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dubone

A large urban park in Charlotte?

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atlrvr....you should forward all these ideas to someone...maybe Meck Co Park & Rec....somebody...I'm not sure...you would probably know the right person.

In any case I don't want a great idea like this to just be something that exists only here on UP. The people in charge in GovCo at least need to hear about it.

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I'm envisioning a park that will serve many functions for Charlotte's future.

Of the 120 acres, I could see it being broke out into the following.

10 acres for 4 baseball fields.

5 acres for 2 soccer/flag football fields

2 acres for 6 tennis courts (including 1 with stands)

2 acres for 6 volley ball courts (including 1 with stands)

2 acres for 5 basketball courts (including 1 with stands)

4 acres for assorted other active recreation facilities (bocce ball, croquet, horeshoes)

30 acres of wooded natural space containing a 15 acre pond w/ row boat rentals

10 acre "Great Lawn"

5 acre "Less Great Lawn"

2 acre grand promenade extanding through park

2 acres for picnic shelters

1 acre pavillion with concessions

25 acres for future cultural facilities (Opera House, Symphony Hall, and smaller specialized museums)

That leaves about 20 acre left over for something else.....I don't know if we want to do a children's zoo too, or more open space, but it is obvious that 120 acres would allow for a LOT of amenities.

One other point that I had forgot was that besides the two adjacent LRT stops, it will also be less than 2 blocks from the Little Sugar Creek Greenway.....it would be relatively simple to join them, allow joggers/walker and bicyclist another mile or so of solitude.

For the future cultural facilites, how about a large in-ground Greek style amphitheatre, large enough for small concerts, if that 120 acre parcel has as slope or hill sufficient enough.

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I was condering it.....I've been racking my brain as to people I know who could really lean on the people who could put this in motion.

I know people at Parks & Rec and Economic Development, but being out of state, it's difficult for me to fully pitch this idea....plus I'm not so generous to spend several thousand dollars out of pocket to get conceptual renderings drawn.

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A problem with relocating the rail yards is that the central location gives Norfolk-Southern easy access to all of their lines through town, and vastly simplifies interchange with CSX. The intermodal yard can be moved easily, since it just needs to be on the Atlanta-Washington mainline and near a major highway, but the main switching yard would be much more difficult and expensive to displace.

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Continuing some of the parks discussion from the "For sure projects" thread, I am creating this thread for news/ideas/discussion on urban parks in Charlotte.

I was thinking about where in the downtown area Charlotte could possibly build a park of the scale and urbanity of New York

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I don't think the discussion has changed over who will pay to make move the mainline passenger, freight, and future high speed and light rail lines underground.

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Many of those tracks are tied to the intermodal yard and the current train station, both of which will move. Those tracks that you are mentioning would remain. My idea would be to leave those lines right where they are, including their current elevation. As part of park construction, the elevation of the "ground level" would be higher, built over the park. Structural elements between the tracks would support the park, and gradual grade change would go on the blocks of the park between the main streets and the tracks.

Without all of the tracks from the station and the intermodal yards, the tracks would cover a fraction of the area they currently cover.

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No really. If you look closely at that plot of land, the intermodal yard takes up about 25% of that land at best. The rail lines will still be there an in fact will take up more room than they do now because the LRT will have its own 2 track grade, and the HSR will also require its own rails. (though Amtrak could share it) The rest of the plot is already developed land that would have to be bought out, leveled, and then redeveloped.

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I dont really know what configuration the rail lines will have after all is said and done. But if a park could be built over what lines there are, this would be a great idea. There would still be many ??? to consider. First could a city of this size support such a large park? With the current state of Optimist park the first few years of this park might become housing for vagrants and homeless. Without the residential density and mix of uses surrounding it, there would not be enough "park goers" to deter these people.

There is a decent grid network here, but alot of infastructure would need to be improved. Looking at this map really shows what a terrible job the city has done at keeping the grid in place. Look at all the numbered streets that don't connect through to the north/south roads like Catalina, Tryon, Brevard, Davidson, etc???? Makes you wish we had some forward thinking minds in Charlotte for the last 50 years like we have on UP.

We need to get some of you guys on the city council and other planning organizations because I just dont think the current stock has the vision for such projects. Not to mention the masses of nay sayers living in the suburbs who dont want any money spent on public efforts like this.

Anyway, if the points that Metro brought up could be resolved, and the #'s and $$ work, then it would be a great idea.

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I'm not expecting this to be a 'right now' thing. I think if the county can make it part of a 2025 plan, they could slowly buy the parcels as they come available and do a feasibility study to identify the true future plans for the rails with the intermodal yards gone, the passenger station gone, and LRT and HSR added. Plus a feasibility study could determine the engineering costs for structures over the tracks.

Part of creating a vision is that the area builds up and changes in anticipation of the future state, eliminating the pertinence of the current state of Optimist Park. That is especially true, as it is already turning around.

I'm not saying there aren't costs and challenges of this plan. But I do believe that is about time that Mecklenburg Park and Recreation start accepting that this is an urban place, and that crappy flood prone or parks on contaminate land are not enough anymore.

The land north of downtown is gridded, surrounded by major interstates, and planned rail transit. The neighborhoods have pre-WWII housing stock, and plenty of sites for infill. There are also plenty of industrial warehouses that will likely lose their viability when the intermodal facility moves. It is time now to remake this area with something visionary that can reshape a significantly large area of the central city.

I didn't expect everyone on here to be supportive of such a plan. But is about time we start expecting something out of our parks system beyond dirty emails and dirty parks.

