MoRA Independence Blvd Update 3/4/16

Between the problems with the Independence Boulevard contractor and a very expensive utility relocation needed at the Idlewild/Rama/Monroe intersection, our stretch of Monroe Road is literally at a crossroads.

MoRA has been talking with NCDOT and CDOT  (the State and City departments of transportation) to get some answers.  Thanks to both departments’ quick responses to our inquiries, this is what we know.  More importantly, by opening conversations we hope to be able to update you as things evolve on these two projects as well as the LYNX Silver Line planning.

Summary

  • NCDOT hopes to hire a new contractor for the Independence Blvd project by late March.
  • CDOT will hire a project team for the Idlewild/Rama/Monroe Rd intersection in the next few months that will include community meetings for public input. The City part of the project funding will be in a 2016 bond package; the state will also commit funds to the project.
  • CATS and other agencies will hold a community meeting on the Silver Line in our area in early April. Stay tuned for details.

Independence Boulevard Work Stoppage

Because of the heavy news coverage about the Independence Blvd contractor walking off the job, many of you expressed concerns about the impact on that project.  By the time you read this, the news media may be advancing the story but this is what we know.  NCDOT hired Lane Construction on an interim contract and invoked the project’s performance bond.  That requires the bonding agency to present a plan to continue work that is deemed satisfactory by NCDOT.  That plan will mean that Lane or another company will get the contract and work will resume.  NCDOT hopes that can happen by the end of March. We will let you know what we hear.  Yes, this will cause a delay.  But no, it will not lead to cost overruns – that is why you have performance bonds.

Idlewild/Rama/Monroe Rd Intersection

This project is considerably more challenging. However, its challenges offer some long-term opportunities that could pay off for Monroe Road by adding sidewalks, bike lanes and traffic capacity.   Explaining all this takes some patience because of the players involved; please bear with us. The months ahead will allow all of you to speak up on the subject, so we urge you to stay tuned for updates.

The first thing you need to know is that there is a major private utility facility at that corner.  And the facility is in exactly the wrong place to do what is needed at that intersection.  Relocating it includes a long and tedious environmental study, and significant planning, engineering and implementation steps.  Moving it is going to cost millions.   To get it done correctly, the City has agreed to help the State of North Carolina (NOTE: Monroe Rd is a state-maintained road, NOT a city road).  Funding that work – the utility relocation and the enhanced road work — will begin with awarding a planning/design contract.  That contract will have a robust public input phase – which means you will get to voice your concerns and wishes for the larger intersection.  The construction phase will be included in a November 2016 City bond package.

The fact that area stakeholders will be asked what they want means you will have a say.  And if you support what comes out of that design work, you can vote for it.  In the meantime, development at the two corners will trigger construction of some turn lanes.  Rest assured, MoRA will let you know when the planning team is hired and they begin their work so you can attend any community meetings as well as avail yourselves of any other community input tools they may put in place.  If there is a rezoning on the undeveloped corner, MoRA will make sure you are informed as those plans are filed as well.  This is a classic example of making lemonade out of a bunch of lemons.

The Silver Line

In the meantime, the MoRA board continues to stay in touch with CATS on its Silver Line (transit from Matthews to Uptown) visioning.  To that end, CATS will be announcing a community meeting in early April that will allow you to get an update and to give your input.  What stakeholders from our part of Monroe Rd think is of vital importance to CATS.  The April event will include an open house so you can get updates on other work in the area.

-As of 3-4-2016

Contact:  Kathy Hill, MoRA Chair, at kathyhill.nc@gmail.com or 704-231-2228

MoRA is an organized group of resident volunteers and area stakeholders intent on proactively responding to the needs expressed by our community. The MoRA area is the stretch of Monroe Road between Sharon-Amity and Sardis Road North, and the neighborhoods and businesses who depend upon it.

www.MoRAclt.org

 

 

 

MoRA Board – Want a place at the table?

On February 6, the MoRA Board revisited its priorities, defined its 2016 goals, and created an action plan to achieve those goals. Members are already moving forward with board priorities. We encourage individuals who are interested in becoming involved on a significant level (board member, committee member, or volunteer) to join us. The MoRA board is a fun-loving, passionate, creative, engaged and welcoming group who are committed to making our community more vibrant and livable.  Is this you?  Send an email to Kathy Hill at kathy@MoRAclt.org!

