Where will the stops be? What route will the trolley take to get to Central Avenue? Funny you should ask. The Charlotte Area Transit System people are meeting Sept. 27 at 6:30 p.m. to talk about the Center City Corridor. That's us. Now is your chance to review the draft plan and let them know what you think. Don't wait until they start laying track.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Lawbreakers beware

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Captain Mike Campagna had good news and bad news last night at the annual ECA covered dish dinner and meeting. Bad news: crime is up. Good news: Elizabeth will get more police resources as a result. We're apparently a "hot spot" on the police chief's list, which means he wants to know what's going on here. Let's make sure we tell him. See something unusual? Call 911. Not sure whether to call 911? Call 911. See an officer on a bicycle? Stop and talk to him and tell him what you know about the neighborhood. We can't expect them to do it alone.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Cajun Question

I understand that there is a meeting next week with Cajun Queen and their architect. What do people understand about their request for rezoning?

Friday, September 09, 2005

The fig is up

Helen Schwab, the Observer's restaurant critic, gives three stars to our own Fig Tree restaurant. That would be the same Fig Tree restaurant that won the 2005 Historic Landmark Award from the Charlotte Historic District Commission. Not only did they do a superb job renovating the Lucas House, they can cook too.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Lemonade for New Orleans

DSCN0961.JPGSome Elizabeth children, concerned about the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, set up a lemonade stand Saturday, with all proceeds going to the American Red Cross. They raised $176.16.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Looking for Mr. Good Contractor

Great question: Can anyone recommend good contractors that are not over-priced?" Housing values are up in part because of all the renovating people are doing. I invite all Elizabethans who have dealt with a contractor lately to make recommendations -- or warnings -- about contractors and handypersons.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Covered dish smack-down

As if you needed another reason to attend the annual Elizabeth covered dish dinner meeting Sept. 13: Both candidates for Charlotte City Council District 1 have told Under the Water Tower they'll be there. What could be more exciting than democracy in action? Come hear Patsy Kinsey and Hardin Minor explain why they should be our city representative.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Stealing Volare

One of Myers Park's better restaurants is moving to Elizabeth. The Observer's Jeff Elder reports that Volare will move from Providence Road to Grubb Property's place on Elizabeth Avenue, just down the street from another killer spot, Carpe Diem. I like the intimate, cozy feel of the old Volare. The new will be twice as big, Elder reports. Can it maintain the feel? Also coming: Vinoteca and Loft 1523.

Neighborhood dishes

Come see our dishes. The Elizabeth Community Annual Dinner and Meeting will be held Sept. 13 at 6 p.m. at Broach Hall at St. John's Baptist Church. The food is secondary, although always quite good. The really meaty stuff is the reports we get from ECA committees, the speeches by the candidates and, of course, catching up with our neighbors. You can sign up to be an ECA member and to volunteer, elect officers and hear from local police. Bring yourself and your favorite dish. Questions? Call Rachel Eldridge at 704-258-6033.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Housing values up 18%

The average price of homes in the Elizabeth ZIP code of 28204 went up 18% last year, the Charlote Observer reports. That's one of the highest rates of increase in the county, although far short of the 35% of 28206, north of downtown. The numbers are for June 2004 to June 2005, and include only those homes sold through the Charlotte Multiple Listing Service. I understand that not too long ago homes in Elizabeth would sell without listing. Any real estate experts know if this is true? If so, what does it mean for the data?

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

True crime news

Crime is a serious issue in this neighborhood. That doesn't mean I want to turn this blog into all-crime-all-the-time. That would make it too much like prime time network TV. But I would like to mention this: Police recommend that you engrave your drivers license number on valuables. (I'm going to engrave mine on my kids.) And they have an engraving pen that they will let you borrow so you have no excuse. Contact our CMPD community liaison officer, Laura Nelson, at 704-943-2433 to borrow it. And hey, be careful out there.

