South Charlotte

Beauty blossoms in Madison Central Park

Madison Park's Homeowners Association is giving residents another reason to stop and smell the roses.

The SouthPark neighborhood off Tyvola Road will soon get $25,000 from the city of Charlotte to beautify an area that once was an eyesore.

Called Madison Central Park, the new neighborhood focal point will include a nine-hole disc golf course, walking paths, benches and birdhouses.

It will be a partnership with Pinewood Elementary, which is only a few dozen yards away. The park will add more soil beds for school gardening projects.

"This area is an untapped space," said resident Lisa Charde, 38, who wrote the neighborhood's 172-page proposal for the city.

"Teaching a kid to take a seed, put it in the dirt, give it water and can just be a really great thing."

The neighborhood will begin work on the park in August, said HOA President Martin Doss.

Doss, 51, signed the agreement with the city about two weeks ago.

At the center of the park will be a rose garden the neighborhood revamped a couple of months ago as part of the Keep Charlotte Beautiful 2011 Adopt-a-Neighborhood program.

Work on the park began last August, when the city leveled the graffiti-splattered former Pinewood Elementary building along Seneca Place, across the street from the new Pinewood Elementary building.

The project will also include renovations to the old Pinewood Elementary playground, which is still standing.

The students now spend recess on the asphalt in the school's bus parking lot.

From a geographic perspective, Madison Central Park is in the center of the neighborhood, "a natural gathering place," said Charde.

A number of local businesses have already shown their support, which enabled the neighborhood to approach the city about the grant, said Doss.

Several landscaping professionals and a number of businesses, including Coca-Cola, Home Depot and Blackhawk Hardware, donated $25,000.

Now that the Madison Central Park proposal has been approved, the city has agreed to match the $25,000 the neighborhood raised.

It will do so through "sweat" equity, paying $20.85 for every hour a volunteer spends working on the park.

Charde, who moved to Charlotte from New York City, said she used to enjoy all of the public space and widespread use of public transportation in New York.

"You're just more likely to interact with people you wouldn't necessarily have otherwise," she said. "For our community, there wasn't a space for us all to come together, and hopefully this will be that space."