City of Charlotte Community Engagement Supervisor, Randy Harris, leads Lincoln Heights Neighborhood Association leaders in a conversation about potential programs for their West Charlotte community during the Neighborhood Board Retreat on July 13, 2019. Photo: Olivia Richard

During Saturday’s Neighborhood Board Retreat, more than 100 community members gathered to discuss the state of their neighborhoods and how to improve residents’ quality of life.

The half-day retreat is hosted twice a year by the City of Charlotte’s Housing and Neighborhood Services to assess critical needs within each neighborhood and identify resources to address them.

“Every neighborhood has different needs, goals and ideas –– there is no Band-Aid fix that is going to work for everyone,” said City of Charlotte program manager, Philip Freeman.

Attendees represented nearly 20 neighborhood associations and coalitions in fast-changing Charlotte areas like Belmont, Pine Valley, Lockwood and Montford Park. Groups discussed solutions ranging from increasing voter registration and neighborhood park development to helping residents remain on their properties despite gentrification.

Gentrification and community revitalization were critical topics for groups like the Lincoln Heights Neighborhood Association and the Pine Valley Homeowners Association. Residents have come under increasing pressure to sell homes that have been in their families for generations.

“We have people who get multiple calls a day from people wanting to buy their homes from up underneath them,” said Pine Valley resident Debra B. Anthony. “We need to help make sure that when our neighbors say ‘I’m not going anywhere, this is my home,’ it means something.”

Members of the Pine Valley Homeowners Association discuss a new community vision during the Neighborhood Board Retreat held at the Goodwill Opportunity Campus on July 13, 2019. Photo: Olivia Richard

The Oaklawn Park Community Improvement Organization focused on navigating the process of becoming a “historic” neighborhood.

“Our community has been home to some of the most influential activists, leaders and individuals in Charlotte’s history,” said Oaklawn resident Melissa Gaston. “We are working to make sure our community history is honored and preserved –– that’s a top priority for us.”

In addition to mentorship, each participating group received a $1,500 Neighborhood Matching Grant from the City of Charlotte to assist in implementing the solutions discussed.