Improve safety with MoRA and Sustain Charlotte walking street tour

We know added traffic to Monroe Road is making our roads dangerous. Just this year we have seen fatalities to drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians. Last month, 71 year-old Barbara Dennis was killed while driving in front of Greylyn business park, due in part to someone driving 21 MPH over the speed limit.

There is simply too much speed, too many cars, too few stoplights, and inadequate pedestrian protection down Monroe. Anyone who has been up and down the corridor during rush hour can attest that simple improvements could make the area safer.

Different plans north and south of MoRA suggests traffic will increase significantly, with few improvements to our roads. Our volunteer group is determined to change that, and ensure that safety improves for all of our residents. We already have an overwhelming number of accidents in our area.

 

Your neighborhood deserves better, and you can help make it better starting this Friday, June 23rd at 5:30 pm.

MoRA is teaming up with Sustain Charlotte for a safety walking tour of Monroe Road. Meet us at McAlpine Creek Park, our starting spot before walking up to Sardis Road North looking for problem areas for drivers and pedestrians. This dangerous stretch covers the site of May’s fatal car accident in front of the Greylyn business park. We will cover the problem areas after the tour at either Custom Home Pubs or Mi Pueblo.

MoRA will use data from the safety walking tour to advocate improvements along Monroe Road. This is a great opportunity to support your community and stop preventable deaths on our roads.

New Art Tile-Making Workshops (Free!)

The Monroe Road Advocates have been working tirelessly for months to bring our biggest plan to life: a 16-foot tall sculpture that will define southeast Charlotte. We wanted to give neighbors a true sense of place that helps define where they live. For more information on the project, visit our art page.
Things were moving according to plan until the sudden passing of our friend and Art@thePoint’s creator and artist Leslie Scott. We plan to honor Leslie by bringing her last inspiration to life. Renowned Charlotte artist Lee Baumgarten will be seeing this project through to completion, but changes require more tile for the project.
Here’s your last chance to create tiles for the iconic Art@thePoint sculpture to be located at the “point” at Monroe Road and Conference Drive. Bring the whole family out to design, craft, and put your touch on tile that will go on the sculpture. This is a great, free project for all ages!
Dates:
Tuesdays and Thursdays  June 6, 8, 13, 22, 27, 29  (6pm until 8pm)
Saturday, June 17  (12-2pm)

Sign up using the following link: 
http://www.signupgenius.com/go/4090449a4a92fa4fe3-artthepoint
All workshops are held at Meridian Place, 6423 Monroe Road (between M Station and McDonald’s), on a first-come basis. Visit our Facebook events page for more updates, or to share which tile shop you are attending.
We are very close to our donation goal! One tax-deductible donation can make this sculpture a reality.

Will the Matthews superstreet make Monroe Road even more dangerous?

The Proposed Superstreet

If you have driven through Matthews recently, you have almost certainly seen signs against the proposed “superstreet.” Monroe Road extends past the MoRA area into downtown Matthews, the lanes cut in half, and the resulting John Street connects to 485. It is a guarantee you have been slowed down due to traffic.

There are plans to expand John Street into a superstreet, a setup that looks very similar to a highway. The group Preserve Matthews is concerned about the proposed changes, which they believe will needlessly increase traffic while ruining the small town feel of historic, downtown Matthews. If you haven’t been to downtown Matthews recently, you should check it out. You can walk between a bunch of great food destinations, tap rooms, bottle shops, and coffee roasters. They, of course, have a huge farmers market and there are frequently a bunch of festivals. I’m not sure what it will look like with a superstreet, but it may end up broken up like businesses on Independence.

Problems for Monroe Road

What’s most worrisome for MoRA residents is the potential increase in traffic brought about by the superstreet. NCDOT reportedly expects the superstreet to handle nearly 55,000 cars per day. Monroe Road already supports 40,000 vehicles per day, and increasing traffic up to 35% would cripple this residential connector. The city appears to think of Monroe Road as a mini Independence Boulevard that will accommodate overflow and passthrough traffic.