Sunday, August 14, 2005


Originally uploaded by johnfmcbride.
Police have seen a rash of break-ins lately. Officer Rick Greene says: "People in the area have seen 2 B/Ms driving in the area in a U-haul truck over the past two days circling the block and stopping at people’s homes. Police that work in this area have advised me of three subjects that they are looking at as possible suspects. The mens names are: Daryl Walker (below), Eric Bernard Houston (above) and Timothy Houston." Call 911 if you see them on your street.

Trolleys, trains and buses

The Charlotte Observer had an interesting two-page spread on mass transit in the Sunday paper. (I'd link to it here, except I can't find it on their &*%#@ site. Guess they want you to buy the paper.) As is typical, the coverage hits the high notes for downtown and points farther away, leaving those of us near downtown wondering about things like: Will the street car route really have only one stop between Independence Park and The Plaza as the Observer map indicated?

Some people think mass transit is a waste. I don't. I see it as a key to preserving the livability of our neighborhood. As traffic continues to worsen, those stuck in it will complain bitterly and elected officials will rush to add and widen roads. We weren't able to stop Independence Boulevard from bisecting Elizabeth. How long can we block the state from widening 7th Street? Once drivers have a choice we can tell them: No more roads. Don't like the traffic? Take the train.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

We're noticed

Charlotte magazine's Buzz took a quick look at local blogs and "came up a little short." "Charlotte is missing out" the headline says. Well, some of Charlotte maybe. One blog that was noticed: our own Under the Water Tower, although you'll have to look at the hard copy to find it.

About last break-in

The last time my house was broken into the police arrested a suspect who was subsequently convicted and sent to jail (albeit for a very short time). What broke the case? I had photographs of the stolen items with serial numbers written on the back. The dim bulb burglar used his ID to pawn the stuff at a nearby pawn shop. A neighbor picked him out of a lineup. Open and shut case.

Without the serial numbers, however, this guy walks. As Sgt. Rich Stahnke of CMPD noted in a recent email to ECA members: "Pawn shops are required to keep a record of who pawned/sold them merchandise and our burglary detectives routinely search through pawn records looking for merchandise that has been reported stolen. The biggest hindrance to this system is the fact that many homeowners cannot provide us with the serial numbers for their merchandise."

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Is a Minor old enough to vote?

Leave it to an Elizabethan to breathe life into the local elections scene. Hardin Minor is running for city council. He'll face fellow Democrat Patsy Kinsey, giving us two strong candidates in District 1.

At least two incumbent city council members face no opposition. "An election without opportunity for serious opposition is a hoax." Politicians gerrymander districts to create safe havens for the party in power. They have the nerve to call this democracy and wonder why people turn away. Thank you Hardin for taking a stand for real democracy.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005


ECA board president Peter Tart says Elizabeth is eligible for matching grants from the city for: neighborhood improvements; crime and public safety; neighborhood organizational development; and neighborhood educational, recreational and cultural initiatives. The grants are for as much as $25,000. Personally, I think a blog qualifies for "neighborhood organizational development," don't you? I am ready for the city to cut me a check. However if you have better ideas on how Elizabeth could use grant money, bring them to the ECA meeting Aug. 9, 6:30 p.m. at the Hawthorne rec center.


Twenty-eight reported incidents in Elizabeth for the month of June. That's nearly one a day. Most of them are people taking what doesn't belong to them: 7 burglaries, 9 larcenies, 3 auto thefts. These are our homes being robbed and our cars being taken. What does it take for this to stop?

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Eliza-verse neighborhood

You may have already seen them. I just noticed them a couple of days ago: Poems pasted to trees and telephone poles around the neighborhod. In April I wrote about the poetry tree at the end of Lamar. But now poems are appearing elsewhere. Is it the work of the same person?

Monday, June 20, 2005

Read all about it

The new Elizabeth Community Association Newsletter is available, and you've probably already read the whole thing while I was out of town. If you haven't, check it out.

