Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Wake-up call for Elizabeth

Hope you're watching what's happening to our friends in Dilworth. They face the same pressures we do as a popular inner-city neighborhood dealing with growth. But they have a wild card we don't: Light rail. Mass transit for our corridor has been put off so far in the future it likely will never happen. Unfortunately that does not relieve us of the burden of preparing for what it might bring. Look what happened Monday.

Charlotte City Council approved a rezoning that will allow a massive project on the edge of Dilworth -- despite opposition from the Dilworth Community Development Association, despite reservations (pdf) from city planners. "The vote is a test case for the kind of development the city will allow along the rail line," the Observer reported.

Anyone who follows local politics knows developers hold tremendous sway over all our elected bodies. I'm not suggesting anything untoward. The Dilworth project will increase revenues for the city, put people to work, provide housing and likely spur further development. A few neighbors and planners can't compete against that -- even in a society where the "will of the people" is supposedly sacrosanct.

This should serve as a wake-up call for Elizabeth. How do we make sure we don't get steamrolled by the city and developers in the future? We get together now, all of us, and decide what's right for our neighborhood. Let's start with a small area plan (not that it helped Dilworth in this case) and go from there. Maybe we work with our friends in surrounding neighborhoods. Democracy it won't easy. Demoracy isn't. But if we don't start acting now, it will only get harder.

Rezoning approved

The city approved B&E Properties, LLC request for a rezoning at the corner of Hawthorne Lane and E. 5th Street Monday night. A medical office building is planned for the site.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

7th Street stats

Examine the November Elizabeth Crime stats and notice that 29 of 61 incidents -- almost half! -- occurred on East 7th Street. No surprise, I suppose, since 7th carries the highest traffic and the most people. It might be easy to dismiss the stats because of that. Maybe many or even most of the incidents happened to people who live elsewhere. We should avoid thinking like that. East 7th Street is the gateway to our Elizabeth and our entertainment center. We need to take care of it.

Captains of the block

Crime Dawg writes:
The ECA also needs block captains who live on the west side of 7th (towards Randolph). The core responsibility is to occasionally (approx. 5-6 times a year) distribute flyers to the houses in your area/block. It’s actually a lot of fun and a great way to see you neighbors on a weekend afternoon. And it only takes a little time (most routes can now be done is less than 30 minutes), especially if we have more captains to break up the routes. Remember, the more captains and the shorter the routes. Please contact Russell Crandall if you are interested in becoming an ECA block captain.  Please DO NOT contact the Crime Dawg! He’s got more than enough crime fighting on his hands.

Let's party

Yo it's time to party Elizabeth style. See you at Jane and Roxie's at 7 p.m.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Thunder Road

The Thunder Road Marathon will be run Dec. 9, and the route goes right down Hawthorne Lane. Make sure you take that into consideration when you're making your Saturday morning plans.

Game day parkers

The Crime Dawg writes:

Pigskin action will take place at Memorial this weekend. The Dawg likes ‘Pendence to keep the streak alive.

A note from our own Sgt Stahnke:

The football game between Independence and Butler High Schools has been moved to Memorial Stadium Dec. 2. This game has an 8 p.m. kickoff with gates opening at 6:30. This event comes on the heels of the “Pioneer Bowl” football game between Tuskeegee and J.C. Smith, scheduled for 2 p.m. Due to these two events and the related festivities and activities associated, the Elizabeth area should expect heavy amounts of traffic, in the late afternoon particularly. Officers will be assigned to intersections near the stadium to assist with traffic control, but there will still be delays and heavy traffic flow.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Party time

Michelle Dagenhart writes:
Tell your neighbors - THE HOLIDAY PARTY is here! The Party this year will be held on Friday, December 8 from 7:00 p.m. until 10:00 p.m. Jane and Roxie Towns have graciously agreed to host again this year in their home at 1512 East 8th Street.

The Holiday Party is for everyone who lives in Elizabeth or has a business in Elizabeth. If you are new or old to the neighborhood, single or couple, owner or renter, resident or business owner – you are welcome. Come for a few minutes or stay a while, whatever fits into your evening plans. We do recommend that you find a sitter for your children, as this is an adult event.

The ECA will provide wine, beer, beverages and a spiral ham served with rolls. No RSVP is needed. Guests are asked to bring an appetizer or dessert to share. Your dish should serve approximately 10-12 people and be served on a disposable plate or platter. If you know you will be coming late in the evening, it would be helpful if you drop your dish earlier in the day. A waiter will be at the Towns home an hour before the party to accept early dishes. Please call Michelle Dagenhart at 704-335-0280 or Maya Packard 704-334-2196 with any questions.

Jennifer the chair

One Elizabethan writing about another: The Observer's Jim Morrill's woman-in-the-news piece on Jennifer Roberts. She'll have her hands full as new chairman of the Mecklenburg County commissioners. I'm confident she's up to the task. After all, it's not the school board.

Challenge in Cherry

Interesting situation in nearby Cherry. A developer wants to tear down 63 homes and replace them with townhomes and condominiums. Residents are rightly worried that the development will lead to higher property values, which could price people out of the neighborhood. Frankly I'm surprised it took so long for developers to descend on Cherry, although they've been encroaching on it for some time now. Will be interesting to see how this shakes out.

Spreading the dough

Charlotte's best pizza restaurant, Hawthorne's New York Pizza & Bar will open a new restaurant on N.C. 51 in Mint Hill next summer. Looks like the Adams boys are continuing to do well.

Shameless promotion

Strictly speaking my sister no longer helps to inhabit our fair corner of the world. But hey -- once an Elizabethan, always an Elizabethan, right? So perhaps I can without guilt invite you to shop at the new Web site she launched for Earrings and Company. Let me know and I'll get you 25% off between now and Dec. 22.

