Op-Ed: Hey CMS, please don’t sell Sedgefield’s green space for quick cash

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Editor’s note: The author is the president of the Sedgefield Neighborhood Association.

There are so many wonderful things going on the city of Charlotte and growth is a central theme. That’s why a group of concerned citizens were surprised when CMS decided to sell to the highest bidder some prime land located on the Sedgefield Middle campus that was deemed by them as “surplus,” taking it out of the public domain.

When we are growing and need more space, why should we lose this space when and where it is most needed?

Many neighborhood members and the neighborhood associations of the areas of Sedgefield, Dilworth, South End, Freedom Park, Collingswood, Colonial Village as well as organizations such as Sustain Charlotte, the Raptor Center are working together to find ways to save this land from development and keep it for public use.

We invite you all to drive, walk or bike down to McDonald Avenue to Sedgefield Middle. Notice the 3.7 acres between the baseball field and the concrete footpath near the creek. We invite you to explore this open space and natural space and enjoy the greenery, the trees, the noises of animals and how this bit of space is different than all the growth we are seeing all over Charlotte.

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Image via Google Maps

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While you experience this space we want you to consider the reasons this coalition was formed to oppose this sale of this land. If this sale is of concern to you, please consider joining us and making your voice heard.

More information is posted on our website: www.saveoursedgefieldland.orgWe’re also hosting a community awareness event this Saturday with activities, information, hot dogs and a free workout if you want to come out and tour the land and see what they’ll be missing if it’s sold.

Why is calling this land “surplus” questionable?

  • The city plans to increase density surrounding the light rail line.
  • The area adjacent to the school property has seen a 108% growth in apartment homes alone just since 2012 (that is an additional 9,000 units).
  • There’s the real potential of redistricting and/or student reallocation requiring expansion of this school site in the near future.
  • The absence of alternative close-in sites for additional schools to meet future demands of city.
  • The Sedgefield Montessori school on the campus currently uses the land (including its natural old growth forests and wetlands) for experiential learning opportunities for its students.

It seems clear: Sedgefield Middle will need to expand. Look at all the close-in building and densification that the city of Charlotte is promoting. The school itself is at or close to capacity, says the principal. The school has a wonderful growing Montessori magnet growing at this location and adding 9th grade this year, with hopes of growing one grade per year.

The land being sold could be used to shift ball fields, leaving prime space for enlarging or adding buildings to the campus.

Plus, green space is in short supply.

  • Sedgefield has a paltry amount of green space, as does South End.
  • Population increases will only make the above point more poignant.
  • Charlotte’s investment in wetland preservation and creek improvements seem wasteful in light of the destruction of this green space.
  • Given all the deforestation from the Marsh development and in adjacent South End, this property represents an actual tree save area that helps meet the city’s 50% tree canopy goal by 2050.

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This property sale decision cannot and should not be made solely on the basis of school needs. This decision is more complicated than that and the citizenry deserves a comprehensive approach by its elected officials that considers ALL the ramifications of selling this county property to a private developer.

Please consider asking questions. Growth can be good, but it needs to be done smartly. Is selling this public land for quick cash the right thing to do?

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