Sadly this is Babak Emadi's last issue as editor, as he explains on Page 2. He did a killer job and made it look easy. We all owe him and his family a big thank you for the work they and others did on the newsletter. If anyone can fill Babak's newsletter shoes, it's Hardin Minor. Make it easy on Hardin by emailing your newsletter contribution to him today: himinor AT carolina DOT rr DOT com. He'll be glad you did.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Property tax hike

Elizabethan Jennifer Roberts voted with the majority on the Mecklenburg County commision to raise property taxes 10.6%. The centerpiece of the budget is an additional $8 million for our schools, bringing the county's share to $291 million. If you spend time at any of our schools it's clear the need is there. According to's calculator, I'll pay less than $25 extra a month in property taxes. I'm willing to do that. What do you think?

Thursday, June 09, 2005

One board after another

As if the end of school and the start of vacation time weren't enough to keep me busy, I started building a tree house in my back yard. Both my wife and my neighbor Dan have had great fun skewering me for proceeding without plans. Like everything else I do I'm making it up as I go. I can't see where the last board will go. But I know where the next one belongs, and I'll put it there eventually. Will I ever finish? Do any of us?

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

ConvergeSouth 2005

ConvergeSouth 2005

Mark this on your calendar! October 7-8, 2005, Greensboro.
Huge event for bloggers, with great music, speakers, art, networking opportunities, education, ribaldry...the works.

Among the speakers already slated to appear are:
Amanda Congdon - Rocketboom
Michael Bowen - Cobb
Dave Winer - Scripting News
Ed Cone -
Jimmy Wales - Wikipedia
Tiffany Brown - BlackFeminism.Org
Sandy Carmany - Political Blogging

...and numerous others will be in attendance, most of whom you will find to be delightful and least that has been my experience.

Charlotte is supposed to have a blogger conference this fall, or even late summer, but that may, alas, be folded into the Greensboro event, since there are so few Charlotteans who seem to give much of a damn, I mean, durn. We shall see.

You can go ahead and register, and also get booked at hotels, get transportation and such from the Converge South website.

Feel free to volunteer with help, services, food, refreshments, money or what-have-you. OR...just show up! That is fine too, and you're guaranteed to have a good time.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Rails for Elizabeth?

CATS may buy the rails for our streetcars -- even though construction isn't scheduled to start for another two years. The Charlotte Observer reports CATS wants to be ready when Elizabeth Avenue gets rebuilt. Read the story here.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

New neighbor

If you have to cut down one of Elizabeth's prize trees, at least you can do something clever with it. That's what they did at the Cajun Queen restaurant on East 7th Street. The gator -- named Elizabeth, naturally -- was carved out of the stump with a chainsaw.

The new pavement is here! The new pavement is here!

DSCN0745It's as smooth as glass on East 8th Street. Get out the rollerblades. Other streets are green with envy. Now if only we could have our curbs back...

Friday, May 13, 2005

1 of 38 in April

Deborah Hirsch just moved to Elizabeth when a stranger stuck a gun in her face outside her apartment. Read her account in the Observer.

According to police there were 38 "incidents" in Elizabeth in April, including two armed robberies, two auto thefts, three commercial burlgaries, one residential burglary and one rape. I've lived in Elizabeth for 20 years. My home has been broken into three times. My car has been stolen twice.

What does it say about us that this is normal?

Subcontractor at Hawthorne Rec

ECA president Peter Tart reports on the situation at Hawthorne Rec Center:

"Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation is subcontracting the operation of the Hawthorne Rec Center to a sports club (badminton and table tennis). The current hours of operation are not expected to be reduced but some activities are likely to be relocated to the First Ward Recreation Center while some from other locations will be moved to the Hawthorne Center.

"Lola Massad, branch manager for wellness and recreation center services for the county (704.336.8460) said the changes are due to budget cutbacks. The board expressed disappointment that someone else was going to operate the facility and was assured that the changes likely would not be noticed. According to Massad an alternative is closing the center so this choice might be preferable. The sports club is expected to sign a 9-year contract to operate the facility."

What do you think about this? The rec center just got an update and now it's being turned over to a sports club? Will they put a fence around everything like they did with the baseball field at the other end of Independence Park? Should we just subcontract the entire park out to Dick's Sporting Goods and be done with it?

Thursday, May 12, 2005

trains and helicopters

I have two items for fellow neighbors of the Elizabeth Community, both concerning noise.