Friday, November 17, 2006

7th Street anniversary

At this time of year it is appropriate to give thanks to the people who fought so hard for what we enjoy now. Like a three-lane 7th Street.

From a Nov. 8, 1985 Charlotte Observer story headlined Plan To Widen 7th Street Dropped:

Faced with neighborhood opposition, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Planning Commission has backed down from its recommendation to widen 7th Street through the inner-city Elizabeth neighborhood....

More than 30 neighborhood residents, including city council member Pam Patterson, crowded into the commission`s meeting room to watch the vote. Over the past few weeks, residents had lobbied against widening the street`s four lanes. They complained that a wider road would split the neighborhood and destroy its character.

Planning commissioner Joe Griffin disagreed. ``I certainly don`t want to ruin Elizabeth,`` he said. ``But this is a chance to get another artery flowing into town. I`m in favor of doing it.``

City transportation planners told the commission that 7th Street will eventually need to be widened for safety reasons. Once construction begins on Independence Boulevard, they said, more traffic is expected on the street.

But, said Planning Director Martin Cramton, ``If we begin saying capacity and safety are more important than surrounding neighborhoods, we may as well kiss inner-city neighborhoods off. We need to make a strong statement in Charlotte.``
So thanks Pam Patterson (who still lives in Elizabeth) and Martin Cramton. And a big lusty boo to Joe Griffin. And while you're digesting your turkey, don't forget that there are many more Joe Griffins out there (especially at NCDOT), and they would dearly love to widen 7th Street so folks in Union County can get home faster.

So long mass transit

Looks like Elizabeth won't have mass transit as an issue to talk about for quite awhile -- if ever. Work on the center city street car line, which would run through Elizabeth, now won't start until 2013. Seems there's some debate about what timeline was promised, but Charlotte Center City says the project will be completed in 2009 (PDF). Add in the usual delays between now and then and we're talking 2018 at the earliest before they start design work. And, as I more or less predicted, work on the Southeast Corridor now won't start until 2016 at the earliest.

They delayed for five years starting work on one of Charlotte's heaviest commuter corridors. Now they've tacked another five years of wait to it. At this rate the corridor that affects us most won't be finished in my lifetime. Heck, it may not even get started. And if you think it doesn't matter to us because we're close in and don't need mass transit, see my post about widening 7th Street.

Sex offender

From a note to the Crime Dawg:

Please make sure neighbors are aware that a recently-released criminal and sex offender moved to our neighborhood (on Weddington) about a month ago. He is described as being a black male, 6'2" at 155 pounds. He has been seen walking almost daily on Greenway Avenue. in the past two-three weeks in the daytime hours. He is bald and walks with a pronounced "strut." He has been seen wearing a black hooded sweatshirt that zips up.

Cankerworm grant

Crime Dawg writes:
The Cankerworm Initiative Neighborhood Matching Grant was awarded on November 13th to the Elizabeth Community Association. The majority of this donation will be used to purchase Tanglefoot. Band your trees [with batting and tarpaper]. We need all trees banded in Elizabeth by Thanksgiving, November 23rd. The Tanglefoot will be applied on the dates below while supplies last.

Today begins our call for community volunteers to come out and work together. We need at least one person per household to sign up. Please email the date or dates that best suit your schedule to print_it@bellsouth.net. If you are available at a different time then those shown below, please email and let me know when you can volunteer, we welcome all help. Someone will contact you with your meeting location prior to your scheduled work date.

Tanglefoot schedule:
Shift 1: November 25, 9am-1:00 pm
Shift 2: November 25, noon-4 pm
Shift 3: November 26, 9am-1:00 pm
Shift 4: November 26, noon-4 pm
Shift 5: December 2, 9am-1:00 pm
Shift 6: December 2, noon- 4 pm
Shift 7: December 3, 9am-1:00 pm
Shift 8: December 3, noon- 4 pm
Shift 9: December 9, 9 am – 1:00 pm
Shift 10: December 10 noon to 4:00 pm

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Our tower on CD cover

With a cover that looks like it would do this site proud, you gotta love "Moved To Stanleyville," a limited edition CD from Tom Constanten and Ken Foust (with help from Jamie Hoover, Jim Brock, Mark Maxen and Ted Henderson). No self-respecting Elizabethan should be without a copy of this CD.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Wall is lit

The Pumpkin Wall was lit Saturday night at about 7 p.m., with Honorary Grand Marshall Harry Taylor saying a few words. My apologies for the quality of the photo. I need to get a tripod.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Pumpkin Wall, 3rd Ed.

The wall is up on Clement in front of the Alexander House. It lacks only pumpkins (this picture is from last year's wall, one house over at the Clodfelter's). Nightly pumpkin-carving parties start Wednesday, Oct. 25, or bring your own carved masterpiece. The official Pumpkin Wall lighting will be Saturday, with Honorary Grand Marshal Harry Taylor.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Elizabeth - The Movie

If you missed the Elizabeth video that was playing at Dwellings during the Elizabeth Home Tour last wekend, check it out here. Nice work Cory!

Monday, October 16, 2006

I miss it already


Trunk or Treat

The annual Elizabeth Trunk or Treat and Pot Luck Dinner will be Tuesday, Oct. 31 in Independence Park by the Rose Garden, from 5 to 6:30 p.m. In case you missed the flyer, here's what it says: "5:00 Decorate your trunk to give out non-sweet treats to our trick or treaters and visit with our local firemen and tour their truck. 5:30 Bring a dish to share, a drink and a blanket."