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I am not convinced this is a technically viable plan. There is a major rail corridor that goes right through the center of that property and it's not going to do anything but get busier and get larger. Diesel locomotives and freight cars make a tremendous amount of noise and I don't think there is any good way to put them in an enclosed tunnel to quiet them down. And diesel locomotives can't be just sealed up inside of something.

Unless these rail lines can be located elsewhere, I am not sure this makes for a good place to have a park.

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There is a vertical separation between the rail and the park in this plan. The rails stay put, the park goes over them. There will be a number of the rails that go away with the passenger station and the intermodal yards, as they are basically to create a bunch of places for trains to park. But even if there are 8-10 tracks that remain, it would be much much easier to build over railroad tracks than 8-10 lanes of freeway traffic, like they claim to be able to do over 277.

Humankind dams up rivers, splits atoms, melts glaciers, reclaims a country from the North Sea bed, creates massive underground networks of water distribution, sewage, and urban subways system, and launches people into space. What about our local city makes people give up before even trying to overcome an engineering challenge (if this could be called on). We don't really have to do much engineering for anything outside of utilities, transportation and buildings so people seem to not even bother trying to expect much out of our engineers. If my great-grandmother's generation could do all of these things, why can't we?

I don't believe it takes that much engineering to put some grass over railroad tracks. It costs a little bit more money than putting grass over a garbage dump, but, um, so what? It is about time this city started to get more vision about what is possible and start making it so.

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As an engineer, one of the first things that I was taught when I got into industry was "There is no engineering problem that can't be solved if you throw enough money at it". That is the issue. I will tell you that trying to cap a track for a park where diesel locomotives travel is very very challenging and will far exceed the costs that anyone is going to willing to pay for it.

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Noted: it will be pricey.

Just like the costly greenway system, it could basically be planned and built out very slowly over a period of a few decades. As Norfolk Southern sheds the tracks, the county could buy the land.

The fundamental facts, though, are that the neighborhoods around the yards are slowly changing from their industrial past. Optimist Park and North Davidson no longer have the mills. But they retain industrial uses and zoning because of the trucking system that has grown up around the intermodal yard. Once that goes away, the costs for the industrial facilities that remain in the area will go up, and the benefits for remain in that area will go down. Plus, with residential growth and revitalization already fully established uptown and in North Davidson, and starting in Optimist Park, the area is firmly on track for conversion to an urban residential district.

In this area, the land values are among the lowest in the city. The crime is very very high. It is a wasteland of brownfields and blight.

We need something very significant to turn this area around, to fully take advantage of its location, its infrastructure, and to allow the loss of industrial uses to be a okay rather than causing an increase in blight.

A large urban park is just the right tool to make that area right, and bring in significantly more tax revenue. In fact, it is so much likely to turn around the area, I'll bet that we could push for and get a TIF zone approved to pay for the park. Even if it costs $300m, which I doubt, it will probably have more of an impact on the city than the arena. The city could afford that, so why not afford a legitimate urban central park.

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I personally think it's an awesome plan. Yes, cost will definitely be an issue, and I don't think city council will go for it. Their priorities are in different places. I'd love it to work out though.

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Note: Chicago just spent something like $400 million on Milennium Park, an urban park on top of a segment of tracks that is just 3 blocks long. Now, there were other expenses involved here (massive parking deck, improved train station, amphitheater, etc) but a big chunk of the project was definitely the cap over the tracks. Reno spent $170 million to build a trench a mile or so long (about as long as this one in Charlotte) with no cap and no greenery on top.

The intermodal yard takes up less than 1/3 of the entire yard - about 100 yards deep along N. Brevard. At its widest point, not including the two tracks from the intermodal yard, and two tracks from the train station, on Google Maps I count this yard as 30 tracks wide. I don't know if I'd want to just build a cap on top of the yard as is - it would be expensive, and the idea of switching hazardous and explosive chemicals underground sounds like a recipe for disaster. And where else could a yard be built that has such ready access to all the major railroad lines intersecting in central Charlotte?

I'm not saying this plan doesn't have merit, it absolutely does! but I am saying - let's bring it down to earth here. Just throwing money at the problem of the railroad yard to relocate all the switching facilities and build a cap over the remaining thru-lines is not a solution that is likely to happen in the next 30 years. Are there any creative solutions that may not be perfect but cost a lot less?

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The cheap way out of this is to build a sound barrier wall, just like NCDOT does on their highway projects. Cover the wall in some greenery, add in some pedestrian crossings and you are good to go.

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There isn't much of a sound wall that can fix a fully loaded freight train with multiple engines. The ground vibrations alone will defeat the wall. In any case, that would slice the park in 1/2.

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Thanks, O, for the comparisons and the practical concerns. I wasn't able to find other cities' attempts by googling. I also didn't think about the explosive materials. Does anyone know if there is a reasonable expectation that some of that rail switching could move to the airport with the intermodal yards? Or does it need to be located centrally as that is where the rail lines split to other regions. The yards are definately holding back this area. I guess i'm looking for a way to mitigate it.

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It's going to be hard to re-route those tracks given there are plans to build Gateway Station in downtown. As a minimum you are going to have to have those lines open for passenger rail traffic.

Railroad companies are very very reluctant to give away ROW, BTW.

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The NE LRT line is targeted to parallel or run near North Tryon correct? This would be a great idea to get in front of the firm that eventually wins the rights to developing the Design Guidelines for the northeast LRT line TOD. I agree this park would fail right now, but as part of a 2025 vision that complements under construction transit oriented development that emphasizes mixed use construction surrounding LRT stations, it would have a great chance of success.

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Not that close to downtown. The NE line instead will go through Noda, and then follow a little used freight line up to Sugar Creek road. If the city comes up with approximately another $40M it will be rerouted to N. Tryon approximately near the Asian mall.

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