We thought you all might like to look through this check list. While we have a lot of things to work on , we all agree that YES, Belmont is very good already, and is “becoming” a great city.
This a reprinted article from Project for Public Spaces (PPS):
Is Your City a Great City?
Take a look around your town with this checklist, to see how it measures up.
By Ethan Kent and Kathy Madden
In Great Cities…
Community goals are a top priority in city planning
· Citizens regularly participate in making their public spaces better and local leaders and planning professionals routinely seek the wisdom and practical experience of community residents.
· Residents feel they have responsibility and a sense of ownership for their public spaces.
· Neighborhoods are respected, fostered and have unique identities. There is a sense of “pride of place.”
· Public spaces are planned and managed in a way that highlights and strengthens the culture of a particular community.
The emphasis is on pedestrians, not cars
· Pedestrians and bicyclists are more numerous than vehicles (on at least some streets).
· Streets function as “places” and have numerous attractive destinations along them.
· Transit options are available to get to places where people want to go and are used by all kinds of people.
· Parking does not occupy most of the public space; free parking is difficult to find.
· There is a walkable commercial center convenient to every neighborhood that provides everyday needs and services (grocery store, pharmacy, library, medical services, coffee shop etc.)
New development projects enhance existing communities
· New developments, both public and private, are designed to include mixed uses and to be easily reached without using a private vehicle.
· Developments are human scale and connect with places to cut through rather than mega scale, internalized and islands unto themselves.
· There is a mix of new housing types and layouts that allows and encourages people to grow old there.
Public spaces are accessible and well-used
· There are public places within both neighborhoods and downtowns where people can gather informally and regularly.
· Parks feature attractions for people of different ages and are used at different times of day; they are more than simply recreation facilities.
· The waterfront allows people to actually reach the ocean, lake or river.
· Amenities (benches, transit waiting areas, etc) are comfortable, conveniently located and designed to support the intended use.
· Negative uses or users do not dominate the public spaces.
· Both children and seniors can easily and safely walk to where they want to go (e.g. children can walk to school, seniors can walk to movies, grocery stores).
Civic institutions are catalysts for public life.
· Schools are centrally located to support other neighborhood activity.
· The library is a multi-purpose and popular place where people go for many different types of activities. · Civic institutions (museums, community centers, hospitals, government buildings, etc.) have resources and activities that appeal to people of all ages and all cultures in the community.
Local economic development is encouraged
· There are many locally owned businesses-markets, mom-and-pop stores, street vendors, and larger independent stores; these local businesses are encouraged by the city; people know their retailers by name.
· The mix of locally owned businesses is such that at least some of them are “third places” -places where people can just spend time.
· Local businesses work with schools to provide internships or part time jobs.
Public spaces are managed, programmed and continually improved.
· The public realm is managed to maximize community interaction and to facilitate public outcomes.
· Spaces are managed to provide opportunities for generations to mix.
It’s ok to be optimistic — keep spinning away. We are all for user fees, parking at a distance lot helps the Gaston Healthcare Commission and contributes to a healthier community.
Maybe the rate is too low?
The Belmont Chamber and Belmont Abbey College are hosting a program on the 1,100-acre Montcross development project on Dec. 13.
(Montcross Development – Wilkinson Boulevard Side)
The program, which includes networking and refreshments, is from 5:30 until 7:30 p.m. on the Belmont Abbey campus.
Project designer Bill Monroe, president of Charlotte-based WGM Designs, Inc, will speak about the project and answer questions. Networking will start at 5:30 p.m. in the Haid Ballroom with the Montcross presentation starting at 6:30 p.m. in the adjoining Haid Theatre.
Montcross is a commercial and residential project stretching along Interstate 85 from the Catawba River to the South Fork. The plan touches four towns: Belmont, Mount Holly, Cramerton and McAdenville.
A Wal-Mart Supercenter opened on the property last year. Opening in December are Lowes Home Improvements, BB&T and Hampton Inn.
As more property is developed over the next 20 to 30 years, it is estimated that 10,000 people may be employed in the project, which has been called the next Ballantyne.
Montcross is a partnership involving land owned by the Southern Benedictine Society of North Carolina (founders of Belmont Abbey College), Pharr Yarns, Parkdale Mills and R.L. Stowe Mills.
There is no charge for the program, but registration is requested by email to email@example.com or by calling 704-825-5307.
Let’s see, at every property revaluation, let’s lower the tax rate by 3 or 4 cents, and tap into the reserve funds to balance the county budget.
Then, we can justify fee-for-service where only those who use the service have to pay the fee.
It is simple, democratic, and fair for all who would be using the service, right?
Well in this case the newly instituted parking fees for “close in” parking near the courthouse in Gastonia have a few detractors who don’t like the idea of walking or being inconvenienced by a few extra feet.
In the case of attorneys who frequent the courthouse, we are sure that they have already figured a way to incorporate their “inconvenience” into their fee structures. So, who really loses and who really wins in this instance?
Did the county consider the parking “spread” in their plans when the new courthouse was built? They considered future use of the courthouse — by building an additional floor for future use. But where to put all the cars that people drive to get to the shiny edifice? Well, let’s plan for a parking deck — and figure out how to pay for it sometime later.
As our attention turns from municipal elections to county-related issues this might be one question to ask candidates and incumbents for any office. As with all OPM (other people’s money) questions, what are your plans to manage future costs and maintenance?
We feel that the $80-100,000 per year fee generation is a bit overly optimistic on county staffers budget estimates, and who is to say that this particular designation for offsets will hold past any election rhetoric?
As for us poor people who occasionally need to go to the court house, the one-block walk or the cross-over from the Main Avenue free parking side of town is not that big of a deal, even for the in-and-out errands.