Bond to improve Charlotte neighborhoods on ballot, councilman says key to city’s continued growth

Bond referendums on the ballot in Mecklenburg County

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Many people cast their ballots on Thursday for the 2020 election on the first day of early voting. But it’s not just candidates you’ll be voting for, there’s also three city bond referendums you’ll see on the ballot.

Those bonds are total more than $197 million for transportation improvements, affordable housing, and neighborhood improvement if passed.

The city says these will work to improve the city of Charlotte as the city continues to grow.

The money for the bonds is already approved within the city budget so there’s no tax increase if the bonds pass.

One bond that’s grabbing the attention for many is the $44.5 million bond for neighborhood improvement. Sidewalks, landscaping and better lighting are all things the money would go towards if the bond passes.

“In order for us to ensure that investment comes to the community or a corridor, we need to make sure the infrastructure is there to support it," said city councilman Malcolm Graham.

His district oversees the Beatties Ford Road area, which is one of the neighborhoods where the bond money would be used for. He says the infrastructure improvements would help bring developers to the neighborhood and help revitalize the area the city calls “distressed.”

“We want to make sure, not only we have the development there, but we have the streetscape and the curb and gutters to create the community presentation to invite people in to the community," he said.

The bond money would be used towards enhancing sidewalks and safety improvements along the six corridors of opportunity, an initiative launched last month to improve certain neighborhoods by blending private and public partnerships to develop certain areas.

Those six areas are: Beatties Ford/Rozzelles Ferry, Central/Albemarle, Freedom/Wilkinson, I-85/West Sugar Creek, North Tryon/Graham and West Boulevard.

The bond would also support the Comprehensive Neighborhood Improvement Program and invest in five neighborhoods, some which are the same as above. Those neighborhoods include: Central/Albemarle/Shamrock, Prosperity Village, Sunset/Beatties Ford, West Trade/Rozzelles Ferry and Whitehall/Ayrsley.

The Comprehensive Neighborhood Improvement Program, if funded by the bond, would link these neighborhoods with employment centers, parks, transit and schools. It would also connect streets, sidewalks, trails and bike lanes to existing communities.

“If you look at our roads, there’s often times debris, leaves, trash. Just areas of opportunity where we can come in and do a little bit of clean up," said Sybil Noble, who lives in East Charlotte.

She says road improvements, fixing potholes and better landscaping could make a huge difference for East Charlotte.

“Focusing on the infrastructure, it would not only promote a better sense of community, but it would lead to more jobs on the east side, it would allow for more businesses to want to open up shop," she said.

Some neighbors say increased infrastructure and more development in the areas could push groups of people out who have traditionally lived in these neighborhoods. The city has said in the past regarding the Corridors of Opportunity that the economic development is not to get rid of anyone, instead create a better place for them to call home.

Those include a $102.7 million bond for streets to upgrade traffic control systems, improve pedestrian safety, build bridges, sidewalks and bikeways and better connect neighborhoods to each other.

There’s also a $50 million affordable housing bond to leverage private investment dollars to provide affordable housing for low and moderate income individuals and families in the Charlotte area.

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