First, I noticed in the paper last week in the Dr. Traffic column that the state has approved "quiet horns" for trains. They can be used at road crossings that have new four arm guards so that there is not an opportunity for cars to drive around the crossing arms. The arms cost $100,000 per crossing. Does anyone else know anything about this or know how we can approach the city about getting this completed at Pecan and at Central? I think reduction of the train horns at night would greatly improve our quality of life (and sleep).

Second, has anyone else noticed a recent increase in the proximity and volume of helicopters in our neighborhood? Is there anything that can be done about it.


Thursday, May 05, 2005

What's up with Hawthorne Rec?

Find out Tuesday night at the Elizabeth Community Association's monthly board meeting. Lola Massad of Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation should be there Tuesday, May 10 at 6:30 p.m. at the rec center.

Delicious recipes

Maya shared the recipes from the progressive dinner. Find them here. Greek salad, Greek-style potatoes, zucchini, and tomatoes, the grilled chicken recipe I told you about before and a yummy citrus-mint punch. Enjoy.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Progressive dinner

As always, the annual Elizabeth progressive dinner was huge. The food and conversation at our host house, Rick Kreitlow's on East Fifth, was wonderful.

Lynne and Katherine share a laugh at the Kreitlow residence.

If you eat desserts standing up, as most of us did at the desert house on Bay Street (above), the calories don't count.

Did you take photos at the progressive dinner? Email them to me and I'll post them here. Or better yet, join the blog and post them yourself! Email me and I'll tell you how. Like the progressive dinner, it's free and easy -- and completely sugar-free.

Philosopher's stone

The Bayou Kitchen location is too prime to stand vacant long. Charlotte Magazine reports the brothers that started the great Thomas Street Tavern will reopen the BK as Philosopher's Stone. The sign out front says it will open in May. Well it's May. Let's see what kind of alchemy arises at the intersection of Caswell and Seventh.


Also in Charlotte Magazine, guess which 'hood nabbed the Best Of The Best award? Do you even have to ask? Of course we know it's the best. But it's nice to see independent verification.

Home tour and centennial celebration

Make plans now for the annual Elizabeth Community Association Homes Tour Oct. 8-9 and the centennial celebration of Independence Park. The ECA and Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation are planning an arts festival with music and activities to go along with the home tour. Should be a blast. As usual, helping hands -- and houses -- are needed. Contact Terry Lett at 704.377.0052 or email him.

May Day rally

At 2 p.m. today at Independence Park, part of the Bring The Troops Home Now Project. From the flyer: "Bring back May Day -- May Day grew out of the struggle of working people in this country more than a hundred years ago for an 8-hour work day with full day's pay. All over the world, working and poor people march on May Day to send the message that workers are united. Let's bring that unity and fighting spirit back."

Saturday, April 30, 2005

Getting saucy on Seventh

Just got back from a class at Cooking Uptown, and I'm still buzzing. Maybe the wine contributed. But when the executive chef of the Meeting House (I know, it's in another neighborhood) is telling me that the cure for excess tannins in a red wine reduction is carrots, I'm paying attention. Or when Christopher Zion says if your Bearnaise sauce tastes eggy add a little butter, I'm all ears. Or when he says a leak helps keep your vegetable stock clear, this is stuff I have to know. The class was called "Sauces, Sauces, Sauces..." and lasted a little over two hours. Afterward the class of about 23 ate halibut, chicken breast and culotte (or tri-tip) steak with about six different sauces. And some wine. Did I mention the wine? The best part: Every last penny of the $50 registration fee goes to the Council For Children.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Kotopoulo stin skara me skordalia

The scent you'll be smelling wafting from Elizabethan backyards this Saturday will be grilled chicken with almond garlic sauce, the main course for the annual progressive dinner. Or, as we say in Greece, Kotopoulo stin skara me skordalia. They say the sauce was one of the first the Greeks made and can be traced back 2,500 years. That may be. But I'm making a fresh batch. See you at the appetizer house at 6.

What grows in Elizabeth?

