Need to escape the ‘noise’? Try these 4 refuges in University City

Need to escape the ‘noise’? Try these 4 refuges in University City

The holidays can get so hectic, you just wish you could escape for an hour or two. That escape is close by in University City. Here are four of our favorite places. All are free and open from dawn to dusk!   UNC Charlotte Botanical Gardens Ten acres of beautiful year-round flora await you at the UNC Charlotte Botanical Gardens. Stroll the Asian Garden, Winter Garden, Water Garden and a native woodland garden daily from dawn to dusk. Or visit the McMillan Greenhouse, offering tropical plants, orchids, desert plants and carnivorous plants. The outdoor gardens will be open throughout the holidays. The Greenhouse will be open 9 am-4 pm Mondays-Saturdays and 1-4 pm Sundays through Dec. 21, and closed Dec. 22-Jan. 1 for the winter break.  704-687-0721  Website UNC Charlotte campus This 1,000-acre center of higher education is also a beautiful place to explore, especially in late December. The official winter break is Dec. 22-Jan. 1, but most students will be heading home this week. Some buildings such as the Pop Martin Student Union will be open through Dec. 21. The campus is pedestrian and bike friendly. Toby Creek Greenway runs through the heart of the campus. Several streets have bike lanes, and you can ride bikes on any campus sidewalk (but watch out for stairs!). You may be able to rent a Gotcha Bike from several outdoor racks around campus. Click on the link for details and rack locations. Get a printable campus map   Toby Creek, Mallard Creek and Clark’s Creek greenways You can hike or bike for hours on these three connected greenways that stretch for about 13...
Help plan key Cross Charlotte Trail segment Sept. 19-21

Help plan key Cross Charlotte Trail segment Sept. 19-21

The public can take part in a planning event Sept. 19-21 for the Hidden Valley segment of the 30-mile Cross Charlotte Trail. Visitors can drop in throughout the three days or take part in the full daily sessions as the project team drafts a preliminary plan for the future bike-pedestrian path between Wellington Street (just east of Sugar Creek Road) and North Tryon Street at Orr Road. Three-day schedule The planning charlotte and public meetings will take place at Sugaw Creek Presbyterian Church, 101 W. Sugar Creek Road at North Tryon Street. Each day’s activities are designed to let visitors drop in, learn and participate. Here is the schedule: Sept. 19 – 5:30-7:30 p.m. Public kickoff meeting (drop-in) Sept. 20 – 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Design studio session #1 (drop-in) Sept. 20 – 4-5 p.m. View a pin-up of the work in progress. Sept. 21 – 9 am-noon. Finish creating preliminary draft plan (drop-in) Sept. 21 5:30-7:30 p.m. Draft design presentation – The project team and citizens who took part in design studio will present their draft plan. About the Cross Charlotte Trail T​he City of Charlotte is partnering with Mecklenburg County to create a 30+-mile trail and greenway facility that will stretch from the City of Pineville​ through Center City and on to the UNC Charlotte campus and Cabarrus County line. Voters have approved $30 million in capital-improvement bonds for the project, with another $5 million in transportation bonds being proposed for 2018. Once completed, the Cross Charlotte Trail will allow residents to travel seamlessly from one end of Charlotte to the other. Approximately 140,000 residents and 130,000 jobs will...
Green light for our parks and greenways! Thanks, everyone!

Green light for our parks and greenways! Thanks, everyone!

A note of thanks from Darlene Heater, Executive Director, University City Partners You’ve probably heard the great news about our park and greenway funding, but in case you have not, our County Board voted on Wednesday night to reverse a previous funding plan and instead fully fund 13 park and greenway projects still unbuilt from the 2008 park bonds – including three projects in or close to University City. Thanks to everyone who called, emailed and spoke with county commissioners over the past two months about our county’s urgent need for more parks and greenways. Thanks to our county board for spending so much time hearing our community’s concerns and responding. Thanks to Commissioner Jim Puckett for proposing the plan that commissioners approved last night, and thanks to commissioners Pat Cotham, Bill James, Matthew Ridenhour and Ella Scarbrough for joining Commissioner Puckett in approving the new funding plan and ensuring that the 13 projects approved by voters nine years ago finally will become reality. The next step is to find out when these projects will move forward. I am contacting Mecklenburg Park and Recreation staff today to see when we will know. We will share that information as soon as we can. Sincerely, Darlene Heater, Executive Director University City Partners   Learn more about the County Board’s decision Here are links to recent news articles by The Charlotte Observer to fill you in on the details. “Voters approved millions for park projects in 2008. Why haven’t 13 been funded?” July 30, 2017 – Read article “County rejects soccer stadium deal, passes the cost – and Memorial Stadium – to city”...
There’s still time to restore “lost” greenway funding

