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Some Urge City To Say 'No' To Streetcar Grant

Charlotte has been offered a $25 million federal grant to build a new streetcar near Uptown. Monday the city council will decide whether to take the money. WFAE's Julie Rose reports that one group of concerned citizens want the city council to say "No." The president of the grassroots group "Strengthen Charlotte" sounds a little like your Depression-era aunt handing over a crisp dollar bill, with a caveat. "Just because we can spend it, doesn't necessarily mean we should spend it," says Tariq Bokhari. He and several dozen others from Strengthen Charlotte want the city council to reject the federal government's offer of $25 million to help build a streetcar. Charlotte will need to add an extra $12 million dollars from its own coffers to finish the line between Uptown and Presbyterian Hospital. That's the hang up for Strengthen Charlotte. "There's just so much need out there," says Bokhari. "Is this the biggest bang for our buck we can get with that amount of money?" Bokhari says Charlotte's $12 million would be better spent on roads, sidewalks and crime prevention. He adds that many members of Strengthen Charlotte are supporters of light rail and public transit, but question the need for a 1.5 mile streetcar line. Mayor Anthony Foxx and other city officials say the project will spur economic development. And they say it's the first step in building a streetcar line that will eventually stretch from Beatties Ford Road in West Charlotte to Eastland Mall. In February, the city council voted 7 to 4 in favor of applying for the streetcar grant, so members are likely to vote in favor of accepting the money on Monday.