Monday, February 2, 2015

Charlotte City Council takes an in-town road trip

You've been hard at work, day after day, trying to stay on top of the daily blizzard of to-dos. Getting the kids to soccer practice. Keeping the boss happy. Balancing the checkbook. Shopping for groceries. Walking the dog. Sometimes it feels like you're so busy doing things that you can't even remember if you're actually doing the right things.

So, every once in a while, you take a little time off from the daily grind, maybe think about those big-picture issues that get lost in the fog of everyday busy-ness. And suddenly, it feels like you've got a better handle on things.

Seems like that's where Charlotte's City Council found itself at the end of last week. The council members, on their annual planning retreat, spent Wednesday and Thursday doing bus tours of all the council districts, stopping at specific spots where district representatives could point out specific issues or projects. For instance, District 1 representative Patsy Kinsey showed council members the ongoing city-backed renovations at Mecklenburg Mills in NoDa. Here's a video the city produced from that stop:

After the tours, council members on Friday gushed about how much insight they'd gained by getting to see some of the city's key places, people and issues first-hand. Not surprisingly, the seven district representatives, who by design fight for their specific part of town, were among the most ebullient.

District 3 representative LaWana Mayfield thanked her colleagues for being open to learning more about specific challenges in the districts. "We won't always agree, but for me, this has been the best conference for our council retreats that I have been a part of to this point."

District 6's Kenny Smith agreed: "To see how we govern was an important part of this retreat for me ... when we're up at the dais and when we vote, I now have more insight into your thought patterns and hopefully you have more insight into my thought patterns. To me, this was just a great retreat."

To which one is tempted to say: You guys really ought to get out more often.

And it appears they will. Mayor Dan Clodfelter suggested they look for issues they can block out a couple of hours on specific days for "targeted mini-tours." That's a good idea. City Council members are part-time public servants, generally facing a blizzard of staff-generated reports and analysis on issues of the day. And since we elected them, not the staff, we need for them to actually know what they're talking about when they're sitting at that dais. They can get a much better sense of the city's needs by seeing things first-hand. Much better than say, sitting around a (high-priced) conference table in Pinehurst or Asheville, the typical hosts for planning retreats.

So, good for our City Council members. Here's hoping other local government leaders take notes.

--Eric Frazier


Wiley Coyote said...

So when will they hop aboard a CATS bus and do the Boondoggle Tour?

Stops could include the Arena voters didn't want, the NASCAR HOF & Whitewater Center just to name a few.

I would have said board the light rail boondoggle but it only goes in a strait line. At least with all those suits on the it will bump up the ridership numbers.

Cedar Posts said...

So what did they learn? The list seems rather short.

You don't have to drive far to see waste and lack of government oversite.

Take the intersection of Queens and Queens, City Council caved to Harris Teeter and CDOT remove 1/3 of the turn radius on the Providence and Providence side to the intersection creating a bottle neck.

They could visit Rea Road widening project or the Elm Lane and BCP intersection to see more of the same, or follow BCP toward Providence Road through another bottle neck.

Maybe spend a night on Central, or Eastway or W T Harris for some real excitement.

Potted plants everyone of them.

Eric Frazier said...

Fair question as to what they learned. We weren't aboard for the bus trip, but here's the itinerary. That'll give you a sense of things:

City Council Retreat-Wed Jan 28 Tour 12:45 p.m. from Dressler’s

District 6 Tour Highlights

A Colony apartments redevelopment

B Sharon United Methodist Church

C Woodfield South Park

D Capitol Towers at Carnegie

E Park South Drive Extension

F Circle at Piedmont

G Piedmont Town Center

H Park Rd S. development

I Major Retailer interest between Park Rd. South

and Barclay Downs Dr.

J Sharon Square

District 7 Tour Highlights (bold are stops)

A Rea Road widening project (under construction)

B Elm Lane

C Elm Lane/Ballantyne Commons intersection project

D Blakeney

E Ardrey Kell

F Community House Road farm-to-market project

G Community House bridge

H NCDOT projects

I Ballantyne Village Ballantyne Commons East

District 3 Tour Highlights (bold are stops)

A Berewick Town Center

B Charlotte Premium Outlets

C City Park

D Veterans Administration Site

E Renaissance Hope VI Housing Development

F Dove’s Nest – Charlotte Rescue Mission

G New CMPD Westover Police Station

H Arbor Glenn Hope VI Redevelopment

I Barringer Senior Development

J Wilmore Neighborhood

K South Corridor Residential and Commercial Development

City Council Retreat-Thurs Jan 29 Tour; 8:45 a.m. from Duke


District 1 Tour Highlights (bold are stops)

A Cherry Neighborhood

B North Tryon Vision Plan

C Urban Ministry Center

D Mecklenburg Mills

E Lockwood Neighborhood

F Applied Innovation Corridor

District 2 Tour Highlights (bold are stops)

A Brightwalk Development

B Joint Communications Center

C North Carolina Music Factory

D Charlotte Gateway Station

E City LYNX Gold Line Phase 2 Station Information

F Tarlton Hills Apartments

G Mosaic Village

H Beatties Ford Road Corridor Points of Interest

I Crime Stats in Beatties Ford/LaSalle Area

J Alpha Mill Apartments

District 5 Tour Highlights (bold are stops)

A Coliseum/Ovens

B Coliseum Shopping Center

C Walmart

D Meridian Place Development

E Ashley Place Market Rate Housing

F New Neighborhood Market

G Four Seasons Shopping Center

H Executive Center Drive

I Eastland Fire Station 42

J Eastland

K Shamrock Farm-to-market road project

District 4 Tour Highlights (bold are stops)

A Sugar Creek Station

B Old Concord Station

C Tom Hunter Station

D University City Station

E McCullough Station

F JW Clay Station

G Sugar Creek Hotels