Safety

Development to reshape Cramerton

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The new development called Villages at South Fork  along with any earlier plan simply called Lakewood Village will bring 1,409 “upscale” housing units to the Town of Cramerton along with a combined 170,000 square feet of commercial space over the next 5 to 7 years.

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Of course, this development impacts the whole area, and most importantly the school system and roads.

Hold on for this ride.

Gaston: No ICE detention facility

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No Doubt!

Both the papers are now reporting that a 1,500 bed federal detention center most likely will not be built in Gaston County.

We kinda wonder why our county officials had to travel to Washington “for discussions” about this project? Wouldn’t have been a bit cheaper for Sue Myrick and former Mecklenburg Sheriff, Jim Pendergraff to have visited Gaston?

 The Gazette, ever hopeful for downtown revitalization, expressed an interest for an “ala carte” project that would be less expensive.

Seems to us that the project tab of $150 million fits into “Big Plan” Palenick’s vision for Gaston — right along with the laundry list of a “conference center/hotel”, restaurants, a hidden homeless shelter, and an $18 million baseball field.

This is leaving us wondering what sort of earmarks that Ms. Myrick is planning to dangle for us as her re-election campaign gears up. Our schools who qualify for Title I funding are shrinking even when the number of poor students grows. The estimated $1.6 Billion (yes, billion) “Garden Parkway” is still an apple of David Hoyle’s eye, but without federal funding and passage of a Toll Authority from the state, that will be out of his lifetime. Maybe he and Ms. Myrick could talk – surely there is still a bit of money at the bottom of the pork barrel for good ‘ol Gaston.

   

What Makes a Great City?

 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.


Belmont PD: Purse snatchers targeting senior citizens

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Another spillover effect of having more traffic for economic development? The Walmart Effect hits the Reid neighborhood. Lincoln Street connects back to Wilkinson down by the Auto Zone near Pack Brothers. It is an easy cut-through road.

We hope that the people of our community neighborhoods can feel safe – certainly makes a case for more police wouldn’t you think?

Belmont becomes Berkeley

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Belmont Middle School students, evoking memories of a past era of protests by young people, held their own rally at Stowe Park on January 15. A peaceful protest rally seeking to be heard in the town-wide discussion of behavior in the park and downtown area.

Spurred on by a growing animosity between hundreds of adolescents in the downtown area immediately after school and downtown merchants, Belmont police addressed all the parents via a letter.

The word got out that the city wanted the park emptied of young teens and that the kids were ‘banned from the park”.

As the BannerNews reported, albeit delayed by its posting on this site, the students were not “banned”, but were definitely given the message to “go elsewhere”.

Parks and Recreation opinion — set up surveillance systems to track troublemakers — not a good option.

Downtown Merchants opinion — get them out, or get them supervised — not particularly good, but better.

Belmont Police — we need more officers, we need more money — SOP response, also not productive.

Gaston County Schools’ — once the students leave our campus, they are no longer our responsibility — oooh-kaay, how productive is that?  

The kids took matters into their own hands, and, voila’, a meeting occurs on January 16.

Way to go Teens! 

We still stand by our original opinion, that all the groups need to dialogue/plan better afterschool options so that “bad apples” don’t spoil the adolescent need to “hang out” in public areas — and feel safe while growing up.

It does require the entire community to monitor. It does require individual families with children in this age group and school group to have open communication and supervision of the kids. It does require cooperation.  

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Belmont Police try to rid Stowe Park of children

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Just wrote an inflammatory headline to see if ya’ll were paying attention.

But, there is an issue brewing with the popularity of the downtown area with young and old alike.

Stowe Park has long been a gathering place for students from the junior high/now, middle school, immediately after school each day from about 3:05 to almost 6:00 PM.

After the Central Avenue bridge was renovated in 1992-1993, the Belmont Public Library saw a huge increase in the after school “attendance”. The library created a policy for behavior and time limits for this new attendance pattern.

Successive Belmont Middle School principals have had varying levels of success with afterschool clubs and activities, all pretty much completing by 4:00 PM each day.

With the opening of the Belmont General Store and Caravan Coffee Shop, students began flocking to these venues as well as the library and park area.

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Parents began “allowing” the children to go to these places afterschool. Many of the children getting “freedom” after years of afterschool child-care type programs aged them out of their licensing focus. Parents saw this freedom as also freedom from the financial burden of child-care.

So, the community must now bear the added cost of more police officers patrolling downtown Belmont and Stowe Park. As Chief James claimed in a letter to Middle School families, patrolling the park is taking away an officer from [more important] other duties during their shifts.

Caravan Coffee and the Belmont General Store, for all the goodwill that is done by these businesses, have had to call in the police to deal with the behavior of more than just a few kids at times.

The opening of the pavilion at the top of the hill in Stowe Park has contributed to a growing crowd of kids, particularly on nice days.

So, what can be done? The BannerNews did an article about the issue in last Thursday’s paper:

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We are suggesting that the school take a more proactive approach toward afterschool “latchkey” children. “Latchkey” is a terminolgy for children who carry their housekey to let themselves in at home while the parents or guardians are away. It was also used by some political elements to stigmatize children of families who have both parents in the away-from-home workforce.

Community groups such as the the YMCA, Boys and Girls Clubs, and others have offered programs for years, specifically designed and geared to the ‘tweens and early adolescents of a community. Many times these programs meet until 5:30 or 6, but not every day. The school itself offers many clubs that meet from 3:15 to 4:00 PM, only closing down when the teacher-advisors vacate the buildings around 4’ish. Team sports generally take place from 3:15 to 5:00 PM and when games are held, large student crowds are present.

Grants are available to offer teachers incentives to stay longer to develop interesting programs and activities.

We agree, this is a particularly difficult age of student to engage. Chief James singles out the skateboarders for example, as a negative impact.

The negativeness of skateboarding and inline skating (called “boarding, or “skaters” respectively) is because the community doesn’t generally take kindly to young (mostly) boys who like individual challenges as opposed to the traditional ‘team sports” approach of engagement.

Girls like to gather in small groups to socialize, and where would that be? Close to where boys hang out – be it on the ball field or in a park area.

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The Belmont Parks and Recreation director’s comments about setting up surveillance cameras in all the parks is short-sighted and not going to accomplish a P & R goal of engagement. It will just send the students “somewhere else”.

One of the Belmont P& R department’s long term goals was to develop and operate a skate park. Now that the bond referendum has passed, it is time to move this project forward rapidly. Of course, if the placement of such a park is farther away from the prospective user group — middle school aged children– the less impactful it will be in the long run. We have long recommended that the lower (unused) tennis courts at Davis Park be the site.

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(Davis Park photo)

It is time for the elements to match up and get a comprehensive series of goals and action steps into place. We suggest that the four main groups — the school, downtown merchants, parks and recreation, and students (along with their parents) — develop this plan. It would be wise to include the police department after there is consensus on the “self-policing” process before the law enforcement brings its heavy hand to bear on the result.  

  

June Vandalism Rampage Nets Sentence for Two

The two young men who were arrested for vandalizing 76 cars and homes last summer, were sentenced on Friday.

Christopher Allen Bostwick, 19, of Belmont and Timothy Michael Pressley, 18, of Cramerton were sentenced to 200 hours of community service and required to pay restitution of $12,000.

Jail time was avoided by both men, many of the homeowners and/or insurance companies wanted to be reimbursed for the damages. The reasoning was that if the men were jailed, they would not be able to pay back the damages.

The judge threatened both offenders that if they were caught in as much as a moving violation, they would be sent to jail.

Guess that wraps up the justice in their destructive silliness…

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