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Us and Ellerbe

What does Elizabeth have in common with Wadesboro and Ellerbe? We're in the same Congressional District, the 8th. It's an interesting district, mostly rural eastern N.C. with a small hook into Mecklenburg. Hope you've been following the coverage of the 8th Congressional race in the Observer (much of it written by Elizabeth's own Jim Morrill). Incumbent Robin Hayes, a Republican, is challenged by Larry Kissell, a Democrat. There are some pretty clear differences between the candidates. I encourage you to look into them, avoid TV and radio ads at all costs and cast your vote for your favorite on election day.

Maya's kitchen

What a treat to see Maya Packard and her cool new kitchen on the front of the At Home section of the Observer this morning. Maya, one of the neighborhood's greatest assets, will -- in addition to everything else she does for Elizabeth -- be showing off her house in the Elizabeth Neighborhood Home Tour next weekend. With her husband Will, of course. Get your tickets at Royal Gardens, Compression Works or La-Tea-Da's. Maybe we can learn what a Sears kit house is.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Creating the Charlotte brand

I'm taking the high road and refusing to take cheap shots at this: "City tourism officials hope to come up with a catchy, evocative brand to attract more visitors to the region." Come up with a brand. I guess that means we don't have one. How will we know when we do?

I think by "brand" they mean something more than a slogan (my favorite: "Charlotte: A great place to live, but I wouldn't want to visit there.") Am I the only one who thinks that hiring someone from California to "design our brand" is so Charlotte? (How about: "Charlotte: Hiring Californians to brand us!") I guess the nice thing about a brand is that those of us who live here can ignore it.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

All-American look-out

I don't post everything the Crime Dawg sends because I don't want UtWT to become a crime rant. Also I couldn't keep up. Let's face it -- Crime Dawg is awesome. But one thing is creeping me out and I wanted to make sure you heard about it. Here are excerpts from some recent CD reports from our neighbors:

26-Sept-06: I wanted to let everyone know there is a really clever and cute ‘kid’ who is NOT Nearly as Harmless as you might think. He was supposedly fundraising for his baseball team and selling books for charitys. He is probably 20-25 years old, muscular, athletic build, blue green eyes….looks like the All American College boy…. goes by the name of Casey Harmon. Anyway, he may catch you doing yard work or outside with the kids…He will say his Mom is from such and such and his Dad is from another place, both places will be where you are from and your husband is from the other. It is really freaky. Early Friday evening 5:30 or so, September 23rd on Sterling Road, my husband, the kids, and I were getting ready to go to the Freedom Park Festival …..when he appeared in our front yard. And my husband, of course, totally befriended him while he played with our kids in the front yard. He had everything in common with us and his Mom supposedly lived right down the street, Don’t we know her, she walks her golden retriever everyday and she is such a great help to his fundraising. He also happened to tell us he knew our neighbor next door and was going for a ride in his Porshe later & lots of other details about our neighbor who ended up having no idea who this guy was. But we didn’t learn all this until after we had left him alone for a minute in our foyer with 2 small children while retrieving a checkbook… He had our guards that down!!! As embarrassing as this is, I want to warn everyone about him because he is nothing like he describes himself as and appears to be. It turns out he has physically assaulted a woman in Elizabeth, and threatened others in Foxcroft and other neighborhoods around here. My husband gave him a check which we have cancelled. Fortunately, the valuable lesson came cheap for us, Thank God. But please call the police if you happen to meet him.
29-Sept-06: Yes, this is the exact same guy (and exact same phony story of Casey Harmon raising money for baseball team trip, claiming to be neighbor's son) who approached me earlier in the summer and threatened me (got in my face, backed me into my front door, held fists up, etc. when I would not buy from him). I cannot believe he is back, but the writer is correct that he is very convincing, very handsome, looks like he could baby sit your kids and live in the neighborhood -- but he is DANGEROUS. The best description I can give from memory is: White male, 5'10", athletic, tan skin with dark brown short cut hair, blue-green eyes, looks to be of Italian or Mediterranean descent, was wearing a Nike athletic outfit, backwards baseball cap, peddling a scooter...
29-Sept-06: I think the same guy knocked on our door about 6 months ago. He is a good looking, early to mid 20’s white kid. He was wearing a baseball hat, tee shirt and jeans. He was going door to door on his Razor Scooter and he had a similar rap: very fast, aggressive talker, he said his mom and dad live on Kenmore, his dad is a doctor, he grew up in this neighborhood, and he was raising money so that his elite baseball team could go to a national tournament (although he did not need the money, he was doing it for the team). When I told him I was not going to give him any money, he flipped out and started yelling at me telling me that he did not want to listen to my BS excuse, etc. We ended up going at it for a bit on the front lawn (I shared with him that his sales techniques needed some fine tuning) and I’m a little bummed that I did not call the police.

From police: Our district has been receiving calls to 911 and information from residents about this salesperson, who seems to come prepared with information about residents and neighbors. We have been told that he is cocky, aggressive, and sometimes belligerent when questioned or turned away. However, I am unaware of any reported assaults involving this individual, in Elizabeth or any other area. Since, I can’t keep track of every single incident that happens in our district, I checked for reported assaults in the Elizabeth and Chantilly neighborhoods for the previous month. I found no reported assaults where this individual was the suspect. I do encourage residents to call about aggressive behavior from any salesperson, but I do not want you to be overly alarmed and fell like this subject is waiting for an opportunity to physically harm you. Please use normal recommended precautions when someone comes to your door that you do not know. Do not open the door for them. Speak to them through the door or ignore their presence until they leave. There are still some businesses who have salespeople canvassing neighborhoods, but I personally don’t recommend buying anything from someone who approaches your home unsolicited.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

SE transit corridor doomed

I wonder what people are thinking when they decide no loaf is better than half. Voting to wait five years before choosing between light rail or busway for the Southeast corridor? So much can happen in five years -- and almost none of it is good for realizing mass transit along Independence Boulevard, which last I knew was one of the more heavily traveled roads in the state. To top it off, they spent an extra $19.5 million on land they may not need. What -- they're not spending enough already?

