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BizWorthy: Greenway Plans May Change After A South Charlotte Neighborhood Complains

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Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation Department
A greenway planned for south Charlotte could see a change like this one in its route after a neighborhood complained about potential traffic.

The Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation Department may change its plan for a section of a greenway in south Charlotte. That's after residents said they don't want their neighborhood off Carmel Road to be linked to the trail. At issue is a three-quarters-of-a-mile section that's planned along McAlpine Creek, not far from Carmel Country Club. Tony Mecia of the Charlotte Ledger Business Newsletter has been following this story. He joins us now for our segment, BizWorthy.

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Marshall Terry: Tony, if you will, remind us why residents are opposed to having their neighborhood on this Greenway.

Tony Mecia: Sure. This is a section of the greenway that's planned to be built over the next few years that's near Pineville-Mathews Road, just to the north of there. There's a neighborhood that links to Green Rae Road near Carmel Country Club and the middle school of Charlotte Country Day School. The neighborhood is about 100 homes. And they say, as the county is planning this, that the county needs to pay attention to the fact that because of the middle school being there, there is already a lot of traffic and they anticipate problems with parking if the greenway is built and connected to their neighborhood because they think people from around south Charlotte are going to be parking in their neighborhood to use the greenway. So they're concerned about that. They don't want that greenway connection built. There was a meeting on that this week in which the county laid out some other options.

It's fairly unusual, Marshall, to have neighborhoods say they don't want to be connected to the greenway. A lot of times the greenway is built and if there's not a neighborhood connection, the neighborhoods, come back and say, "Oh, we wish we could connect to that." So the county hashed through some of the different options with the residents this week.

Terry: And what are those options?

Mecia: Well, they said first of all, they heard the neighbors loud and clear that the neighborhood is pretty unified in opposition to having this connection made to the greenway. And so the county said there are a couple of things they could do. If they don't connect it to the neighborhood, they could either make it like a loop in the sense that, you know, you would have trails on each side of the creek. Or they could just sort of end it at Pineville-Matthews Road and not do that additional three-quarters-of-a-mile extension because it would essentially be a greenway to nowhere. It would just sort of stop along the creek and then you'd have to head back.

Worth noting, Marshall, that eventually the county would like to build out a total of about 300 miles of greenways throughout the county and that this portion would eventually connect to another greenway closer to Providence Road.

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Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation Department
A look at another potential change to plans for a greenway in south Charlotte.

Terry: Let's venture a little outside of Charlotte for a moment. There was an update this week on the Catawba Indian Nation's plan to open a casino in Kings Mountain.

Mecia: Yeah, the Observer reported this week about a lawsuit that's been filed by the Eastern Band of Cherokee against the Catawba, who want to build a casino. That lawsuit is being expedited. It's because the Catawba have already started construction on this casino in Kings Mountain. It would have about 1,200 slot machines, they say could open by the fall. So it's looking like it's going to be sort of a contentious sort of thing. The Cherokee, of course, run casinos in western North Carolina. The closest one is in Cherokee, North Carolina, about three hours outside of Charlotte. So there's definitely, I think, some sort of worries about competition there. But the Cherokee say that the permit for the casino was granted illegally, that the Catawba don't have the right to build that.

Terry: You report this week, that Charlotte Douglas International Airport has a new director, at least temporarily. Who is it?

Mecia: Her name is Haley Gentry. She's been with the airport since 1991. Her first job out of college was as an intern at the airport. Just held a variety of jobs there, worked her way up, worked for Jerry Orr or and then worked for Brent Cagle, who was the airport director until a few months ago when he went on assignment temporarily for the city manager.

So Haley Gentry is the new face there leading the airport, Marshall. It's a tough time in the airline industry. And we had a profile of Ms. Gentry in The Ledger this week. And she just describes how it's interesting kind of coming up in an industry that was really male-dominated, but has worked her way up into the top job out there at the airport.

Terry: Finally, Tony, you recently interviewed Central Piedmont Community College President Kandi Deitemeyer. One of the things you asked her is what career paths are hot right now. And you wrote that you were surprised by some of her answers. Why is that?

Mecia: Yeah, I mean, it's a tough time for a lot of industries right now, Marshall. But she was saying there are several that they can't train people fast enough. They have people going through programs learning to be truck drivers, learning to be welders. That those industries are very hot right now. They still have a lot of students coming through, a lot of interest from employers in filling those kind of jobs. Those haven't gone completely virtual. She said it's a little dangerous trying to teach people welding over Zoom, which I think is completely understandable.

She also said that there's still a pretty healthy interest in the culinary and hospitality areas. Those are areas that have been hit pretty hard with the pandemic and people not going out to eat. But they still had about 600 people this fall taking courses in culinary and hospitality, training for that time when those industries are going to be a little bit healthier.

Terry: All right, Tony, thanks.

Mecia: Thanks, Marshall.

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