There’s still time to restore “lost” greenway funding

The debate over county funding priorities has dominated local news for weeks. We may not know the outcome for days or months. One thing we do know: People wanting commissioners to fund long-delayed park and greenway projects here and throughout Mecklenburg County still have time to influence the outcome – via emails, letters, a community petition and even by button-holing commissioners at the board’s next meeting, 6 pm Aug. 2 at the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center, 600 E. 4th St.   Background about the 2008 parks bonds lost funding Thirteen park and greenway projects whose county-bond funding was approved by voters in 2008 have not been completed, and the county’s proposed Capital Budget through 2023 has no money for them, either. Those 13 projects include three in or close to University City: securing and paving the gravel portion of Mallard Creek Greenway; building the first phase of a regional park near Highland Creek; and expanding the overcrowded Mallard Creek Recreation Center.   What’s soccer got to do with this? Much of the discussion about restoring funding for these park and greenway projects centers around a project that is included in the proposed Capital Budget: replacing county-owned Memorial Stadium and adjacent Grady Cole Center with a 20,000-seat soccer stadium. A private group hopes to bring a Major League Soccer team to Charlotte and would help pay for the new stadium, plus lease and manage it, if it wins the franchise. The City of Charlotte also would help pay for the new stadium. If the deal does not work out, some County Commissioners favor adding the 2008 park and greenway projects to the...
Does soccer-stadium deferral mean money for greenways? Not yet.

Does soccer-stadium deferral mean money for greenways? Not yet.

Efforts to restore several park and greenway projects to Mecklenburg County’s five-year capital-improvement plan – including the paving of a gravel stretch of Mallard Creek Greenway – got indirect support on Monday. County commissioners voted to approve the $1.7 billion plan except for $43.75 million toward a $175 million pro soccer stadium, with a decision on that money deferred until August. If the board votes in August not to fund the soccer stadium, the board could then reallocate the money to other projects, said Commissioner Dumont Clarke, who made the motion. Commissioner Pat Cotham said she wants the money, if pulled from the stadium, to go toward greenway and parks-and-recreation projects.   Deferral will give City Council more time to decide on stadium plan Commissioners approved the deferral to give the Charlotte City Council more time to decide if it will join the county and private investors in replacing aging Memorial Stadium with a 20,000-seat soccer stadium. The private group hopes to win a Major League Soccer team for Charlotte.   Links for more information Watch the stadium-deferral debate (To view the discussion, advance Monday’s meeting video to 3 hours: 03 minutes) Watch the WSOC-TV report of Monday’s meeting Read the Charlotte Observer article on the stadium plan and city-county past votes. Share your thoughts with the commissioners – Mecklenburg commissioners say they heard from many people about this issue and about using the money instead for greenway and park-and-recreation projects including the Mallard Creek Greenway improvements. You can add your thoughts, as well, by calling or emailing the commissioners about your preferences.   County Board contact information Ella...
Commissioners hear plea to pave Mallard Creek Greenway

Commissioners hear plea to pave Mallard Creek Greenway

There’s still time to ask our County Board to recommit to funding the paving of Mallard Creek Greenway’s gravel stretch through University Research Park. The board, which held its budget hearing on Monday, will finalize the operating and capital-improvement budgets on June 12-13 before a final vote June 20. Here’s what the board heard Monday and how to share YOUR thoughts, too.   Budget background The Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners is nearing approval of the county operating budget for fiscal year 2018, which starts July 1, and a five-year Capital Improvement Plan for fiscal years 2019-2023. The Park and Recreation portion of the capital improvements plan provides $277 million through 2023, including about $119 million for a professional soccer stadium. No longer in the plan is more than $70 million to finally complete 12 park and greenway projects whose funding was approved by voters in 2008 – including the Mallard Creek Greenway paving. Previous county plans have called for allocating $7 million-$8 million a year to finish those projects, whose total cost is about $72 million.   Money to complete 9-year-old project list At Monday’s budget hearing, park and greenway advocates joined University City Partners in urging commissioners to recommit to funding those 12 projects. “We hear almost daily about the benefits of greenways,” University City Partners Planning Director Tobe Holmes told the board, noting that a 2015 survey found that two-thirds of Mecklenburg residents rank greenways as very important. Darlene Heater, executive director of University City Partners, wrote board members about the extensive efforts put forth by UCP over the past three years to secure easements that will allow...