December 5, 2008
NODA NEIGHBORS GUIDE DESIGN OF A GREEN GATHERING SPOT ALONG LITTLE SUGAR CREEK
Charlotte, NC – NoDa artists and activists have been putting their creative energies to work on a different type of artwork. As a result, an often-flooded industrial area just north of uptown Charlotte may be transformed into a neighborhood jewel.
Little Sugar Creek cuts a straight path through this industrial section of north Charlotte near 36th and North Tryon streets. For decades, the area's been home to large warehouses and manufacturing-related businesses. Destructive floods in 1995 and 1997 prompted Charlotte-Mecklenburg Storm Water Services to buy 12 buildings in the floodplain, mostly with FEMA grant funding. In addition, two warehouses and land were donated to Mecklenburg County in 2006. The buildings were acquired as part of the County's ongoing Floodplain Buyout Program and were torn down between 2003 and 2008.
The resulting open space between Cullman Avenue and the creek became a blank canvas for NoDa area residents to paint a new, vibrant picture of what they'd like to see in its place. With guidance from Storm Water Services, groups of NoDa residents began drawing their designs in March 2008. The final concept was approved this week by the NoDa Association. Residents said their highest priorities are putting meanders back into the straightened stream, adding wetlands and other pollution-removing features to the floodplain, increasing open space, and creating a community area with a farmer's market and a small stage for artwork displays and musical performances.
The proposed design also includes a community garden, walking trail, dog park, children's playground, informal sports area, and pedestrian bridge.
Storm Water Services plans to request a grant from the North Carolina Clean Water Management Trust Fund to pay approximately 50% of the stream and floodplain work. Restoring 1,300 feet of the stream and enhancing the floodplain near Cullman Avenue will cost about $500,000. If the grant is approved, work on the stream and floodplain could start in late 2009. The community would need to seek funding from other sources for other amenities such as the walking trail, stage, dog park and playground.
Storm Water Services has restored approximately 50,000 linear feet of named streams in Charlotte-Mecklenburg, with much of the work in the Little Sugar Creek watershed. The restoration projects fix eroded creek banks, repair damaged stream beds, improve aquatic habitat, and reduce water pollution levels. During each restoration project, neighbors are kept informed of the project goals and timelines. However, the extensive involvement of NoDa residents in actually drawing designs for the restoration of Little Sugar Creek near Cullman Avenue was a first for Storm Water Services.
See the proposed design sketch and learn more about this restoration project.