Friday, April 13, 2007

How should we fix Charlotte's flaws?

When you suggest a discussion of people’s favorite things about where they live, inevitably you start hearing their least-favorite things about it too.

That’s what happened this week after I published some quotes from readers on their favorite aspects of Charlotte. (I'll have a follow-up in tomorrow's column in the New Home section of the Observer).

This is my hometown, and if I didn’t have positive feelings about it, I wouldn’t have applied for this job of educating newcomers on what’s available to them here. But I also recognize this city has room for improvement, and I’d like to hear your thoughts on how that might be accomplished.

Last night at a social event, I met someone from New York who isn’t wild about Charlotte. The only place she’s found where she feels comfortable, she said, is the Evening Muse in NoDa. (I’m a fan of the place myself). I started making suggestions – Ballantyne Village’s movie theater, finding a house of worship (even if her beliefs are nontraditional, there’s a wide variety here), etc. – and she said she doesn’t like to drive far from her home near the center city to find things she’s interested in.

Well, that’s one thing about Charlotte, for good or ill. While our options for entertainment near center city are expanding at the same rate as our skyline, we remain a spread-out, sprawling community. You’ve got to be willing to drive 20 or 30 minutes – or more - to get a full sense of what we have to offer.

I do have a basis for comparison – I have many family members and friends in Chicago, Washington D.C. and New York City, and I visit those cities frequently. I know Charlotte is very different from those places, but I also know we have enough amenities to be a pretty nice place to live or else we wouldn’t be growing at a rate of tens of thousands of people each year.

I know from the blog posts and e-mails I’ve gotten that lots of you believe this place has flaws – from bad driving to occasional shallowness and materialism. So, my question to you is, what will it take to fix them?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

First of all, I am a native. Charlotte's biggest flaw is the people here. They are not very progressive and complain about everything, from the new arena to mass transit. Mass transit can help turn this sprawling community into a more compact, pedestrian friendly place and help connect the broken pieces of this city. People here only care about their cul-de-sac, their mini-van, and church. They look backwards instead of looking fowards. Charlotte is growing and has been for the past 20 years. If you moved here and thought otherwise you are a fool.

1:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the pro-transit and progressive people need to stop being lazy, get up, and have a bigger voice in this city. They just sit back and figure someone else will do it while the anti-everything crowd goes around trying to ruin any potential this place may have.

1:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wouldn't consider flaws bad driving and materialism/shallowness. That kind of stuff happens everywhere. The lack of sidewalks (and ones that connect) and proper infrastructure such as curb and gutter, roads, and lack of transit are flaws. Not being an accepting community is a flaw. Not welcoming people who are different, such as artists, gays and lesbians, and different cultures is a flaw (and this starts at the government level, such as our homophobic mayor). We need more progressive people to take a stand and set an example. Charlotte needs to be more welcoming of others.

1:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Get rid of the developers, and we might turn into a real city one day, instead of a big jumble of look-a-like subdivisions.

Oh yeah, and get rid of the City Council that is on the developers' leash.

1:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the first step is to clean house in local/state government. As long as we have the same ol' people whose only goal is to raise peoples taxes and build pretty buildings for the rich, nothing is going to change. Crime is only getting worse, traffic is worse due to no roads and just a bunch of blow hards in govt positions.

1:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I moved here about 18 months ago and we've been very happy. I can see a world of change even in that short time in terms of bringing better restaurants, shopping, and mixed use areas.

My suggestions for improvement would be this:

1) Continue to put money into the school system. It is sub-standard relative to many different parts of the country as a whole.

2) More money into infrastructure so that the place isn't clogged up as we continue to grow. That means light rail and buses and expanded highways.

3) More money for cops and jails.

4) More cultural activities. I'd like to see more in the way of musueums, zoos, aquariums. I'd love a ballpark uptown for future MLB team.

Yes, I realize this costs money. We have a disproportionately low taxes relative to many othe major metropolitan areas. I'm comfortable with absorbing more to fund these activites. I still think we can get this stuff AND remain on the low side of the spectrum. It's worth it, IMO.

The biggest obstacle in all this is that we have two groups of people at odds with each other. Until we work past that, we won't be able to accomplish much to improve our city.

2:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

LOL this article is silly....Redneck pun... Pray for you children...

8:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am from the central Ohio area and I think the rest of the OUTERBELT has to go in quick or you will all loose your town; This town should be way out to the OUTERBELT by now. They jam tall buildings into the center of the city and leave a dangerous area surrounding it; They need to push out with the downtown and knock down the ghettos surrounding Charlotte city. Really, they need to make a city wide payroll tax to have money to complete and widen the roads. They need to turn off the faucets of People running here from all over the U.S. just because they heard theirs "GOLD in our hills". People are running here on rumors of riches and wealth here and People are buying cars they cant afford becuase they believe the phony news.

5:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A BMW is better than a pick-up truck or mini-van.

10:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Take a look at Mary Newsome's 'Naked City'and you will see what the problem with this city is. Pick up a Rhino Times or listen to WBT and you'll hear more of the same. There is an vocal element in this town that wants nothing more than to keep us in the dark ages under the veil of low taxes. When anyone ocunters them, they get blasted as communists and emotional. If more people would speak up against this venomous behavoir in this city, or even better, simply laugh them out of town, Charlotte would be a much better place and really live up to its potential. I have noticed a change in thinking over the last five years alone (I've been here off and on for 20). Keep up the good work folks and we'll be less of a Southern City and more of an American City.


3:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

First and foremost you have to fix the "Yankee" crap. I think someone should start raising hell about this. I mean come on, Imus gets fired, why not fire someone for offending me.
I'm from NY but have been here 20 years. Yet I am still a Yankee to most. What I really don't understand is that when I tell them my family didn't arrive here until 1897 from Italy, long after the Civil War, they still say I'm a Yankee.
So in reality "Yankee" now has nothing to do with the Civil War and everything to do with the prejudice and hate spewed from ignorant people.

9:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Face it some People in Charlotte and surrounding areas are generational BIGOTS; This is a term to descibe Biggotry and prejudgment passed down from generation to generation; In other words if you was not born here you are not wanted here. I can cure this problem but it will take more jobs than what we have , more time than what I have and more money than Charlotte will ever have. Folks we have Southerners hating Yankees, Blacks that stayed here and tolerated Racsism hating whites, Whites hating Blacks because their Grandpappys did. Grow up Charlotte . Look the Blacks didnt get here because you sent them an invitation to AFRICA and other places to pick cotton. The white man kidknapped them and stole them from their families and brought them here. Lets face it we have an obligation to them for education , well being and citizenship so says the COURTS so says the QUEEN of ENGLAND who is related to QUEEN CHARLOTTE who was half black herself;

1:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm a North Carolina native, but lived in the Triangle for years, before moving to Phoenix, AZ. Now I am moving to Charlotte and I see some of the same "issues" being mentioned for Charlotte that I do for Phoenix. Sprawl, issues with mass transit, trying to become a "big boy", trying to be something to everyone...and that's a good thing. Charlotte is growing. Just like Phoenix, Charlotte is trying. I see a lot of good things going on in Charlotte. I look forward to experiencing them.

7:07 PM  

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