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Schools, Crime, Medical Facilities were Featured Topics at SCRA Meeting

(February 23, 2008) The Steele Creek Residents Association held its 2008 Annual Meeting last Thursday at Southwest Middle School. Featured speakers included Guy Chamberlain, Associate Superintendent for Auxiliary Services of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS), Captain John Williams, Commander of the Steele Creek Division of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, Chris Hummer, Administrator of Carolinas Medical Center in Pineville, and Tim Gibbs and Andy Grzymski of the Charlotte Department of Transportation.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools

Guy Chamberlain discussed plans being developed to provide new school facilities in response to the rapid growth that is occurring in Mecklenburg County. CMS staff have updated their 10 year plan for consideration by the school board. The plan identifies needs that are expected to cost $2.5 billion over the next ten years. The school system needs to spend $250 million a year just to keep up with growth.

Much of this funding will be determined in the future, but several projects are already funded and scheduled for the next few years. Much of the funding will come from school bonds approved by voters in 2007.

Two elementary schools are expected to open in August 2009. The first is on the north side of Berewick. The school will share a site, which is already owned by the county, with a new district park. This school will help relieve Steele Creek Elementary School and will provide a neighborhood school for Berewick residents, who currently are assigned to Berryhill Elementary School.

The second elementary school is called "New ES #6 (Youngblood Rd/Steele Creek Rd)" on CMS lists and maps, but it actually will be located on property already owned by the school system on the northwest corner of Hamilton Road and Smith Road. This school also is scheduled to open in 2009.

A third elementary school is expected to open in 2010 and will be located in the Red Fez Club Road area south of York Road. It generally will be located on the west side of the proposed Palisades town center. CMS is working with Palisades developers to identify the precise site.

The two Lower Steele Creek schools will help relieve Lake Wylie and Winget Park Elementary Schools. Winget Park significantly reduced the overcrowding at Lake Wylie when it opened in 2006, but both of these schools are experiencing increasing crowding issues as a result of the rapid growth in Lower Steele Creek.

Also to be funded by the 2007 bonds are improvements to the football stadium and track at Olympic High School. Construction of a new field and track will begin in November or December 2008, after the end of the Olympic football season. Improvements include an 8-lane rubberized track and a synthetic turf field. These should be ready by fall 2009. In spring 2010 Olympic finally should be able to host a track meet.

A 4,000 seat stadium with a field house, concession stand, and restrooms should be ready for the 2010 football season.

Mr. Chamberlain also discussed other plans for new schools and renovations in and around Steele Creek:

  • $7 million renovation of Steele Creek Elementary School. #54 on the priority list. Funding probably would be included in a 2011 bond referendum.

  • Comprehensive renovation at Olympic High School. #38 on the priority list. Funding probably would be included in a 2011 bond referendum.

  • Renovations at Kennedy Middle School. #58 on the priority list. Funding probably would be included in a 2011 bond referendum.

  • A new elementary school to relieve Berryhill Elementary School to open in 2012.

  • A new high school in the Palisades area to open in 2012.

  • A new middle school in the Palisades area to open in 2013.

  • Renovations at Southwest Middle School.

These plans depend on approval by the school board and availability of funding and certainly could change over the years.

Mr. chamberlain encouraged the audience to e-mail him at g.chamberlain@cms.k12.nc.us if they had questions about school construction and renovation plans.

Steele Creek Division, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police

Captain John Williams, Commander of the Steele Creek Division of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, said that the officers of the Steele Creek Division are working hard to address crime issues in Steele Creek. He said that although crime certainly should be a concern, crime in Steele Creek is no worse than other areas in Mecklenburg County. He said there's "nothing out here to worry about that's any different from other areas in Charlotte."

He said the area with the biggest concentration of crime in the Steele Creek Division is the Arrowood/Archdale area along Nations Ford Road, where violent crime is common. The area has a large Hispanic population, and they tend to hold on to their money rather than putting it in banks, which makes them targets for crime.

The major crime issue in Steele Creek is property crimes, the majority of which are committed by juveniles. The police can't resolve that issue; it's up to parents to do that.

He said that property crimes drive violent crimes. He said that 500 guns were stolen out of vehicles in Charlotte last year. These guns wind up on the street where they contribute to violent crimes. He encouraged the public not to leave guns in vehicles where they could be stolen.

He recommended that the public should sign up for e-mail notification of crime alerts and meetings on the NOTIFY ME: CMPD ALERTS web page.

Captain Williams said that a major issue that the Steele Creek Division has to deal with is the same that most other local government agencies face: growth. Although residential and commercial growth continues in Steele Creek, the division has received no additional officers to keep up. He said this is a major issue that will need to be addressed when the new police chief is named in June.

Carolinas Medical Center Healthplex

Chris Hummer, Administrator of Carolinas Medical Center in Pineville, discussed plans for a healthplex and medical office building to be located on the south side of S Tryon Street west of RiverGate (behind the volunteer fire department).

The healthplex is a freestanding emergency room. Unlike an urgent care facility, the healthplex will be staffed by board certified emergency physicians on a 24 hour basis. Typically only 10% of patients who come to emergency rooms are admitted to the hospital. Those cases would be transferred to another facility, but the healthplex would be able to treat and release at least 90% of the patients who come there.

They expect the healthplex to receive 12,000 visits in its first year, but it will be designed to accommodate up to 20,000 visits a year.

Also on the site will be a 60,000 square-foot medical office building. This building will have an additional floor and increased size over the 40,000 square feet building that was originally planned because of growth that has occurred in Steele Creek.

The urgent care facility operated by Carolinas Medical Center on S Tryon Street near Westinghouse Boulevard will remain open. Presbyterian Healthcare is also opening a medical plaza across S Tryon Street in Steelecroft that should open sooner that the healthplex.

In the future, Steele Creek residents will have several choices for urgent care or emergency services. Health care providers will need to work to educate the public on when to go to an urgent care facility, when to go to an emergency facility within Steele Creek, and when to go to an emergency facility in Pineville or elsewhere.

Charlotte Department of Transportation

Tim Gibbs (tgibbs@ci.charlotte.nc.us)and Andy Grzymski (agrzymski@ci.charlotte.nc.us) of the Charlotte Department of Transportation discussed current and future roadway projects in Steele Creek.

They said that three major projects recently have been completed in Steele Creek: the additional lanes added to I-485 between Arrowood Road and I-77, the widening of Highway 49 from Tyvola Road to the Buster Boyd Bridge, and new sidewalks along Sandy Porter Road.

Two upcoming projects are the realignment and intersection improvement of Shopton Road West and Dixie River Road at Steele Creek Road in the vicinity of the future Berewick Town Center.

Steele Creek Road is expected to be widened sometime between 2021 and 2030. (See Garden Parkway, Steele Creek Road Widening on Long Range Road Plans.)

Road improvements are needed in areas like Steele Creek where formerly rural farm roads are becoming busier as the area transitions towards urbanization. Upgrades will be needed to handle traffic better and to provide safe places for pedestrians and bicyclists. However, as with most other local government agencies, city and state transportation departments are experiencing funding shortfalls and are having trouble keeping up.

Comments and Questions?

If you have comments or questions about issues presented at he meeting or about the meeting itself, please contact the speakers, send a message to info@steelecreekresidents.org, or talk about it on the Steele Creek Residents Association Message Board.

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