Look, if the next corridor is managed as poorly as the south corridor has been, a third corridor might never get built. You know, fool me once. And every day nothing is done to give motorists a choice on Independence is a day the state remembers how much it wants to widen 7th Street. We do not want to fight that battle again.

After the Center City corridor, the Southeast corridor will most impact Elizabeth. Or would, if it ever gets built. I understand the yearning for light rail. It's hot; busways are not. But busways cost less, can be built quicker and promise greater ridership (pdf). Why isn't that good enough?

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

In with the new

Check out the new ECA site. It's still a work in progress (what isn't online?), but it looks awesome. Equally awesome is the latest ECA newsletter, which unfortunately is not yet posted on the site. Grab a copy and learn what happened to our Poetry Man, a little history on Lillian Arhelger and the rebirth of the Historic Elizabeth Neighborhood Foundation. Excellent job by the new editor, Nancy Albert.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Left side to curb

The other day several neighbors received $25 tickets for parking left side to curb on my block (I was not among them -- I got mine 20 years ago). I'm not trying to be belligerent, and I hate to over-simplify things. But we have a serious crime problem in our neighborhood. My car has been stolen twice in two years. My home has been burgled three times in 15 years. Drug deals go down on our streets. You've seen Crime Dawg's excellent updates. Yet we're using precious city resources to punish law-abiding citizens parking in front of their own homes? There's something wrong with this picture.

An excellent reason to attend the annual ECA dinner meeting Sept. 26 at St. John's Baptist Church. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police will be there and perhaps this subject will come up. Politicians and other government officials and ECA board members will be there also, telling us what's going on and listening to our comments and questions. This is town hall-style democracy at work, every bit as American as election day. Come get involved.

The ECA provides beverages and a main course. The rest of us bring a covered dish or, really, whatever you want to share foodwise. It's always a good feed. See you there, from 6:30 to 8 p.m.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Crime at Cooking

Regular readers of UtWT know that I've taken a pair of cooking classes at Cooking Uptown and I love that store, even if I don't get into it as often as I would like. So it pains me to report there's been another break-in. Here's owner Karen Cooley's report via Crime Dawg:

Cooking Uptown was broken into at 5:40AM today. Looked exactly like the break-in that occurred on 12/21/05, except the perpetrators went straight back to a locked office and apparently kicked in the door. They knew where they were going and must have cased the store in advance, as they knew what they were looking for.

There have been a couple of people in that I suspect were up to no good in the past week. A white female about 5'4" with what may have been a blonde wig, a little overweight and otherwise non descript and an older white male around 5'8" with light brown receding hair and carrying a black or dark colored backpack, he is known to hang out next door at Hawthorne's to drink.

The crime investigator did try to get some fingerprints, but the perpetrators seem to be wearing gloves. The thieves got away with cash.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

International House

Hope you got to see The Observer's piece on the International House the other day. I'd list the International House as one of our neighborhood's most under-appreciated assets. I should know because I've been under-appreciating it for some time now. Maybe I'll finally get over there to practice my Spanish on Spanish night -- if they still have it.

Homes tour

The Elizabeth Homes Tour 2006 will be Oct. 14-15. Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 on the day of the tour. Tickets will go on sale two weeks before the tour at the Charlotte Council of Gardens, 1820 E. 7th St. It's too late for me to mention the homes tour committee was looking for volunteers. But if you're interested in helping out, give Terry Lett a call at 704-377-0052. You can be early for next year.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Nursing home update

The Observer reports that federal officials now say Elizabeth Place nursing home is "in substantial compliance." This after the Hawthorne Lane home was found to have 44 deficiencies between September 2005 and May 2006, the "most citations against any N.C. nursing home in that period," The Observer reported. Makes you wonder what's going on. As one expert noted: "You don't come that close to closure and things get better overnight."

Elizabeth Court

Another condominum project for our neighborhood, on Weddington near where 7th becomes Monroe Road.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Dishes covered

We like to party in Elizabeth, but this is business: The annual ECA Covered Dish Dinner and Meeting. The ECA provides drinks and a main course. The rest of us bring a covered dish of some sort. Then we listen as neighborhood leaders, politicians, police and others tell us what's going on. It's a perfect time to learn about our neighborhood and ask questions. Last year I learned about the drug dealing going on on our street. You don't know what you might miss. It's Sept. 26 from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Broach Hall in St. John's Baptist Church on Hawthorne Lane.


Know who this dog belongs to? Let someone know.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Critter conundrums

Two animals have been found. Know who lost them?

The dog showed up at a home in Plaza-Midwood several days ago with no ID of any kind. Call 704-408-7896 or at 704-408-8190 if you recognize this pooch.

The cat was found under a car in the Mercy Hospital parking lot on Vail Avenue. A veterinarian said the cat is spayed, declawed in front and is about 10-years-old. Know where it lives? Email Ken.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Senator from Clement

Our own state Sen. Dan Clodfelter will talk to the Mecklenburg County Democratic Women tomorrow at the Independence Branch library at 7 p.m. Wonder if they'll talk about Jim Black. If anybody attends, I'd love to hear a report.

Elizabeth Place

If even half of the 44 deficiencies cited against it are upheld on appeal, it's still a sad situation at Elizabeth Place on Hawthorne Lane. More deficiencies than any other nursing home in the state! So bad even the federal government can't stand it. Right here in our own neighborhood. Is this a neighborhood issue?