One of the nation's leading health-care technology consulting businesses. Ok, so Healthlink no longer has an Elizabeth presence. But it was born here. It grew up and moved to Houston, where it was bought by IBM. Know of another Healthlink in the making in Elizabeth? Email me.

He's everywhere

At the risk of this becoming all Winn all the time, there he is again on the Observer's Business front, touting his favorite restaurant (our very own Ethan's, natch). And again on Page 2D. Welcome to Under the Water Tower, Winn. We embrace celebrity. Now on to more important issues.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005


And I thought I lived on John McBride's street? Seriously, Elizabeth and I love living here in the Elizabeth neighborhood and appreciate the neighborhood, its walkability, wonderful people and the general ethos. While I am flattered by John McBride's comments, aka Justin McBride (see, I am more honored to see him and family here on our little piece of Charlotte, just north of the roundabout. We have been fortunate to both discover and inhabit a great area and we plan to reseide here for some time.

In actuality, cool is not something that describes me. Yet, about a year ago a group of us got together and thought that this effort - the Hot Jobs/Cool Communities project - might provide a good, solid foundation for Charlotte, especially with the upcoming Boomer retirement challenge. Projections are for a four-year trend of two workers exiting the workforce for every one entering. Charlotte needs at least its fair shake of the thinkers, the artists, the creatives, the innovators to have a thriving, exciting environment to continue to make this such a great place to live.


Monday, April 25, 2005

Winn's cool community

If you're involved with something called "Hot Jobs/Cool Communities" you better live in coolsville. So where does Winn Maddrey live? On my street in Elizabeth -- where else? Now that we're officially cool, I'm hoping some of it will rub off on me. (I'm also figuring I don't have to fix the front porch. Why mess with success?) Winn has been all over the place with the HJ/CC thing. His latest apperance was today on The Charlotte Observer's editorial page sort of taking issue with this article by Tonya Jameson. Maybe Winn can take some time out from all his work and join Under the Water Tower!

Sunday, April 24, 2005


Maya Packard writes:
"I visited the temporary location of Nofo several times, and liked it a lot. It is an eclectic, Paper Skyscraper-type store, with lots of different little areas: kitchen & home, bath products, gourmet foods and cookbooks, jewelry & accessories, baby & kid stuff, bedding, pet treats and accessories, etc. There was no cafe in that location, but I'm really looking forward to the opening of the new store. The manager told me that they will do "shopping parties," for which they'll keep the store open just for a group of friends or coworkers or whatever, serving wine and nibbles, and giving the whole group a discount on purchases. Eating, drinking, and shopping? Sounds good to me."

Sounds good to me too, Maya. Thanks. Paper Skyscraper is one of my all-time favorites, so I'm looking forward to Nofo At The Liz opening, all the while feeling chagrined I never stopped into the temporary spot on Hawthorne. I have no excuse.

Friday, April 22, 2005

"At the Liz"?

"NOFO at the Liz" is the name of the new restaurant -- no, deli -- no, bar -- no, gift shop -- rising next to the Visulite on Elizabeth Avenue. Charlotte magazine says it's also a "doggie deli" and is kid-friendly.

"NOFO?" "The Liz?" "Doggie deli"? What's with the name and what kind of store are you?

I'm all for serendipity, but focus won't hurt a business. Especially on a pass-through street. Just ask the dearly departed Great Stuff and Seed on 7th. Wonderful place. No focus. No walk-up business.

But hey, the NOFO people know what they're doing. They've got an online store, a Raleigh shop and a Wilmington shop.

I'll bet there's an Elizabethan out there who's visited one of the NOFO shops. Tell me about it.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Party. Meet neighbors. Party more.

Look, if it's one thing we know how to do in this neighborhood, it's party. Maybe we're not so good getting people to join the Elizabeth Community Association. So let's throw a party and change that.

All Elizabeth residents are invited to a block party on June 26th from 3 to 6 p.m. As the ECA board points out: It's the perfect time of year to come out and meet your neighbors. And party.

The Elizabeth Community Association will divide up the neighborhood and assign everyone a specific location. To party. More on that later. At the block party, a signup table will be available for anyone who would like to become a member of the Elizabeth Community Association, renew a membership or volunteer for any of the fun committees.

