Did you know that over 200 neighborhood organizations including Hidden Valley, University City, NoDa, and Plaza Midwood operate in Charlotte's Northeast Service Area? The area is situated between North Tryon, East Independence and I-485, and offers easy access to everything the city has to offer. It encompasses the UNCC Campus and the Lynx Blue Line Extension. Council Districts One and Four cover the majority of the area and nearly 200,000 residents call Northeast Charlotte their home.
Community involvement is strong here and this is reflected by the impressive work of its residents. Between 2014 and 2019, the City has awarded $367,490 to neighborhoods for improvement and beautification projects through the Neighborhood Matching Grants (NMG) program. Last year, 13 communities in the Northeast Service Area were awarded these grants. An average of 12 neighborhoods also participate annually in National Night Out, a community-building campaign that promotes police-community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie each year.
Winterfield Neighborhood Association stands out for its strong sense of community in the northeast. Located between Independence and Central Avenue, the Winterfield Neighborhood was awarded their first NMG back in 2009. Since then, they have grown immensely and continue to apply for grants to enhance the safety and beautification of their community. Their most successful project to date is the Winterfield Community Garden and Children's Garden, established in 2010 in collaboration with the neighborhood leaders, Winterfield Elementary School, MCPRD, and the City. The 10,800 ft fenced space combines rented community gardening plots with a dedicated children's garden. Volunteers work to create a safe, productive, well-maintained garden that improves the community, encourages the participation and growth of each member, and fosters young gardeners.
Even with the challenges faced during the pandemic, the garden has persisted. Garden Buds, the after-school gardening club at Winterfield Elementary School, had to switch to online lessons instead of the typical hands-on garden experience as the school remains closed to in-person classes.
Carla Vitez, a Winterfield community member, shared the story of two volunteers who stepped up to manage the Children's Garden when the pandemic hit and school closed. Heliodora Alvarez and Marta Rivera grew produce to feed their families and recruited other former Garden Buds families to help care for the garden beds. They planted tomatoes, peppers, edamame, melons, beans, and a bed of okra.
"I was especially proud of the 121 pounds of sweet potatoes they harvested this fall. Heli (Alvarez) cured them and distributed them to families she knew, including a Pakistani family whose child participated in our program," Vitez explained.
"The garden was truly a haven for them this past year- a safe place to work and relax...like therapy," she said. Not only did they garden, along with their children, they observed insects, raised Monarch caterpillars, grew sunflowers for the gold finches, watched three sets of bluebirds fledge, and videoed three hawks on the garden fence. "These industrious and smart women are a great asset to our community, and they definitely are key to the future of the children's garden," said Vitez.
In addition to the great work being done in local communities, the Northeast Service Area is home to over 200 miles of adopted city streets and 54 miles of adopted stream maintained by numerous volunteer groups. More than half of residential land in this area is covered by Charlotte's impressive tree canopy, and 65 percent of residents live within a half-mile of an outdoor public recreation area. You can find individual statistics for your area via the Charlotte Quality of Life Explorer.
Recently, the City has planned two projects in the northeast as part of the Comprehensive Neighborhood Improvement Program (CNIP). CNIP focuses on connecting neighborhoods to major employment, institutional and retail areas through a network of streets, sidewalks, greenways and bike lanes. The first project focuses on the areas surrounding Central/Albemarle/Shamrock, and the second project is focused on the Prosperity Village area, These are both high-growth areas of the City in need of increased connectivity to regional nodes and employment centers, which the CNIP project plans to provide. You can explore the projects in your area here.
To learn more about Charlotte's Northeast Service Area and upcoming projects- Contact the Northeast Community Engagement Manager, Charlenea Duncan at Charlenea.Duncan@charlottenc.gov.