West Charlotte residents expressed some reservations at a public forum Tuesday night on extending streetcar service out to Beatties Ford Road. But many said they would support the streetcar if their questions are answered.
The event was hosted by a group that in the past has supported the streetcar. Some described the meeting as a call to action for the east and west sides of town to mobilize support for a 10-mile streetcar line from Rosa Parks Place Transit Center on Beatties Ford Road to the former Eastland Mall.
The African American Caucus of the Mecklenburg County Democratic Party sponsored Tuesdays discussion at Little Rock AME Zion Church. Mayor Anthony Foxx helped kick off the night.
Will it cost us something to build the city that we want to be? Foxx asked.
Yes, he said. Pay now, not later. Lets get it done and make this community what we can make it and were going to be fine.
Several panelists from City Council member Lawanda Mayfield to west Charlotte business owner Rasheedah Hasan took questions and gave their input on the proposed streetcar.
Hasan said that while areas like the Beatties Ford road corridor are attractive because of their diversity, they lack investors and opportunities for development.
Laying those tracks shows permanence. It shows that were serious about investment, transportation and infrastructure, Mayfield said. At the end of the day, it does take money to make those investments.
Later, audience members directed questions to the panelists.
Ruth Sloane, who lives in Lincoln Heights, said she wants to know whether the city would pay her if it displaces her during construction of a streetcar line.
What are you going to do for our homes? Are you prepared to take our homes and not pay us? Sloane said. We want the streetcar but we want our questions answered.
Resident Pride Patton said he wonders if development along the east-west corridor would really benefit the predominantly black community in west Charlotte. He said it would draw in new people that would push out current residents.
That track aint for us, he said.
Still, others applauded the streetcar as ahead of its time and an economic engine.
Lisa Rudisill said she supports the streetcar because it might help spur business development and reduce the need for cars.
And Susan Lindsay said to invest in the streetcar would be a sounder decision than catering to cars and building more roads.
Who invests in 19th-century technology in the 21st century? she said. Who invests in gas when its going up and makes us dependent?
The next streetcar forum, sponsored by the South Charlotte Democrats, is scheduled for 6:30-8 p.m. Thursday at the Hindu Center of Charlotte, 7400 City View Drive.
Arriero: 704-804-2637 Twitter: @earriero
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