Bring an appetizer and your own beverage.

If you have a yard ideal for a gathering and wouldn't mind your neighbors dropping by, please call Dianna Desaulniers at 704-236-4286 or email print_itATbellsouthDOTnet.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Big fat Greek Progressive Dinner

The deadline to sign up for the annual Elizabeth Progressive Dinner is April 20. You don't want to miss this because if you do we'll talk about you during dinner and laugh.
From the official flyer: "Anyone who lives or has a business in the neighborhood is welcome. ECA membership is not required. Single folks are welcome solo, or can bring a guest (from Elizabeth or not)."

"Over 200 Elizabethans had a fantastic time last year. It’s a great way to meet neighbors, see some beautiful homes in our community, and enjoy delicious home-cooked food." To sign up, email mpackardATcarolinaDOTrrDOTcom.

Fig Tree review

The Charlotte Observer's Helen Schwab tries the Fig Tree and loves the marrow fork, among others. Check out the mini-review here.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Poetry tree

Since last July Elizabethan Kevin Keck has been posting poems on a tree in his front yard, in the shadow of The Water Tower. This is really cool. But I hate that I'm just finding out about it now -- after some 50 poems have been posted and removed. Not only that, I had to read about it in The Charlotte Observer (registration required). Hardin, Babak -- you guys live right next to this guy! When somebody does something cool like this -- you HAVE to let me know. Kudos to columnist Dannye Romine Powell for breaking the story. I'm going to have to go over there and take a picture at least.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Stealing from porches

Someone has been stealing FedEx and UPS packages off people's porches in Elizabeth. According to Brad Miller, the ECA's crime committe chairman, "The police caught him late last week (3/31 or 4/1) trying to grab a package off a porch. They predicted he'd be out of jail in a jiffy and back to his old tricks, despite his arrest." Brad recommends telling the FedEx/UPS people to leave packages out-of-sight.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Meet Eric Salley

According to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, Eric Salley likes our neighborhood almost as much as we do. Police have charged him with eight felonies, mostly breaking and entering. Officer Laura Nelson said in a recent ECA board meeting that if you see Mr. Salley in the neighborhood, call 911. That sounds extreme to me since it's a free country. But Mr. Salley has demonstrated his untrustworthiness repeatedly. Be aware.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Wouldn't YOU like to post?

Today I invited a number of Elizabeth neighbors to join this blog, which I've named "Under the Water Tower" for no good reason. You need to be a member to write posts to the blog. As a member, you can also invite others to join. It doesn't cost anything and it's easy to join. Everyone can play, from the comfort of your own home. Or Starbucks. Whatever.

I'm told the directions sends in the invitation are fairly simple to follow. But if you have problems or questions, send me a mail.

For those of you I've invited, I'm posting the approximate wording of my invitation so you won't dismiss it as normal spam. Apparently I can only invite three people at a time, so some of you may have gotten different wording. Otherwise, it should look something like this:

"This is an invitation to become a member of "Under the Water Tower," a web log dedicated to the Elizabeth neighborhood. There is no cost and no obligation. By becoming a member you can post news, thoughts, ideas -- whatever -- and share them with the rest of the neighborhood. If you don't want to join, that's fine. You can read what your neighbors are thinking at Eliza-blog. Bookmark it today!
John McBride"

Monday, March 21, 2005

Rezoning denied

Word from the Charlotte City Council meeting tonight is that council voted unanimously to deny the petition to rezone the property at Laurel and Randolph. This has been a fascinating example of how things work in our neighborhood and our city. I can't wait to see what happens next.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Progressive dinner moves

In case you haven't heard, the progressive dinner -- one of the best neighborhood events in Elizabeth -- has been moved from the fall to the spring. April 30 to be exact. According to Maya Packard, this year's dinner will have "an as-yet-unamed Greek theme." If you want to go, just email her at She's always looking for host houses too.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

The Big E

Elvis gets ready to drop the flag at the start of the 19th annual Big E 8K race on Mar. 12. Who won? Check out the results here.

