Sunday, September 30, 2007

Will we get sprayed?

Charlotte city arborist Don McSween will ask the City Council tomorrow for $2.8 million to spray parts of the city -- including Elizabeth -- to control cankerworms, the Observer reports. We should know by Oct. 8 if he gets the dough. No matter what happens, you still have to band your trees. As Dana Inge writes:

Every fall our mature tree canopy is threatened by the cankerworm bug. This year, the ECA will be selling the necessary tree banding supplies for $1.00 a foot to combat the cankerworm. The cost covers batting material, roofing paper, tanglefoot, gloves, plastic spreaders and staples and/or plastic wrap. Neighbors are strongly encouraged to order enough supplies to account for banding not only their own trees, but any trees whose canopies touch the trees on their property. Residents can then pick up their supplies on October 27th in Independence Park, from 8:00AM-4:00PM near the rose garden. Additionally block captains will serve as more local points of contacts for their respective zones throughout Elizabeth. To order supplies, email and indicate:
• Your name
• Address
• Phone number
• The number of feet of supplies that you require.
(Please note the ECA is not profiting in any way from the sale of these materials. The ECA tree banding materials are being sold at or below cost to Elizabeth residents in an effort to encourage participation.)

Good start at Crisp

After a long wait, Crisp is finally open in the old Corner Deli spot at the corner of 7th and Pecan. Jerry, the owner, said they opened Wednesday, and at least for a short time will be serving only lunch stuff, the sandwiches and salads on the menu boards -- even if they're open during dinner time. Folks who work there say they're pleased with business so far, and expect more when they get a beer and wine license and add some dinner items, like pastas and pizzas. ETA on the beer/wince license wasn't certain, but could be next week. Table service is coming too.

The decor and ambiance of the place is a huge improvement over at least the last two occupants of that site. It has a trim, urban feel. Sandwiches come on fresh-baked bread and my salad came with fresh-baked breadsticks. I had the steak salad (can't remember the name now), a marinated hunk of tri-tip steak cooked to order and placed on top of a bed of greens. It was great. My family had sandwiches. With chips and drinks the bill came to $40, which isn't bad for four people. We'll be going back.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Vote for overcrowding

I went to the Eastover/Cotswold school boundary meeting Monday night at Eastover. A few hundred people crowded into the auditorium to listen to CMS talk about the two proposals. I have two observations.

First, I thought CMS did a terrible job presenting the proposals, explaining why it had come to this and what brought us here. They never stated why this particular area was chosen over others, although if you look at the map it's pretty obvious. The data they provided was difficult to interpret and incomplete at best. The moderator frequently failed to answer plainly stated questions. I am a huge supporter of CMS. But this meeting was a good example of why they have an image problem.

Second, it seemed to me the vast majority of people there were taking a strong stand in favor of overcrowding. No, of course they didn't put it that way. But when all the emotion and rhetoric is removed, their basic plan was to do nothing. Many said they wanted to let the situation "auto-correct." While that would certainly minimize the pain of the people living in the affected area, it does nothing to minimize the pain of the people who believe the situation now is intolerable and bound to get worse. I wish I believed the situation would auto-correct itself.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Peachy market

Possibly the best peach I've had this summer was bought at the Charlotte Tailgate Farmer's Market on Commonwealth. Large and juicy, it peeled easily and tasted of sweetness and sunshine. I may head over there on Tuesday to see if they have any more left.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Did you hear it?

Did you hear the big boom this afternoon? I didn't. In a link that's sure to be gone in a day or so, the Observer reports: "Workers trying to excavate 8,000-gallon underground tanks from beneath an abandoned gas station inadvertently sparked a flash fire this afternoon that shut down an intersection and alarmed residents but seriously hurt no one. It happened at about 3:30 p.m. at Hawthorne and Elizabeth lanes in the Elizabeth neighborhood, just across the street from the main entrance to Presbyterian Hospital." I think we were very lucky no one was hurt.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Numbers at Eastover

Those of you who noticed the figures in the Observer's story on attendance changes at CMS and my recent post may be wondering what's up with the numbers. The Observer says Eastover "has nearly 450 kids in a school built for 410." I say 541 kids in a school built for 430. Who's right?

Numbers are funny things. They can change. They can be interpreted. How many kids can a school hold? That depends. I used a number that Eastover Principal Vanessa Ashford and CMS Area Superintendent Joel Ritchie seem to agree on, 430. But I've got no real argument with the Observer's number.

I do take issue with the 450 number. Ashford says as of today there are 533 kids enrolled, down from the 541 two weeks ago.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Strike up the banding

Cooler weather means time to band your trees to stop the spread of that hateful cankerworm. I can hear you now: Do I have to? The answer is yes. And the Elizabeth Community Association is making it easy for you, selling everything you need for $1 a foot. Email with your name, address, phone number and the number of feet of banding stuff you need. (Measure the circumference of the trees at about chest-height.)
And tree banding experts will be on hand at the annual ECA dinner on Sept. 25.

