Stowe Park

8 candidates seek 3 open Belmont seats (Updated)

That’s It ? , that’s all the Observer could write?            vote.jpg 

They are not “open”, they are contested.

Is this all that we are going to get from the City Council candidates this year?

You have to buy a copy of the Thursday (10/18)Observer to get more information. To be fair, there is a bit more information from the generic questionaire that was sent to all the candidates.

becky-burch.jpg Becky Burch: “…she would encourage the development of one shuttered textile mill to be converted into a nursing home…”  and this helps the tax rate how?

“Burch said council members have the authority to ask developers to leave room for these areas, she said. They haven’t made that request yet though, she said.”  WHY haven’t the council members made those requests – YET ?

We are not making this up – these are quotes from the Charlotte Observer.

irl-dixon.jpg  Irl Dixon: “While some candidates say they are concerned about high property taxes, Dixon said the tax rate dropped last year and he expects it to do the same in the future because of the development of high-end, waterfront homes”.

Does this give credence to the term “economic-genocide” that East-enders and South Point residents are concerned about? Push out the existing homes to build McMansions along the lake, reducing visibility and accessibility. This is a concern here in this community.

charlie-flowers.jpg  Charlie Flowers:  “If re-elected, Flowers said he will push for businesses to fill the now empty textile mills”.

Too Late Charlie !  Most of the mills have been torn down or are in the planning stages to be torn down. We cite the examples of the Belmont Hosiery plant – now, called Belmont Reserve. We cite the Imperial Mill – now vacant, and its mill village called Hawthorne. We cite the Acme – now the space for development. This site even had a viable park area that the city acutally refused to use (Woodlawn) in the late 1990’s. How about what once was the Belmont Dyers, now torn down with development plans for high-end housing. Even the cotton warehouse that Stowe Mills used over on Eagle Road (a perfectly good pre-cast concrete structure) was torn down to make way for the clear-cutting that is now known as Eagle Village. Not even going to discuss in any detail the tearing down of the Eagle Mill for $500,000 unsold homes across from Belmont Central.

rfoulk.jpg  Ron Foulk: “…61-year-old political newcomer said council members have budget responsibility…”.

He’s not a newcomer — he has run for City council in at least 2 other elections. He also opposed the Amity Acres annexation into the city in the 1990’s. How can you trust someone who will be opposed to future annexations.

curtis-gaston.jpg  Curtis Gaston: “He would favor a building moratorium, especially on large subdivisions.”

Once again, the Pittenger/Duke(Crescent) property is already under design – that’s over 1,000 acres of voluntarily annexed land. The city has had jurisdictional control for over ten years on this property and until it was sold to State Senator Pittenger, nothing was done to guide its development direction.  Young Mr. Gaston needs to be more involved. He has promise but will he be committed in the long run?

stowemanorlogo.gif Martha Stowe: “…It [the land use plan] doesn’t prohibit developers, it just makes sure you’re working in tandem with developers,” she said. “As much development as we’re seeing in Belmont we’re going to have to do something other than what we have done…”

So, what are your plans and ideas?

Richard Turner:  “…The recent land-use plan lacks teeth, Turner said, and developers have been able to build as they wanted using conditional zoning. He said the city needs a public facilities ordinance that wouldn’t allow growth beyond the city’s ability to service it…”

Dennis Boyce: “Did not respond”

We hope the BannerNews and the Gazette will expand these questions.

We find it amazing that wherever you see a Burch sign in a yard, there is a Flowers sign right next to it. If it looks like a ticket (signs), sounds like a ticket (identical votes on all issues before council), it’s probably a ticket. Vote for one, get 2.  And we thought that the politics in Belmont was “non-partisan”.

Police see rash of car break-ins: 17 in Mount Holly, nine in Belmont

The Wal-Mart effect: Build it, and THEY will come !

smiley.jpg

Several years ago the political lines in the Belmont area were pretty well divided over growth issues. Type of Growth, Rate of Growth, Vision of Community, Sense of Belonging, and the kicker — Property Rights.

The mill community mentality, taken from the farms and hills of the early twentieth century learned young’uns the value of owning property if you “cud git ahold a sum”. Gaston County divided itself along the lines of the “Haves”, and the “Have Nots”.

The funny thing during the debate process (some called it “steamrolling”) was that nobody discussed the attendant collateral damage of big box development.

The collateral damage is the “flow-through” of increased traffic that these types of development brings to an area. Increased malicious mischief, vandalism, theft, and larceny are the damages.

carbreakins-bpd-photo-at-hawthorne.jpg

(Belmont Police photo published in Gazette)

This series is not just “kids with nothing to do”. It is not necessarily gang-related either.

Belmont Police Chief David James, always on the lookout for more money to increase the size of his force, commented on the potential of these issues in the original series of debates. Of course, his eye was on the development of his department — remember we built that grand new police department building on Chronicle Street with an eye on the future – (re: bigger than needed) 

The article in the Gazette about the recent rash of auto break-ins, noted the neighborhoods where these occurred. “Build It, and They will come !” Works for both good and bad.

What can the community do? Well, besides call the police?

Be vigilant in your travels through town. Not paranoid, just observant.

With a lot of new people in the area, new homes, bigger dogs (which always seem to come with the type of folk who want to make some kind of “statement”), fancy-schmanzy cars, we need to try to reach out and make a community that is larger than the great walls that have been erected around several of the subdivisions.

community-watch-logo.jpg

Community Watch efforts are always good. The Neighborhood Preservation portion of the new Land Use Plan, can and should encourage these community efforts. Maybe Chief James would seek out funding opportunities to support Community Watch and Community Policing efforts.  Another idea is to encourage police officers to live in the community. Many of our recent police recruits don’t live here, why should they care what they see as they are driving out of town at the end of their shift?