The annual Easter egg hunt got under way just before 10 a.m. on Saturday morning. It didn't take long for the cleverly-hidden eggs to get snatched up.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Real estate rumors

Rumor has it that the vacant lots on East 7th Street -- the Roy White property -- are for sale. It will be interesting to see who buys the property and what they plan to do with it. Some of you will remember that the last time the Whites tried to develop the property,they were taken to court. For more on that, look here and here..

Thursday, March 03, 2005

ECA Meetings

Monthly Elizabeth Community Association meetings are held the second Tuesday of every month at the Hawthorne Recreation Center on Hawthorne Lane. The meeting time is 6:30 prompt. Everyone is welcome.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Wake-up call

Tired of that early morning wake-up call courtesy of the huge garbage trucks that slam those big metal dumpsters around like toys?

You don't have to take it. There IS a law against it. The city's noise ordinance means those big things arent's supposed to start driving you nuts until 7 a.m.

If you call the garbage company and complain, they may stop. If they don't, call the city's Noise Variance department at 336-2310. You may have to complain several times. But after the company gets one or two $300 fines, you should notice some improvement.

Two special Elizabeth neighbors.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Peter's note to Boulevard Co.


The Elizabeth Community Association (ECA) met last night and discussed The Boulevard Company's request to rezone the property at Laurel & Randolph. Of the concerns expressed, those relating to scale/density and the anticipated increase in traffic and resulting safety issues were at the heart of the sometimes 'heated' discussion. It was agreed upon that the areas of improvement to your plans given to us (dated 17 December 2004) would fall into 3 categories:1, ample vehicular access to the site, and its direct environs, so as not to unduly congest Laurel; 2, mitigate pedestrian safety along Laurel to Kenmore and at the intersections of Laurel/Randolph and Laurel/Vail; and,  3. building scale along Laurel edge to be more sympathetic to the existing scale and character of adjacent buildings.  We submit that these improvements will help balance the negative effects of your requested increase in density, and maintain the safety and great character our residents now enjoy. Placing the Elizabeth residents' safety in jeopardy will lead us to oppose the conditional rezoning. With your written agreement to these improvements the ECA will support the requested rezoning of the property.  

Please review the following requests and include on the conditional plans submitted and presented to City Council next week.

1. drive/parking entrance on Randolph road

2. fully fund left turn signals for existing turn lanes from Laurel (both directions) onto Randolph road, pending CDOT approval

3. new crosswalks (stamped, colored asphalt) at Laurel/Randolph (5 crossings) and Laurel/Vail (4 crossings) intersections

4. fully fund tightening of curb radii at north/west corner of Laurel/Vail (with approval with CDOT - should decrease speed from Laurel onto Vail

5. fully fund installation of concrete sidewalk on Laurel, from Vail to Kenmore, western side of street across from LaurelDale

6. no fewer than 1.5 parking spaces/unit

7. replace mature maple (probably lost to Randolph Road drive, pending approval of city landscape services) with 10 hardwood trees (currently $160 each, contracted with city) either on site or elsewhere in the Elizabeth community, as directed by the ECA

8. housing units on Laurel should have individual entrances off that sidewalk (facing Laurel)

9. the developer agrees not to temporarily or otherwise close any lane on Laurel during the construction of this project

Please call me if you have any questions concerning these improvements. In order to have time to submit letters to the City Council before next week we'd need to have a copy of the revised conditional plan by Thursday afternoon for ECA review. Without such written agreement we will be forced to oppose the rezoning, as it would lead to a decrease in safety and quality of life here in Elizabeth.

Peter Tart, president Elizabeth Community Association

Rezoning notice

Elizabeth residents,

There will be a presentation and open forum concerning the rezoning proposal of the parcel at Laurel and Randolph. The developer, The Boulevard Company, will present it's plans and elevations for review and comment/discussion. Please attend this important gathering on February 1st 2005 at Caldwell Memorial Church, East 5th Street (near Elizabeth Traditional School) at 6:30 pm. Help guide our community toward a better Elizabeth.

-Peter Tart
president, Elizabeth Community Association