As a resident that uses Monroe Road every day I can already see the problems added traffic would create. Some sections have already proven dangerous. In just the last few months the street has seen a fatal car crash, both a pedestrian and cyclist killed by cars, and countless additional preventable accidents. This isn’t new. There were 393 total accidents along Monroe Road, Sardis Road North, Village Lake Drive, and North Sharon Amity in 2016. This resulted in 264 injuries and three deaths just on these few miles of Charlotte roads.

 

Monroe Road doesn’t need more traffic. It needs more traffic lights, better pedestrian crossings, and better turning lanes. The road should serve the community, not those passing through.

What You Can Do

The superstreet looks like the first step in turning the residential Monroe Road into a high-traffic throughway. Independence is only a mile away, and is clearly the best and fastest way to commute up and down the corridor. Why should surrounding streets serve the exact same purpose? If there’s traffic on Independence, cars will pour over to Monroe. The current traffic problems will only get worse, making it even more dangerous for residents to head to the store.

What can you do? Attend this public meeting on the John Street widening organized by Preserve Matthews. The more support they have, the better. Next, get your neighborhood in contact with MoRA as we look at ways to improve traffic, safety, and access along the corridor. Please fill out the following neighborhood survey if you want to help shape goals for Monroe Road.

The Neighborhood Bash is back with live music, food, and beer

The MoRA Neighborhood Bash is BACK and better than ever. This is definitely the top community event all year that you have to attend. Chat with your neighbors, take in some live music with your choice of drink, and enjoy some local foods.

It’s the best way to find out what’s happening in the area.

 

 

A lot has changed in southeast Charlotte since our last bash, and MoRA has even more plans for the future. Please join us on May 18th for this free neighborhood event, and bring the whole family (dogs included).

There will be food by Hawthorne’s Pizza and Common Market and local beers on tap. Live music promises some R&B, funk, pop, rock and a little reggae. There will be plenty of events and activities planned indoors and outdoors. Be sure to get there early.

Be sure to RSVP here and receive reminders about the bash. Want to get involved with MoRA but don’t know where to start? Email Dean Brodhag here and volunteer to help with the bash.

Free Wheelin’ Friday Bike Community Group Starts This Week

Whether it’s your first time biking to work, or you’re a regular bike commuter, there’s a new event getting started this coming Friday, May 12th, that’s just right for you. As part of Bike! Charlotte, the Free Wheelin’ Fridays bike commuter group is starting a new ride from a new spot – the brand spankin’ new Common Market at 4420 Monroe Road. The group will meet around 7 for FREE Common Market breakfast (brought to you by The Knight Foundation and Charlotte B-Cycle) and then head out around 8:15 to ride uptown.

We’re not saying you have to go to work but that’s the direction we’ll head anyway.

This is a great ride for beginners because:

(a) it’s pretty short (about 5 miles from Common Market to Center City),

(b) it’s a group ride, which is often more comfortable for new riders,

(c) our route will take mostly secondary or neighborhood roads, and mostly avoid busy or dangerous streets,

(d) we’re going to work, so we’re not in a hurry to get there, and we won’t leave anybody behind, and

(e) there will be some experienced bike commuters among the group who can help you with routefinding.

We hope to have a big group this Friday, and hope you’ll join us.

Advisor Mary Hopper helps navigate MoRA’s success

MoRA advocates often hear from people impressed by what we’ve accomplished in such a short time, and who are excited about the community that is being created.

The credit, of course, belongs to many. But here’s where much of the credit rightfully goes:  Mary Cagle Hopper, a semi-retired PR consultant and former planning commissioner whose vast background has been to MoRA’s great benefit because of her involvement during our formative months.

Mary is smart and funny and sharp-witted and her background is crazy impressive:

A former Queens College professor with her PhD in Romance Languages, Mary turned her business focus over to PR, where her skills earned six national awards and numerous local awards.  She was a founding member of Women Business Executives, a past president of Dilworth Community Association, and the executive director of University City Partners for five years. She was in Class 2 of Leadership Charlotte back in its founding year, now approaching its 39thclass.

Mary advised MoRA’s Land Use committee as it navigated the rezoning proposal for the development approved for Idlewild and Monroe Roads.  Her expertise comes from many years working on a number of the City’s most challenging rezonings and transportation issues in Dilworth, Midtown, South End, Freedom Drive, SouthPark.  She was on the Planning Commission for eight years, two as its chair.  Over the years, she found that her language skills have enabled her to translate arcane jargon into concepts that people could understand and embrace to improve their neighborhoods.

