Meridian Street Shakers and Movers

Yes, there are auto shops, a party rental store, and electric supply stores on Meridian.  There are also iconic and out-right uber cool new retail sites now, and the success of the  Lincoln Academy and Village can’t be understated.  And NOW, just for FUN, this Sunday is the inaugural Tweed Ride in Huntsville starting and ending at businesses right off Meridian Street. It is a regional draw….yes, it’s a thing and we are just now hearing about it!

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Lowry House, 1205 Kildare St

Tweed Rides are an internationally popular way to mix it up with people devoted to leisure for an afternoon, wearing fine or vintage street clothes, exploring the city on slow bikes, talking to each other, enjoying a spot of tea at the park and picnicking with a jazz band.  A group from Memphis is coming to Meridian Street with their Bone Shaker Bikes!

Beth Norwood, host at WLRH public radio and a resident of our area, interviewed Brandy Baird and me, Frances, on Nov. 8th to learn more about the NEHCA and the ride.  The Darwin Downs neighbors received a special shout-out as the Original Tiny House Community.

 Shakers and Movers since 2006

The Tweed Ride is also the first time our Association is sponsoring a special event to showcase the progress on Meridian Street, the western “limit” of our service area. Think of downtown as the heart with arteries like Meridian Street. Much of the progress on Meridian is a because of private investments, later supported by city investments in street scape as mentioned in the 2006 Downtown Master Plan.
The most recent investment is in the rennovation of the Lincoln Mill Commissary building, formerly home to an antique store and stage theatre.  The very current and classy Preservation Company will fill part of the building.  Holt Leather Company will sell high end goods from the other section, and they employ 35 people making the goods sold all over the country.

Ten years ago people would have thought you crazy to visualize Meridian Street as home to a renovated Lincoln Mill business center (thanks Ana and Jim Byrne and Wayne Bonner), an uber cool retail stores in a renovated Lincoln Mill Commissary (thanks, Butler family),  a flourishing Lincoln Village Ministry (thanks Mark Stern, Southward Presbyterian, First Baptist, and other churches).   The Downtown Master Plan of 2006 put Meridian street on the radar, and the private investments were complemented by  attractive street lights, long sidewalks, bike lanes, and new construction design standards.

When you hear the call to participate in the Master Planning Process or The Big Picture this winter, please make every effort to attend, will you?

In any event, make a visit to the interior of Lincoln Mill, check out the shops in the Lincoln Mill Commissary, volunteer at Lincoln Academy, and while you are here, enjoy the sound of old fashioned commerce rolling through our area!  (Warren Buffet is watching BSNF, too.)

 

 

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Master Plan Taking Shape

The first session of the Five Points and Northeast Huntsville Master plan was productive. Have a look at the list of Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats!  More to come in January.

Click here: http://bigpicturehuntsville.com/five-points-northeast/

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Big Picture, Big Deal? Yep, for the king and queen of the castles.

To: Your Highnesses of Five Points and All other Points in NE Huntsville, being kings and queens of your castle

From:Your humble and professional Staff of Huntsville Planning and Zoning and the elected leads of the NE Huntsville Civic Association

You are invited to the first Big Picture planning session for our small area, to scheme and dream of the perfect community surrounding your castle, and to clarify what you want done with our tax dollars and contributions earmarked for the city budget!

Join the BIG Picture planning session on October 17th at 6PM at the Cooper House (405 Randolph Ave. SE).  You will be able to participate in interactive exercises to help your civil servants create a Small Area Master Plan for the neighborhoods. This event is free and open to the public. People who RENT or Own Rentals are also welcome! 

Before the meeting, please consider asking yourself: “When money is no object, and I am in charge, I will ( build, tear down, improve) ___________ for my community.  What do I enjoy most about the area and what do I want to improve? What are the opportunities to create a close knit, healthy community?   What will I spent my cajillion dollars on?

Is this worthwhile?

Your highness, as king and queen of your castle, be assured this process is important because it will inform future capital expenditures in the area.