What efforts are being made to encourage/require public safety personnel to be active members of the community? Granted, there are a few who do live here, but as the force grows, what is being done?

The big deal a few years ago was to allow officers to drive their vehicle home — helps as a deterrent to crime. Problem is, We have never seen those cars in our various neighborhoods, unless there is a called-in issue.  

Presence, vigilance, and connectivity help keep communities safe for everyone. Maybe the police department can use some of their funding from us to do more along those lines rather than buying more stuff…

All Aboard! Stowe Park committee hopes to get train back on track

 

(Gazette Photo- courtesy of Belmont Historical Society)

Anybody who grew up in Belmont has a favorite memory of Stowe Park. Who can’t remember riding the Ferris wheel and being stopped at the very top? Or the big colored lights that hung over the walkways from Main Street down into the park? Watching movies at the amphitheater or dancing on the dance floor? Or being so small and looking up at the big sliding board?

But perhaps your most vivid recollection is the train that circled the upper part of the park and went through the tunnel.

The Belmont historical Society has recently been given the train and has formed a Stowe Park Train restoration committee. The members of the committee plan to paint the train its original colors and store it at its home on Catawba Street. Plans also include restoring one of the passenger cars.

The storage building is on the back of the property of the Cultural and Heritage Learning Center. Citizens are asked to bring any old pictures of Stowe Park to the center to have copies made. The train was recently on exhibit at the Summer Fest at Stowe Park.

Donations are being accepted for the restoration and are tax deductible. For more information, call (704) 825-4848.

Source Article

Take part in community cleanups Oct. 6

Volunteers needed to pick up litter around town, along waterways

Two local environmental organizations will participate in massive community cleanups Oct. 6, and it’s not too late to get involved.

Keep Belmont Beautiful expects approximately 100 volunteers to pick up litter around town in its Big Sweep/Litter Sweep.

Up to 300 folks around Lake Wylie will pick up trash and debris along the banks of the lake in the Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation’s River Sweep. Two of the six River Sweep meeting points are in Belmont — at Harbortowne Marina and the Seven Oaks Bridge on South New Hope Road.

“We need all the volunteers we can get,” says CD Collins, the Gaston County Regional Cove Keeper who lives on Catawba Cove on Lake Wylie. “You can never have too many people to help.”

Both Big Sweep/Litter Sweep and River Sweep started six years ago and are part of a statewide grass-roots campaign focused on community cleanups.

On Lake Wylie, volunteers will meet at six points around the lake to register and pick up gloves and trash bags. Ferried to cleanup sites by pontoon boat, volunteers will move to different areas of the lake throughout the morning. Volunteers who meet at Harbortowne and Seven Oaks will work along the South Fork River, Catawba Creek and along the main channel’s shoreline.

Trash will be unloaded onto a lake barge from noon to 1 p.m. Then volunteers can enjoy a party at T-Bones on the Lake at the Buster Boyd Bridge. The celebration includes free food and drinks and a raffle with prizes donated by local businesses and communities.

This summer’s drought and extremely low lake levels will help the cleanup effort, says Collins.

“We’re counting on the ability to get ashore and to pick up more trash,” he says. “We never like to see the water down, but it will assist us in getting more debris picked up.”

In Belmont, volunteers will meet at 8:30 a.m. in Stowe Park to enjoy hot chocolate, coffee and doughnuts. Cleanup efforts will begin at 9 a.m. and last up to 90 minutes.

(Fountain at Stowe Park)

“For a small town, we’re excited to have about 100 volunteers,” says Keep Belmont Beautiful Director Judy Closson. “We’re expecting Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops, the Beta Club from Belmont Middle School, the Belmont Woman’s Club, volunteers from Keep Belmont Beautiful, firefighters, the police academy and many other people in the community to help.”

Big Sweep/Litter Sweep will focus on Belmont’s worst trash areas first, then branch out to areas less plagued with debris.

Some volunteers also will work at the Gaston County Recycling Center off South New Hope Road in Belmont by handing out free tarps and educational brochures to owners of pickup trucks.

“We’re trying to get the word out that they’re supposed to have their load covered, even if it’s just a small load,” says Closson. “That’s where a lot of our trash on the roadways comes from, from things blowing out of the back of trucks.”

Many Keep Belmont Beautiful volunteers have helped out for several years running, but with all the people moving to town, Closson sees new faces every fall.

“People take pride in Belmont,” she says. “They don’t want to see litter laying around and they’re willing to get out and do something about it.”

Clean Sweeps

• Keep Belmont Beautiful will sponsor Big Sweep/Litter Sweep beginning at 8:30 a.m. Oct. 6. Volunteers can enjoy refreshments before cleaning up litter around Belmont for an hour and a half. For details, call Keep Belmont Beautiful director Judy Closson at 704-825-8587.

• The Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation will sponsor River Sweep on Oct. 6. Volunteers will meet at six areas around Lake Wylie, including Harbortowne Marina and the Seven Oaks Bridge in Belmont, to clean up banks. Hours are 9 a.m.-noon. A free party at T-Bones on the Lake will follow at 1 p.m. For details on how to volunteer or to donate a raffle prize, call Gaston County Regional Cove Keeper CD Collins at 704-825-3588.

Source Article by Leigh Pressley of the Charlotte Observer