But before, during and after her extensive career has been Mary’s passion and activism for women’s rights.  She worked hard in the ‘70’s to get the Equal Rights Amendment passed.  (“I learned that facts and logic lose to fear and hyperbole every time.”) With the recent election results, she wonders, “Did we not often enough or well enough tell the story of what it was like for women before women’s rights?”

So, as Dr. Mary Hopper turns her attention once again to women’s rights and supporting women’s voices in local elections, MoRA is deeply grateful to have been the beneficiary of her great generosity of time over these last two years. From our branding efforts to our communication platforms to our strategic planning, Mary’s influence is woven throughout our organization.  Our MoRA community has been enriched, and we thank Mary for her passion and her intellect, for her actions and her advocacy to the profound benefit of our community and the city of Charlotte.

When to expect a new grocer and shopping on Monroe and Idlewild

City Council recently approved a major development on Monroe Road and Idlewild Road, guaranteed to change the face of southeast Charlotte. Rezoning is complete, so when will the new stores open?   Here’s what we know – and a little bit about the influence that MoRA exercised in shaping the project.

We talked with Selwyn Property Group partner Jensie Teague. He graciously worked with MoRA in implementing recommendations for the project.  Like us, he’s eager to see a clean-up of the site so that construction can begin. However, it may be 4-6 months after the engineering and permitting process.  Teague anticipates a late 2018 opening for the grocer, with the retail building under construction at the same time. The second structure has been designed to allow for outdoor seating and gathering spots, which should entice the neighborhood friendly tenants MoRA residents want.

Teague was complimentary about working with us, thanking “MoRA for both its cooperative spirit and the good advice it offered during the rezoning process.  Selwyn Property Group looks forward to continuing to work with MoRA as we build out this project.” MoRA has offered to identify and help recruit potential tenants, as well as keep the community updated as new tenants sign and open.

MoRA’s Land Use committee asked Teague reposition the store so that it was closer to the street, mimicking the “zero lot lines” that you see at Meridian Place.  That and the addition of trees and landscaping means you don’t see parked cars, making the corner more urban-looking and inviting.

Our volunteer group focused on bike and pedestrian access. We believe safety and access is an important trend that will make the MoRA area more appealing. Upcoming intersection plans should complement and flow with the Selwyn property, providing safe shopping for drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists.

City Council and Zoning Committee members complimented MoRA and the petitioner for how well they worked together.  MoRA also appreciates the assistance of City staff, as well as the guidance of MoRA Advisor Mary Hopper, during this very complex rezoning.  The development will become part of the Independence Trail bike and pedestrian path.  The 12-foot multiuse path along the Monroe and Idlewild frontage will actually be the first section built for the long Independence Trail.  The City planning staff was intent on enhancing connections within the site.  Bike racks and signage will remind motorists to look out for pedestrians and cyclists.  Improvements in building materials and decorative lighting, also requested by MoRA, will be added as the project builds out.

Stay tuned as this important corner takes shape. We will keep you informed with any news about this exciting new shopping, and of course, any other changes along our corridor.

First look inside of Monroe Road’s Common Market Oakwold

We have been waiting impatiently for Common Market to open their new and nearby Oakwold location. Southeast Charlotte desperately needs a hangout place, and the quirky and colorful local market easily fills that need.

MoRA is excited.

We reached out to Common Market for info on their upcoming opening, and got a sneak peak at the new neighborhood hangout. They have made a lot of progress since we last saw it, and promise they are opening soon.

The cool custom exterior art is good to go! Common Market plans to have their grand opening in mid-May. If everything goes according to plan, they will start serving food next week, and serve beer and wine in two weeks.

The inside space looks inviting for early morning coffee and late night drinks.

 

The new bar will look out onto Monroe Road, and offer a slew of hard-to-find brews.

 

Finally, a place to get a great cup of coffee. Our only area options are McDonalds and chancing life and limb in the Cotswold parking lot for Starbucks.

You can really get the feel for Common Market from this covered outdoor patio. We can’t wait to try out the newest neighborhood hangout.

MoRA Market Watch Spring Update