Often, the Ballantyne Breakfast Club’s annual priorities meeting has a most popular table.
In 2015, visitors flocked to the transportation table, eager to ask questions about proposed toll lanes, said Ray Eschert, the club’s founder.
This year, several hundred people gathered outside the Ballantyne Hotel & Lodge ballroom before the meeting began, and when the doors opened they surrounded CMS board members Elyse Dashew and Mary McCray.
If nothing else, it proved the point that an informed community is a better community. When I look at the room and it is that congested, I’m happy.
Ray Eschert, founder of Ballantyne Breakfast Club
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People shouted questions, some expressing frustration that the school board members didn’t have a microphone and others asking whether the school board would be considering forced busing or other changes that could break up neighborhood schools.
“Our goal is home school proximity, period,” said Andrea Mikels, who was one of a group of people wearing bright green shirts to represent their cause.
While the majority of people -- Eschert said some estimate as many as 500 attended the meeting -- converged around CMS representatives, many stopped by tables around the room manned by officials from public and private agencies.
The annual prioties meeting is a time for residents to ask questions and learn about agencies’ priorities, Eschert said.
Eschert said the meeting spawned many good discussions between residents and officials, whether it was a question about the new Sara’s YMCA or about why a health club wasn’t being inspected for mold.
“If nothing else, it proved the point that an informed community is a better community,” Eschert said. “When I look at the room and it is that congested, I’m happy.”
Other officials at the meeting represented higher education, parks and recreation, transportation, city planning, the YMCA and police. Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts also was in attendance.
Eschert said several major priorities are emerging for the Ballantyne area in 2016, and many will be addressed at upcoming meetings of the Ballantyne Breakfast Club.
Here are some issues that Eschert identified:
▪ Police presence: Ballantyne does not house a Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police precinct, which Eschert said increases response times. He expects progress to be made in 2016 in locating a precinct in the Ballantyne area.
“There’s been a long-established need for an additional precinct to cover the south area,” Eschert said.
▪ Education: As the school board continues to discuss issues related to student reassignment, Eshert said he would consider hosting a breakfast club meeting to focus on education.
▪ Traffic: While improvements have been made recently on Johnson Road and I-485 in Ballantyne, Eschert said roads such as Ardrey Kell continue to get backed up. Large developments such as Waverly and Rea Farms along the Providence Road corridor also will impact traffic in the Ballantyne area, he said.
“(We need to look at) what can be done to alleviate some of the congestion issues,” Eschert said.
▪ Commercial and residential development: A hotel and new office buildings are being developed in Ballantyne, and more residential development is expected as well.
“The growth is going to be something we constantly have to look at,” Eschert said.
The Ballantyne Breakfast Club is open to the community, and its next meeting will be in April. For more information and details about upcoming meetings, visit http://www.ballantynebreakfastclub.com.
Marty Minchin is a freelance writer: firstname.lastname@example.org.