Party time -- again

You probably already know about the Big Block Party and ECA membership drive this Sunday, Aug. 13. A cool way to meet neighbors, enjoy a cold drink and eat some good food. But the map is the important part. It tells you were to go, so to speak. Hope to see you there.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Can't be fun

When you see Jenna MacFarlane, be kind. She's been dealing with the city on water drainage issues.

40 for board

An unbelievable 40 people want to fill the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board seat being vacated by Kit Cramer. At least one of them is an Elizabethan. Julian Wright and his family live on Greenway. Wright ran for the District 4 seat in 2001, losing to incumbent Louise Woods.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Learning experience

Dilworth's Latta Pavilion aparently has been a learning experience for Grubb Properties. Good. I hope they don't repeat their mistakes at 1523 Elizabeth Avenue. I never felt comfortable visiting Latta -- narrow sidewalks smack up against speeding traffic on three sides. It's too big for the site, and it's hard to manuever around it. On Elizabeth, the building next to Carpe Diem has been set back a tad. I hope they continue that. Also, Elizabeth Avenue is two lanes, althought Hawthorne is four. I think this is going to be a good project.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Make a note of it

One of the ways we were able to bust the guy who broke into our house recently is that I had a list of serial numbers on some of the things he stole. If you haven't made such a list yet, you ought to. I was reminded of this by the latest crime tip from Sgt. Rich Stahnke of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department:
Thefts of the popular Apple iPod are common (CMPD has recorded 100 such thefts between 12/9/2005 and 6/26/2006). Common among the CMPD reports is the lack of iPod serial numbers, indicating that most of the victims do not know their iPod’s serial number. There are several resources available to assist in obtaining that information, including the original iPod packaging and, perhaps the purchase receipt. Another way to determine the iPod serial number is to access the iTunes (version 6 or later) program on the computer they download music from. The serial number of the last iPod connected to the computer will be displayed.

Find your iPod serial number.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Wildcat Highway

Being new to Elizabeth, I am constantly discovering things during my daily walks through this quirky neighborhood. One thing that has piqued my curiosity is the bronze plaque on the stairway going down into Independence Park (corner of 7th and Hawthorne.)

It reads:
Wildcat Highway
Erected in loving memory
of those who served in the World War.
War Mothers of North Carolina.

Does anyone know any more about this, how it is related to the park? I am assuming it refers to the first World War. Was there a Wildcat Highway? I have done some resarch and have trurned up nothing.


Friday, July 14, 2006

Block party

If it's one thing we know how to do in Elizabeth, it's party. So be there Aug. 13 for the 2nd Annual ECA Multi-Location Block Party Membership Drive. (We might have to work on the name.) If you want to help or want to share your yard for this event, call Dianna Desaulniers at 704-236-4286.

Traffic testimonials

Now's the time to air your traffic gripes. The ECA wants to hear what you have to say. There'll be a neighborhood meeting Aug. 20 at 4 p.m. at Russell and Britta Crandall's house, 2338 Greenway Ave. If you've lived in Elizabeth longer than six months you probably have a traffic horror story to share. Come on by.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Streetcar meeting

From the CATS folks: "The Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) will hold a public meeting to discuss updated information on the streetcar project. Project information on the capital costs, environmental effects, and the top two sites for the maintenance facility will be shared with the public for feedback. Boards will be present displaying renderings of the proposed maintenance facility sites." If you hope to have an affect on the future of the streetcar system -- which will become a part of our neighborhood -- now is the time.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Hi there,
I am new to the community and new to this blog, having moved here from Connecticut six months ago. My husband John and I live in one of the Elizabeth Village flats, you may have seen us at an ECA monthly meeting, at the progressive dinner or just out walking. In Connecticut I worked for Wesleyan University, was a freelance documentary photographer and photo editor for the Hog River Journal, a quarterly magazine that explored the state's culture and history.

I have so far very much enjoyed being in Charlotte, but am looking for ways to connect with people and learn more about the community. So when Peter Tart talked with me about coordinating the newsletter I pretty much jumped at the chance. It is clear though, that as a newcomer to the community, I am going to need a good bit of help. What do people think should be included in the next (fall) newsletter? Is anybody interested in writing a piece? Do you have photos you'd like to share? Do you like the publication as it, are there changes you would like to see? Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks. Nancy Albert

Tree 1, Car 0

So then we came home from the fireworks and the power was out. Could have been worse -- it could have been my car under that fallen tree on Clement, not poor Gary Jackson's. Jackson said he was upstairs with his young boys when the tree fell. He thought the noise was just part of the boom boom show. Until the lights went out. Unbelievably power was restored early this morning, and the tree was completely gone by 6:30 p.m.

Great show

Maybe they had problems downtown, but from where I watched the fireworks last night -- in the Armory parking lot on Armory Drive -- everyone was peaceful and well-behaved. I can't imagine how people downtown, or at Dilworth Grill -- or even in Memorial Stadium -- could see all the fireworks. Many of the visuals didn't get far off the ground. And they never turned off the lights in Memorial, so folks there would have been looking up into them. But, as I say, from where I sat it was a great show.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Dr. Mento

As promised, here's video of Hardin proving there is almost nothing he won't try when it comes to Diet Coke and Mentos.

Patriots on parade

Quite a turnout at the annual Elizabeth Fourth of July Parade today. The walk around the block was fun and featured a few more cars but fewer motorcycles this year. The real action came afterward, of course, in Hardin's backyard. That's Marley and Hardin (above) reading from the Declaration of Independence. There were other readings and of course songs. Not to mention hot dogs and lemonade and cookies and chips. I've got a video of what's sure to be a new July 4 tradition, Diet Coke and Mentos. I hope to post it somewhere soon.