For example, so far:

  • the Ditto Landing Master Plan resulted in new programming and construction on the river

and

  • the Downtown Master Plan fostered new private investment in housing and commercial services, and at the commoner’s street level, the construction of dedicated bike lane and improved walk ways.

Planning staff has identified six principles that will guide the final plan:

  • Build a Live/Work/Thrive Community
  • Expand a Sustainable, Resilient Economy
  • Design a Mobile and Accessible Transportation Network
  • Maintain a Network of Exceptional Education
  • Support Local Arts and Culture
  • Develop Healthy and Active Neighborhoods

Small Area Plans are created from public input and are tailored to the unique challenges facing neighborhoods and opportunity sites. Do mark your calendar, your highness:

Oct. 17, 6 pm, at the Cooper House (405 Randolph Ave. SE)

Special thanks to the Central Presbyterian Church for the use of their facility. 

More information on this event and the BIG Picture can be found at

http://bigpicturehuntsville.com/

Neighbors in need: Ya say ya saw a Yeti?

Adam Rosetta was baffled by the sight of something strange on our Land Trust Trails out of Oak Park, in particular, on the Dallas Branch Trail.  He shared the sight with others on the Nextdoor.com site but no one else could back him up on the sighting.  Adam, living right next door to me, knew he could count on the Association to back him up.  The best we can do, we said, was get everyone together to look for it.  Join us!  Send a text to 84483 with the letters: EventsOP to get updates.

Yeti tracking for web

 

Each Block a Village

VillageOur villages are changing, especially in in Five Points- for now.  Smallish mill-village houses are replaced by 30 ft. tall houses covering 40% of a 40 x 100 ft. lot.   Cottages in a commercial zone are torn down on Pratt and sit fallow-for now.  Some say we are under siege by developers and builders, others see simple business opportunity in the adage location, location, location.

During the special meeting on July 26 with the director of current zoning regulations,  we learned that there are no back-room special deals going on nor any secret subdivision of property in Five Points.  The “Big Four” on Pratt are built on narrow, deep lots that exist by plat made in 1892. The previous house was built across the lot lines.   The town homes on Dement are also built “by right” in a higher density zone of R2,
west of Andrew Jackson, by submitting construction plans and applying for a building permit.

We learned that all property in Five Points east of Andrew Jackson is zoned for single family homes, even where the apartment buildings and trailer court stand.  When an apartment building is renovated, it can remain, but if it is torn down, the owner must receive a variance through public hearing to replace the apartments otherwise only single family homes can go on the land.  As for the land where Emma’s tea room stood, the front of the parcel is still zoned commercial, the back facing the athletic field is residential.  Any change to that arrangement is by public hearing at the Planning Commission.

After the special meeting, a small think tank of residents convened to discuss how the culture of our mill villages may be preserved.  People bought in Five Points because it is eclectic and people still set a spell on their front porch and wave.  Thinkers asked: How might new construction occur while preserving the village culture?  These residents  also convened to list their preferences for ways to improve the quality of life in the area.  Their thoughts and preferences are a great jump start for All of Us to participate in the making of a Neighborhood Master Plan that will guide priorities for city budget expenditures and public/private joint ventures.

The first opportunity get together to put a pencil to topics such as housing, roads, parks, business districts, and more is on OCTOBER 17, location to be announced.

Changes in Five Points + or – Meet July 26th

Are all the tear-downs and re-builds a good thing? 

  • What could go on the parcels at 401 Pratt where Emma’s Tea Room and another cottage was torn down? What about the parcels right behind them, next to the Goldsmith Schiffman field?
  • How did the four huge houses at Pratt and Maysville get approval to be built?
  • How did the tall row houses on Dement get approval to go there?
  • How does a property owner get approval to split or combine lots and / or re-define what is built there?

 

What might neighbors do to preserve the culture and aesthetics of the mill village area?

Let’s talk about it with city planners and construction experts.

