Wednesday, October 28, 2009

More Elizabeth pumpkin wall images

This post is because one can never have enough pumpkin pictures in one's life.

The images are from the official lighting ceremony of the Elizabeth neighborhood's pumpkin wall at 525 Clement Ave.

More Charlotte Halloween details and activities.

Note: These photos are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works license. Details. I'd appreciate being contacted before any reuse.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Elizabeth's pumpkin wall lighting is Wednesday

The traditional pumpkin wall lighting ceremony in Charlotte’s Elizabeth neighborhood is this Wednesday, and it appears at this point that weather will cooperate.
The wall is at 525 Clement Ave.
The photo here shows how the wall was shaping up as of Saturday, Oct. 24, this year. And see more historical pictures from earlier years at the wall.
Other nearby Halloween festivities: Elizabeth’s Trunk or Treat and potluck dinner at Upper Independence Park on Oct. 31, near the rose garden near 1900 Park Drive, just off Seventh Street. The event focuses on NON-sweet treats and decorated trunks.
In Plaza Midwood, the Van Landingham Estate at 2010 The Plaza is hosting its first ever Haunted Estate Party, with spooky music, dancing, candy, cookies and punch, and heavier foods for sale, including a cash bar for the grownups.
Then, of course, the trick-or-treat action moves to the neighborhoods. Check out Tommy Tomlinson’s recent column about what Halloween feels like in Plaza Midwood, a traditional hot spot.
Remember safety tips.
And don’t forget to brush your teeth.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Setting free the trees in Merry Oaks

About 10 neighbors plus three workers with the Mecklenburg County Parks and Recreation Department showed up with loppers, clippers, gloves and rain jackets in the rain Saturday at the Briar Creek Greenway to liberate some trees from invasive vines.

Invasive plants were strangling some valuable trees of various ages and species at the Briar Creek Greenway between Arnold Drive and Masonic Drive. The Park and Recreation workers provided some tools and information about which trees were most worth saving, and they dove into thick woods to rescue some of the most valuable trees near a wetland area.

Volunteers chose specific trees or clusters to liberate. The trees were identified earlier, photographed by freelance photographer Nancy Pierce and shared with the neighborhood with a flyer about the project.

Entrance to the greenway from the Merry Oaks neighborhood is near 1950 Arnold Drive.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Pumpkin wall rises soon in the Elizabeth neighborhood

It’s Pumpkin Wall time.
Scaffolding for the the traditional Elizabeth pumpkin wall is up on Clement Avenue in the Elizabeth neighborhood.
Nightly pumpkin carving starts Friday, Oct. 23. Neighbors are also invited to carve their own pumpkin at home and bring it to the wall.
The wall lighting ceremony will be at dusk on Wednesday, Oct. 28.

The wall has been a tradition sinced 2004 and has often included a political message. The scaffolding and wiring are key to the success of the project, brought to the neighborhood and the city by The Woodpeckers, a neighborhood group.
Photos here are from 2006 through 2008. The messages capture a glimpse of historic concerns over time: the “Pray for Rain” pumpkin came after a drought year, and the date on the wall in 2007 refers to Inauguration Day in 2009, at a time when the next president remained unclear.
What will the wall say this year?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Charlotte candidates' forum for Eastside

A candidates' forum for mayor and city council candidates is tonight, Oct. 13, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Amity Presbyterian Church, 2831 N. Sharon Amity Rd.

An informal meet-and-greet begins at 6 p.m.

Both Anthony Foxx and John Lassiter, mayor candidates, will be at the forum, as well as the eight candidates for at large seats on city council. (On your ballot, you get to vote for four.)

In the first half of the program, at-large candidates will each respond to the same questions; in the second half, mayoral candidates will each be asked identical questions. Most questions were written by an ad hoc group of neighborhood leaders to reflect the concerns of East Charlotte neighborhoods.

Moderator Mary Newsom, award-winning land-use columnist for the The Charlotte Observer, will also have time to add her own questions.

Co-sponsor neighborhoods and organizations include the neighborhood associations of Coventry Woods, Winterfield, Windsor Park, Country Club Heights, Merry Oaks, Birnam Woods, Easthaven, Idlewild Farms, Marlwood Acres, Plaza Eastway Partners, and Vernedale Farms; the condo associations of The Oaks, Coventry Woods, Rosecroft and Candlewood; plus Charlotte East Community Partners and East Charlotte Political Action

For background on the candidates, one good source of information is CharMeckVotes.

Early voting begins Thursday at the Hal Marshall Annex, 618 North College St., in downtown Charlotte. For details, visit the Mecklenburg Board of Elections.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Plaza Midwood Chantilly Chili Cookoff on Saturday

Late notice, but at least it's notice:
The sixth annual Plaza Midwood Chantilly Chili Cookoff is from noon to 10 p.m. Saturday, with hot food and hot sounds from a variety of bands. Location is 1318-D Central Avenue, otherwise known as MMR Racing (Goose's Shop), at the historic buildings in the back of the Family Dollar lot.
Host is Chris "Goose" Mcelhattan.
The event is a fundraiser for Hospice and Palliative Care in Charlotte.
The list of bands:

  • Loose Lugnuts
  • Belmont Playboys
  • Time
  • Aqualads
  • Johnson Boys
  • Nita Belk and The Swingin' Soiree

From the event's official website:
"The Plaza Midwood Chantilly Chili Cookoff started in 2003 by Chris “Goose” McElhattan to benefit Hospice Palliative of Charlotte Region.
As a long-time resident and business owner of the Plaza Midwood-Chantilly area, he frequented many of the area restaurants, where he met Clarissa Vaughan. They met and became fast friends when she worked at The Bayou Kitchen. As with many people in the PMC area you don’t just make friends — you make family.