Clearly the biggest hit was Lahleh Emadi, dressed as Paula Revere - complete with bell to warn against approaching British soldiers. She won the prize for best costume.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Better than fireworks

Another cool yearly Elizabeth event: The July Fourth parade (that's my daughter Anne before last year's parade above). Starts down by Hardin's house (doesn't everything?), and goes four blocks down Clement, 8th, Lamar and Bay. Afterward we read from the Declaration of Independence and sing patriotic songs and eat hot dogs. It's done for no other reason than we like living here and being part of this great country. Bring a dish and join us. Parade starts at 10:30 or thereabouts. Wear your best patriotic outfit. Who knows -- you could win a prize.

Neighborhood explosives

They'll be firing off the explosives in our neighborhood tomorrow. CPCC will be your fireworks host, but the question is: Where is the best spot to watch? Memorial Stadium with 11,000 others? One of the parking decks uptown? How about the Hawthorne bridge? Presbyterian Hospital parking deck? The Lamar dead-end? Let me know where you watched and how it rated so we'll all know for next year.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Non-compliant sex offenders

That's William Anthony Swinton on the left and Roderick Dale Freeman on the right, a pair of local sex offenders who are "non-compliant" according to the Mecklenburg County Sheriff. My understanding is that means the cops don't know where these guys are -- and they're supposed to. Swinton's last known address was 2512 McClintock Rd., Apt 2. Freeman's was 229 N. Torrence St. These are just two of at least 22 convicted sex offenders in Mecklenburg County and hundreds more across the Carolinas, exposing gaps in the states' sex-offender registry laws, according to the Observer.

Again with the ha-ha

Who doesn't need a good laugh these days? The Yoga Center on 8th Street is trying again to hold a free Laughter Yoga class. I think the last one got rained out, so they're moving it inside at the center on Sunday, June 25 from 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. The class will be facilitated by Phyllis Rollins, Charlotte’s only Laughter Yoga leader. From the press release: "Laughter Yoga is supported by powerful tools derived from the Western psycho analytical methods as well as Eastern spiritual laws. It will help you to stay in high spirits when life throws up challenges. It will enhance your ability to laugh and smile when dealing with negative emotions, situations and negative or difficult people."

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Pearl of Elizabeth

Hope you got to see the article about Penny Craver that ran in the Observer recently. Craver, co-owner of Dish in Plaza-Midwood and former owner of Tremont Music Hall in Dilworth, is the force behind the Pearl restaurant, where Ethan's used to be. I've yet to eat at Pearl, but I love Dish. Anyone have an opinion on Pearl?

Friday, May 19, 2006

2500 block of 7th

Anonymous reports:

I'm following up on the question about what's going on on the 2500 block of 7th street where it's been bulldozed.

For whatever reason, even though there's a "financed by Wachovia" sign in the middle of the land, most of the people I've called have tried to say as little as possible. I was told the "official release" will be in a couple of months. I called around and was able to get this info:

-The plans are for 45 townhomes
-3 stories
-They will be 1700 to 1800 sq/ft
-The avg townhome will have 3 bedrooms and if I understood correctly, 3.5 baths.
-They will have a 1.5 car garage
-The pre-construction prices will be "in the low 2's". I asked what they meant and was told "215-220".
-They are being built by gateway homes

There are several condemed and nearly condemed properties on that block and right next to the soon-to-be-built townhomes, but the demolition for this project is complete. I was told they woul "probably look similar to the homes ate www.PrestonTownHomes.com", although they don't know if they'll be brick or not.

one more thing: completion of the project will be 14 months from now.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Conformity on Seventh

The secret is out. Plans are underway to develop the Roy White property on Seventh. Monte Ritchey may have been playing coy with the Business Journal, but he made a presentation to the ECA meeting Tuesday night. Let's hope he can do something good for the neighborhood with that property and end the long-running saga.

Relive the PD

Download the Progressive Dinner recipes here. Enjoy.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Progressively fuller

At our Progressive Dinner house on Greenway, hosts Beth and Scott Haenni went beyond the call by also preparing warm goat cheese salsa and fresh guacamole. (That's Scott in the back in black t-shirt; Beth at far left, also in black.) So I ate some. It was really good. Just before that, at the appetizers house, I nibbled on various things while never straying far from the two frozen margarita machines. So when it came time to actually eat dinner, I was already fat. That I did not join the clean plate club was no reflection on the meal. Maya and company, you did a great job choosing the menu -- again. Afterward, the desert house on Bay Street made up for the dearth of sweets last year with an overload this year. All in all, an excellent Progressive Dinner -- again. If you didn't make it -- and we know who you are 9th Street -- rest assured we talked about you.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Seis de Mayo

When you attend the Progressive Dinner Saturday night, I encourage you to eat too much, drink too much and misbehave. I don't want to be the only one. One warning, like last year, I'll have my camera. If you act up, I'll snap your picture. If you've never been to the Elizabeth PD, you ought to go. It's one of the best things our neighborhood does. Maya says she has space for five more people if you forgot to sign up. And the correct starting time is 6:30 p.m., even if you see a flyer that says 6.

Whole year wait

Bummer. Looks like Whole Foods won't open on Elizabeth Avenue until 2008, not next year as originally planned. I'm looking forward to the gluten-free bakery.