Wednesday, July 26th 6:30 pm at Optimist Rec. Center, 703 Oakwood Avenue- near Andrew Jackson Way

 

If you can’t be there, chime in here: 

April 25th Meeting

Join us Tuesday eve, 4-25 at the Optimist Rec Ctr, 703 Oakwood Avenue, at 6:30 (meet and greet) & 7:00 meeting. In addition to meeting Beth Norwood, a talented neighbor, the purpose of the meeting is to decide what action we can take as a community in support of parents to influence kids to not hang out with drug dealers or try narcotics and amphetamines. (“Just say no” campaigns just don’t work.)

This activity is to follow up on results of our January meeting when members and residents voted on safety as the most important topic for us to work on together. Safety includes crime prevention… and we learned from police officers that 80-90% of crime is related to drugs!  If we tackle the drug traffic issues with kids, we have a better shot at preventing crime over the long haul.

BEFORE the meeting, we will ask for everyone’s opinion on ways we can influence kids to stay out of trouble with drugs through an on-line competition of ideas. The on-line competition will be announced via email to members and to Nextdoor accounts in our service area. DURING the meeting, we will make an action plan to implement the ideas that get the most votes and are S.M.A.R.T.  Please, invest 1.5 hours in your community at this meeting.

City Budget Requests

In June we present a list of needs and wants to the Mayor for consideration in the budget process.  Look around NE then come to the meeting or comment here and tell us what else we need from the city:

  • Beirne Park- more shade trees & ?
  • Oak Park- greening at the street, continue sidewalk east on Oakwood past the park, include trailhead signage downtown
  • Bollards along Bankhead sidewalk to protect runners all year preparing for Cotton Row Run
  • Bus shelter @ Roses Center
  • Smart timers at all Five Points corners
  • Bike Patrol of O’shaunessy, McKinley, Rison, Halsey, & Lincoln Village / Meridian Street
  • Improve drainage capacity of Dallas Branch watershed to relieve people of the flood zone designation

We hear and know that…

Oak Park Yeti ?

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Adam Rosetta reported a “sighting” of a furry creature on the Dallas Branch trail, a spur off of Oak Park Trail.  Adam heard it holler: Whaaboo!, the ‘come on out and play’ signal.  Adam says there will be a yeti tracking party in or near Oak Park this summer, followed up by a fall festival to swap stories and play games on the theme of “our”  yeti.   Join the conversation about this and other helpful (truly) information on nextdoor.com.

Gimme Shelter

On the days when you don’t want to drive out of our area but still want to explore, you may like to know that the first bus shelter for NE was installed on Monday, 4/17/17 on Andrew Jackson Way.  The shelter will mean a lot to the workers of the day-care at Jackson Way Baptist Church, to anyone who wants to ride to the new pools at the Natatorium and to kids who want to ride to the splash pad and disc golf at Brahan Springs Park.   The shelter was requested last year by your NEHCA.  Thanks go to our city Transportation Division, General Services, and Jackson Way Baptist Church.

Cross pollination of neighborhoods

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We hosted the first NEHCA spring festival and plant swap, the “Garden Gathering” at Optimist Recreation Center on Saturday, April 8th.  At least 100 generous people came out bringing items to share, to learn about other grow-y things and meet cool people from the NE Hsv neighborhoods. One man said “I think I’ll hang around a little longer and see what else shows up!” He was either referring to the great people or the cool plants. Kids made “pizza gardens”, too. We appreciated support of our city Landscape Management Division/ Green Team, C.T. Garvin’s Feed and Seed, Bennett’s Nursery, Cunningham’s Pot Yard, Mr. & Mrs. Simon of Florida and Five Points, Denise Garrison of Five Points, Anna Pollard of Old Town, and Master Gardener Mary Howe from Brownsboro. And most of all, we thank Sabrina Simõn for conceiving, designing, and implementing the festival.