In the spring of 2003, Clarissa got the news that no one wants to hear - breast cancer. And being such great friends, Goose decided he wanted to do something to give back — not only for those dealing with breast cancer, but all types of cancer. Thus the PMC Chili Cookoff was born in October of 2003.

... Goose and his crew have now raised over $50,000 for Hospice."

More details: Plaza Midwood-Chantilly cookoff.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Charlotte rental property rules move forward

The Community Safety Committee of the Charlotte City Council unanimously agreed Monday to move a revised rental ordinance aimed at reducing crime to the full council on Oct. 12.

Committee members hope to give the full council time to consider the plan and vote on it Nov. 9 instead of passing the issue to a newly elected council in December.

The plan focuses on registration and fees for owners whose properties fall into the worst 4 percent in terms of “disorderly activity,” which does not include domestic violence or complaints about trash.

“The only people who pay are those who hit or exceed the threshold,” said Ken Miller, deputy chief for the administrative services group of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department.

The owner of a single-family rental property could face a registration fee of $335 and a meeting with police if just one violent crime occurred on the property, Miller said. But, he said, “We expect we would lose a number of those during the review process.”

An owner of one of the largest class of rental properties, with 300 or more rental units, could face a registration fee of $1,300 and a meeting with police if the property fell into the worst 4 percent of properties.

Property owners would be notified of any need to register by certified mail to the name and address listed with the Mecklenburg County’s Office of the Tax Assessor. The plan includes penalties for not responding to the notice.

Appeals would be possible to a citizens’ rental review board.

Officials are continuing to make tinkers to the draft proposal before the Oct. 12 meeting.

Safety committee members are Chair Warren Turner, Vice Chair Patsy Kinsey, Andy Dulin and Edwin Peacock.

Background on the proposed rental ordinance.

Save the trees, and then feast with Merry Oaks

Merry Oaks celebrates fall with a vine-fighting, tree-saving project, followed by a potluck and general meeting on Saturday, Oct. 24.

Invasive plants are strangling some valuable trees of various ages and species at the Briar Creek Greenway between Arnold Drive and Masonic Drive. Workers from the Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation department will work with neighbors and volunteers to liberate the trees and save the tree canopy for the future.
Time is from 9 a.m. to noon (or 1 p.m., it's kind of loose.)

Biking friends and Plaza Midwood neighbors: You're specifically invited. This greenway and the bridge over Briar Creek benefit Plaza Midwood as well as Merry Oaks, providing a safe, green haven for bicyclists and pedestrians. We're glad to be connected with nearby neighborhoods after years of working for the bridge and greenway. We can help keep connectivity strong and beautiful by working to save the tree canopy.

The event is the same day as the Plaza Midwood Fall Crawl, a day full of tree banding, music, costumes and beer. But the battle against the canker worms has shown that we're all reliant on each other when it comes to protecting our green tree canopy. So if you're particularly energetic, you can make a full day out of saving trees and hanging out with neighbors.

Later the same day, the annual fall potluck begins at 6 p.m. at Cate Martin's home, with a brief general meeting at 7:15 p.m. Community police representatives and possibly some local candidates will likely be there. Here are details.
Freelance photographer and neighbor Nancy Pierce has documented specific trees to save, and you can pick a specific tree or cluster of trees by checking the event's flyer.

Charlotte rental property rules update

The Community Safety Committee of the Charlotte City Council plans a special meeting at 4:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 5, in Room 280 of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Government Center to discuss a revised plan for a rental ordinance aimed at reducing crime.

The plan requires statistical analysis in order to aim only at those properties that are giving police and nearby residents headaches. It also estimates enough revenue from fees on those properties to pay for two civilian staffers at the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department to administer the program.

And the plan calls for the use of existing property tax records to notify and find property owners.

It also establishes a rental property review board, with seven members, "representative of the residential rental, tenant and homeowner community."

A few quick numbers from the plan:
$143,434.83: Salary plus benefits for the two employees. That includes $5,721.95 for N.C. state retirement and $3,576.22 in 401K contributions.
$37,000.00: The cost of two Chevy Malibus
$4,000.00: The cost of two laptops and licenses (I wonder if this estimate is too low; make sure the employees access to expensive Lexis/Nexis subscriptions, and perhaps their ability to find the property owners behind corporations holding some of these properties could improve).
$229,180.00: Total estimated fees from the program, affecting 587 properties.

Ideas after a letter about the ordinance from the Eastside Political Action Committee
Holding property owners accountable