Ha ha this-a way

I'm not sure what this laughter yoga thing is all about. All I know is Charlotte's only laughter instructor, Phyllis Rollins, is holding a free laughter yoga class Sunday at 1:30 p.m. at upper Independence Park, by the rose garden. I'm giggling just thinking about it.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Bulls eye

I'm not a huge Target shopper. But when I heard they were building one on the site of the old Charlottetown Cinemas I thought, "Sure would be nice to have a movie theater there." And then I thought, "But a Target and Home Depot won't be bad" -- especially since we're supposed to get up to eight screens at the Elizabeth Avenue redevelopment project. I resent the heck out of having to drive out to the suburbs for shopping and entertainment. I'm glad our fair city is getting the density needed to bring these businesses back into town.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Table turnover

So long Ethan's. So long Schlotzsky's. Seems like we hardly knew you. Hello Pearl of Elizabeth and the Corner Place. We are to expect American cuisine with an emphasis on fresh seafood at Pearl of Elizabeth. I'm not sure what to expect from the Corner Place, but it's open, so stop in. Apparently the Pearl is open too, as they get ready for a grand opening on May 5.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Help wanted

The Elizabeth Community Association needs a secretary. The pay is lousy and the hours are bad. But you get to hang out with some really cool people who care deeply about their favorite neighborhood.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Reading benches

As promised, here's some pictures from the new reading garden at Independence Park. I still can't get over how the benches are not bolted down. How long until they walk away? Wouldn't it be nice if they stayed there forever, unmolested and useful? Also, did you see the beautiful mallard who has been swimming in Lake Arheleger?

Sex offender update

That's Kevin Clark Shikany on the left and Charles Edward Hinton on the right, a pair of sex offenders who live in our area. Shikany lives at 2029 E. 7th Street and Hinton at 1023 Central Ave. You can search for known sex offenders within a mile of your home here.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Independence improvement

If you haven't seen the amazing improvements to Independence park near 7th and Hawthorne, you need to go take a look. New shrubs, trees, flowers, benches, mulch -- it doesn't look like the old Indy. It's called a Reading Garden, sponsored by Troy-Bilt, and it's supposed to be an "oasis of calm and beauty, where people can sit back with a good book and take in the outdoors." Charlotte was one of nine cities to get a Reading Garden. I've got to get a picture soon. I'm afraid it won't last. The benches look especially susceptible. Wouldn't it be nice if we could all keep an eye on the Reading Garden and make it last?

Signs could be better

Get in your car, and proceed toward Commonwealth Avenue from The Plaza. Turn right at the stop sign, toward Pecan. A few yards after you do you’ll see a speed limit sign: 30 mph. Now between The Plaza and Pecan on Commonwealth is about one-tenth of a mile. You certainly can reach 30 mph on that stretch, but why would you?
Now turn left from Commonwealth onto Pecan, toward our fair neighborhood. You’ll go almost three-tenths of a mile before you see the first speed limit sign: 25 mph sign.
I am glad Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police are targeting speeders on this street. People drive way too fast on Pecan -- you know who you are. But I do think another sign is in order for the people coming off Commonwealth who might think the speed limit is 30, as it is on Commonwealth, or 35, which I believe is the city-wide speed limit (unless otherwise posted). I assume police aren’t stopping folks doing 30 mph. I assume they have enough business nabbing the leadfoots. But the proper speed limits here could be better displayed.
And no, I haven't been stopped.

Map of the future

Don't you just love these stylized mass transit maps? As if the Government Center, CPCC, Pecan Avenue and Briar Creek were on a straight line. I guess since they don't know exactly where things are going on the Silver Line everything is just an approximation anyway. If you've been down South Boulevard lately, you've seen the reality of the Blue Line construction. We're next.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Common sense for master keys

This question was in the latest Elizabeth Crime Notification email (the work of Brad Miller). It was asked by an Elizabethan at a recent ECA board meeting:

I heard there is a master key available on the Internet for The Club. Is this true?
Officer Laura Nelson (the Elizabeth community police liaison): I have spoken with several officers in the district about a master key for The Club. We all agreed that if it’s possible to purchase a master key for a car, it’s probably possible to buy a master key for The Club.

Ok, it makes no sense to buy The Club if there is a readily-available master key that makes it useless. But how many of the clowns stealing cars are smart enough to get the key -- let alone use it? The jerks stealing our cars aren't shopping for master keys on the Internet. They're helping themselves to the low-hanging fruit we're leaving for them. If they want to get around The Club, they'll cut the steering wheel and remove it that way. The Club won't stop the serious thief. But if two cars are otherwise similar and one has The Club and the other doesn't -- which car gets taken?

Friday, March 24, 2006

According to Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police there were 52 crime calls in Elizabeth in February. Exactly half, 26, involved automobiles:

Larceny from auto 10
Hit and run 7
Auto theft 5
Vandalism-vehicle 4

Last Wednesday night there were four reports of someone rummaging through cars on Laurel, Greenway, Fifth and Clement streets. At least three of those incidents apparently happened to unlocked cars.

Help the tour

The neighborhood's largest fundraiser is still the Homes Tour. Show off your home or volunteer to help make the 2006 tour as good or better than last year's. Email Terry Lett, Elizabeth Homes Tour coordinator, if you'd like to help.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Hunt eggs, parade hats

The ECA Mad Hatter Easter Egg Hunt will be Saturday, April 8 at 10:30 a.m. at upper Independence Park between the gazebos. Wear your most outrageous hat for the mad hat parade. Just remember there'll be people there with cameras. And if any of them send me a picture I'll post it right here so everyone can have a good laugh. In fact, I think I'll go and take my camera. So wear a funny hat and smile. See you at the petting zoo.  