Elizabeth community annual dinner

Don't forget the annual Elizabeth community dinner Sept. 25th from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Always a great time to meet neighbors and politicians and get an accounting of what's going on -- and ask questions from the movers and shakers. The ECA provides a main course and drinks. You provide a covered dish. We eat, we talk, we learn. What could be better?

He's everywhere

Suddenly Elizabeth celebrity chef David Pasternack is everywhere. Hear him on NPR. See him in the Observer. Read his book. And you can eat his food at Customshop, where he is consulting chef.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

School boundary hearing

CMS will hold two meetings to discuss the redrawing of attendance lines for Eastover and Cotswold elementary schools. The first will be Sept. 24 at Eastover, the second Oct. 1 at Cotswold. My understanding is about 40 kids would be moved (PDF) from Eastover to Cotswold, a small start but nowhere near a solution to the overcrowding at Eastover.

So let me see if I get this right: We won't solve the problem, but at least we'll make some people mad. It will be interesting to see how all this plays out right before the bond vote. The big problem appears to be that all the elementary schools in the zone except Eastover and Cotswold are magnets. Is this really a good idea?

No matter where one stands on the overcrowding issue -- and it's not just Eastover -- it's clear the bonds need to be passed. Voting against the bonds will only guarantee that we have more problems like this. Unfortunately, passing the bonds in no way guarantees we won't have these problems.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Conformity on Commonwealth

Now is your chance to speak your mind on what should happen to the vacant lot at the corner of Pecan and Commonwealth. Elizabeth's Conformity Corp., headed by resident Monte Ritchey, owns the property. Ritchey told the Observer he plans to do some market research to find out what residents and business owners want to see there. There was a push recently to turn the lot into a park, but I'm not sure what happened to that effort. While a park would be nice, it seems unlikely at this point. What's the best use for that land? Let Conformity know: 704-334-5516.

Desegregation at Central

There was no spitting or taunting on the first day of the 1957 school year at Elizabeth's Central High School as its first black student walked to class. The principal made sure of it. You can learn more about the student and the principal and the role a neighborhood high school played in desegregating Charlotte's public schools in the Observer's story.

Save Volare?

Egads. Volare owner chef-owner Fabio Salazar says his business is down since he moved to Elizabeth from Myers Park. "I don't have much time to hang out over here," Salazar told the Observer, adding that he could call it quits in Elizabeth by the end of the year. Do we want to lose such a great restaurant? I wouldn't think so. I'm embarrassed to admit I haven't eaten at Volare since the move, so I can't say if they've lost a step. But I can say they were great on Providence.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Latest restaurant rumor

The latest rumor is that the planned Mexican restaurant in the old Arrow cleaner's spot between Roy White Flowers and Sub Station is dead. Instead it will be a beer, burgers and billiards concept. A thought from an anonymous observer: Don't we have enough beer and burger spots nearby? I might have to agree with that. But let's see how it turns out.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Your big chance

Maya Packard needs help. One of the homes in the Home Tour has dropped out. Don't you want to help? Maya writes:

I have just heard from our Homes Tour coordinator that one of our houses has just dropped out, only five weeks before the tour. I know that it is a lot to ask, but we really need to have that slot filled in order to have the tour this year! This event raises about $7,000 for our neighborhood every year, which we really need to do all the things we do. We NEED the Homes Tour! You may not think your home is tour-worthy, but you might be surprised. Some people go on the tour to see lovely decor, some go to see a new addition or remodel, some go because they are just curious to see how other people live, or what is behind those walls they walk by day after day. Having had my house on the tour last year myself, I will admit that it is not easy to prepare for it, but it isn't as bad as you might think, and it is excellent motivation to give (or hire someone to give) your house that deep cleaning you keep meaning to get around to, and to finish up those little projects that have been hanging over your head. If there is any way you would consider opening your home on the weekend of Oct 13 & 14, or even if you just want to know what is involved, please, please email or call me at 704-334-2196.

I hope you'll consider helping.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Goodbye Independence

I've been meaning to mention how Independence Boulevard is slowly retreating from our daily lives in Elizabeth. (Would that it never entered!) Back in 1946 the city decided to cleave some decent neighborhoods with the abomination that would become Independence Boulevard. Many years later the ungainly behemoth was turned into a limited access freeway, more useful for Union County residents than those who live and suffer next to it. We were left with a relatively useless section of divided highway between 7th Street and downtown, kind of an impotent reminder of poor decisions of the past. But no more. In June, our slice of Independence history was quietly renamed Charlottetowne Avenue. I say good riddance.