 

 

Foodie Court concept a Knight Cities Challenge grant finalist

Community artist Leslie Scott has designed a creative project that will take on the “food-desert” aspect of our area. With no grocery stores, coffee shops or farmers markets, few restaurants, and no access to arts and culture along our section of Monroe Road, we also lack those natural opportunities to connect and build community. While Meridian Place is attracting amenities to its development, it’s likely to be two to five years before they’ll be a reality.

In the meantime, Leslie has a plan for us to work together to create a “Foodie Court” at the heart of our community. This dynamic gathering space will give neighbors a place to congregate, access to quality food (community garden, farmer’s market, food truck events) and engage local talents (collaborative public art installations, performances by area artists and East Meck choral, theater, and music groups). This space will connect amateur and professional ‘foodies’ RIGHT NOW!

It’s an inspiring plan that Leslie has proposed: a pop-up, flexible, multi-purpose gathering spot accessible to all. To fund this effort, Leslie has applied for some significant local and national grants. Good news:  On January 12, it was announced that Foodie Court for Monroe Road is a finalist (out of 4500 national entries!!!) to the 2016 Knight Cities Challenge.  Stay tuned!

Community Tree Lighting + Bonfire + Refreshments + Carols

Our First Annual Community Tree Lighting was Saturday, December 12, complete with bonfire, caroling, and holiday treats.  The beautiful tree was a generous contribution provided by Bartels Construction Solutions.  Thanks also to the East Mecklenburg Chamber Choir who performed and led caroling, and The Coffee Priest for providing hot chocolate and warm drinks. The tree lights, hay bales, chalk board wish list, and other supplies — and many hours of effort — were donated by a team of individuals who came together in the spirit of the season for their community.

Community Block Party + Food Trucks + Flat Tire Trio

On November 5, 2015, MoRA came together with M Station and Meridian Place and hosted a community block party with a keg, bluegrass, and great food. M Station opened its doors so we could seetheir chic model apartments; Mexican cuisine food truck Tin Kitchen and cupcake specialty Southern Cake Queen provided great food, and the Flat Tire Trio made the evening fun and fantastic. For a few hours, this casual welcoming event was the place for neighbors – singles, families, kids and dogs – to hang out and get to know one another.  Check out the pictures and video.

Demystification! (of land use and transportation decisions)

On October 7, 2015, MoRA hosted two workshops and an open house at McClintock MS to help residents connect with the services of our city and county to understand how decisions relating to land use, transportation, and other issues important to know about are made. Citizens had the opportunity to meet one-on-one with representatives from thirteen agencies, have their questions answered, and receive help and resources. Traffic calming, sidewalks, public safety, rezoning issues, transit and transportation were all issues that were covered in the two workshops. Click here for information that was provided to attendees.

Creative Brainstorming workshop

Community artist Leslie Scott engaged community members at the Independence Library on November 4 in a dialogue about how we see our area of Charlotte, its history, its future, and its strengths. Together we uncovered those key, deeply valued characteristics of our community that will inform the creation of public art installations at Meridian Place and around the Monroe Road corridor.  Leslie described some of the current initiatives in the works and opportunities for collaboration on public art projects in the area.

And then there was MoRA!

From information gathered at the Town Hall meeting paired with the feedback of several surveys for the middle Monroe Corridor, it is clear that we are much more than a neighborhood coalition. Our all-volunteer group of engaged citizens and area stakeholders are passionate about the potential of our area and we are intent on driving the impending transformation. We are a place where community-building events and initiatives can get started, and we plan to be a resource for key information. We are MoRA: Monroe Road Advocates and we invite you to join our efforts!

First Annual Town Hall Meeting at East Meck HS

On September 2, 2015, the Monroe Road Community Association hosted a Town Hall meeting at East Meck High School.  An enthusiastic turnout of 150 confirmed that our community desired a more vibrant, livable area and is ready to come together to create it.  Our presenters described how we got here, our achievements to date, the unique assets available to us, and what’s in store for the future.  Click here for the PowerPoint presentation, and stay tuned for our Second Annual Town Hall Meeting planned for September 2016!

MoRA Awarded NBS Grant

In August 2015 the Monroe Road Community Association was awarded a Neighborhood Matching Grant from the City of Charlotte’s Neighborhood & Business Services. This funding has allowed us engage in branding and brainstorming activities, create a logo, build this website, and begin our outreach to the community. In return for volunteer hours and in-kind contributions, the City awarded MoRA $10,761 in matching funds. This one-year grant was recently successfully completed by MoRA — more than six months early — and another grant is being applied for.  Thanks, NBS, and shoutout to Jennifer Duru, our NBS Southeast Area Team Manager, who shows up on Saturdays and keeps us in the loop.