Junior National Young Leaders Conference

Does anyone know anything about the Junior National Young Leaders Conference? By that I mean, does anyone know a kid who went? Looking for recommendations.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Big E road race

The 20th annual Big E road race and neighborhood celebration is Saturday, March 25 at 8 a.m. There'll be activities for kids after the 8K race and the 3K health walk/run. It was a bunch of fun last year, and the money goes toward planting trees in Elizabeth. If you have questions about the tree plan for our neighborhood, this is your chance to get some answeers.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Get on board


Three years from now you'll jump on a trolley in Elizabeth and ride downtown to the Blumenthal for a show. As you're tooling past CPCC, you may wish you'd had an opportunity to shape the streetcar route. You do. Attend the meeting Thursday and learn all about the proposed Center City Streetcar. On our side of downtown, the trolle will run up Elizabeth Avenue and down Hawthorne to Central. At least that's the plan now. It's in the Elizabeth's best interest to attend.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Have a tent?

Not just any tent. The Elizabeth Road Race (PDF) folks are looking to borrow three or four tents "10 by 10 size in the pop-up or sun shade style" for the race March 25 from 8 to noon. They can pick up the tents the Wednesday or Thursday before and return them the Tuesday after. If you can help call Rachel Eldridge, 704-258-6033.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Ads for trees

Careful Under the Water Tower readers will notice two new additions to your Elizabeth neighborhood blog: Ads by Google at the top and an ad placed by Altmedia101.com in the sidebar. Looking to supplement my income? Not really. If I get any money for these ads -- and I haven't yet -- I will give it directly to the Elizabeth Tree Plan (I wish I had something to link to for the tree plan. The best I can do is direct you to the ECA site, but there's not much there on it. If anybody has information to share on the tree plan for newcomers, let me know.) I doubt UtWT will generate enough traffic to hit the big time or even the tiny time, but if we get one tree out of the deal it will be worth it. You can help, of course. Maybe if we talk about local restaurants like Ethan's or Carpe Diem Google will place ads for places like AOL City Guide or Hello Metro. Or maybe if you click on the links the ads provide we'll earn a penny to put toward a sapling. Or maybe not. We'll have to learn how it works. One note: I have no control over the ads. I don't endorse them nor does the ECA. If you see an offensive ad, let me know.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Gone, soon forgotten

I'm not a fan of tearing down all the old buildings, even if it is what we do in Charlotte. But this building at the corner of Hawthorne and Fifth has always been an eyesore. I remember taking pregnancy classes with my wife in that building in 1994. The rooms were always either too cold or too hot. The elevators were slow and creaky. There was a total lack of charm throughout. I know it's not nice to speak ill of the dead. But this one probably shouldn't have lived as long as it did. Will its replacement last?

Monday, January 30, 2006

Big E for big tree

Help save our trees and get a little exercise at the same time. Proceeds from the 20th annual Big E Elizabeth Road Race on March 25 will go toward helping our leafy friends. Register now. After the race, hang out at Independence Park and learn more about our trees and eat food and play games. Register now and save: $20 if registered by March 17; $25 if registered between March 17 and 24 and $30 on race day.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Best movies of 2005

I've bumped into enough Elizabethans at Visart Video to know we're all looking for a good movie. But we don't want to work too hard at keeping up with all the releases. With that in mind, here's a list of the best movies of 2005, compiled from an assortment of professional film critic's Top 10 lists. Each of these movies made at least one film critic's Top 10 list for 2005. Does that mean they're good? How should I know? I've never even heard of half of them. Check 'em out at your own risk.

40 Shades Of Blue
A History Of Violence
An Unfinished Life
Batman Begins
Born Into Brothels.
Brokeback Mountain
Broken Flowers
Cache (Hidden)
Cinderella Man
Darwin’s Nightmare
Enron: The Smartest Guys In The Room
Funny Ha Ha
George A. Romero’s Land Of The Dead
Good Morning Night
Good Night And Good Luck
Grizzly Man
Gunner Palace
Hotel Rwanda
House Of Flying Daggers.
Howl’s Moving Castle
Hustle & Flow
In Her Shoes
In The Realms Of The Unreal
King Kong
Kings And Queen
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
Look At Me
Mad Hot Ballroom
March Of The Penguins
Match Point
Me And You And Everyone We Know
My Summer Of Love
Mysterious Skin
No Direction Home: Bob Dylan
Nobody Knows
Off The Map
Police Beat
Pride & Prejudice
Red Eye
Shake Hands With The Devil
Sin City
Star Wars: Episode Three – Revenge Of The Sith
Tell Them Who You Are
The 40-Year-Old Virgin
The Aristocrats
The Beat That My Heart Skipped
The Best Of Youth
The Constant Gardener
The Devil’s Rejects
The Great Raid
The Holy Girl
The Intruder
The Sea Inside
The Squid And The Whale
The Sun
The Talent Given Us
The Three Burials Of Melquiades Estrada
The World.
Three Times
Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride
Tony Takitani
Tropical Malady
Waiting For The Clouds
Walk The Line
Wallace & Gromit: The Curse Of The Were-Rabbit
Wedding Crashers
Who’s Camus Anyway?
Wild Parrots Of Telegraph Hill

Monday, January 02, 2006

Registered sex offender

jerrybrentporter2Jerry Brent Porter (left) was convicted Dec. 5, 2005 of taking indecint liberties with a child, and as such registered as a sex offender on Dec. 15, 2005. He lives at 1805 E. 8th St. Porter was sentenced to 16-20 months in jail and 36 months of probation. He is listed as 6-1, 175 pounds with black hair and hazel eyes. He has at least eight tatoos, including one of Mikey Mouse on his left arm, according to the Mecklenburg County Sheriff's Office. He was born May 27, 1969. The crime was reported May 19, 2004, and involved a 15-year-old girl.

Porter is no stranger to the police. He was arrested Aug. 27, 2003 and charged with possession of cocaine. At the time of that arrest, he looked like this: Porter 2003 By the way, the address he gave for the 2003 arrest was also 1805 E. 8th St.