Self Serve Services

Hsv Connect

Please use the city service request system known as “Huntsville Connect” or “SeeClickFix” to report blighted property, potholes, streetlights out, trashcans left out after pick up days, etc. NEHCA members see your service requests and can chime in if you aren’t getting resolution. Set up an account and use it often, please.  Sign up here: https://seeclickfix.com/huntsville

 

As always, if you see something odd going on, say something!
Call 256-722-7100 to HsvPolice non-emergency dispatch

Garden Gathering

I grew up in a greenhouse. As a child I dirtied my hands in the big bin of potting soil, started cuttings, learned which plants liked a lot of water, which plants just liked a sip, made bonsais, propagated, and learned to airfoil among many other things. The big greenhouse, its slightly cracked door always beckoning, would welcome you with dense warmth, and a wondrous smell of humus, and the gentle roar of the big fans upon the threshold. I would play between the rows of orchids, succulents and bromeliads till the sweat poured, then cool off in front of one of the huge fans.

My father and grandfather owned and operated a nursery for more than 50 years. Plants were always around. A particularly pretty flower in the window sill, a good climbing tree in the back yard, a stunning variegated green friend just outside the window, vines twisted into hedges, naval oranges picked from the backyard, a child-sized vegetable patch – I didn’t know it had permeated so thoroughly until long after I had moved from home, Simon’s Nursery had closed its doors, and I had a house and yard of my own.

After my first few walks, down the roads, sidewalks and in the quiet back alleys three years ago, I realized I had definitely moved to the greener part of Huntsville. And that made me absolutely thrilled! I was exactly where i wanted to be. So many beautiful yards and so many back yard, and even front yard gardens – shrubs, flowers, hanging baskets, vines, fruit trees, vegetables. Sure – I had kept a modest box garden on the south end of town for 8 years – but I was one of two houses on the whole street that had a garden. It seemed, finally, when Spring started knocking I’d be able to meet others who were just as excited about gardening as I was – and well… actually neighborly.

I borrowed a small tractor from a good friend, plowed up an 8’x30’ section of my backyard and got to work on my garden space. My Dad drew up a landscape plan for the house, which we dug and planted. Along and along, as I unpacked, and worked on my green space – I met my neighbors up and down my block, and then others from blocks over. I always made it a point to say hello to folks if they were outside, or if they were walking by, because well, thats the type of neighborhood Five Points is, and its part of why I love living there.

The second year of my garden, my folks came up for a visit in the middle of summer. At sunset I grabbed three baskets and harvested eggplants, onions, leeks, tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers with my Mom’s help and handed them all to my Dad on the patio. He looked back at the garden, the veggies in his hands and then up at me and said “Nano (ie. his father) would be so proud of you. Of all the things grown, he was most impressed by growing food. He would love your garden.”  I never knew that; and as i fell into the sheer depth of those kind words, it all just made me want to grow more and share more. So I shared my harvest with friends, with coworkers, with my neighbors, with family. I cooked, baked, froze, canned and pickled it all! By the time the summer was over, my friends and neighbors were running the opposite direction of me because I was always coming at them with baskets of fresh veggies.

An idea popped into my head then and there. What if I could organize some sort of local veggie swap in the middle of the summer? Or wait, better yet… What if I could organize a swap at the beginning of Spring for folks to plant gardens, or for people who never have but want to, or just for plants, or ideas, maybe just seeds, or herb gardens, or container gardens. There were so many directions it could go. And more questions to be asked. I nested on the idea for a year, grew an even larger garden, chased my friends with baskets of vegetables, and finally posted a give away for my bumper crop of eggplants on NextDoor.com. They were all gone within four hours.  So obviously some people liked fresh veggies just as much as I did. With that courage, I proposed a Five Points Garden Exchange last fall. From the handful of folks that appeared and the couple meetings we had – I gained some ideas (like historic plant swapping) and some more green friends. I decided to join the Northeast Huntsville Civic Association as their Membership chair and they added more ideas and encouragement to the original idea. It was finally go time.

Or should I say green time? The Garden Gathering is for anyone who loves things green and leafy, for anyone who grows a vegetable garden, for anyone who likes flowers, has a plant with a story, prunes shrubbery. The morning of April 8th is for kids who want to grow a pizza garden, for folks who like to cook with fresh herbs, for container gardeners, for people with fruit trees, for neighbors with more green space than house, for anyone even remotely curious about plants. From Nine to Noon at the Optimist Park Pavilion anyone can trade and swap and exchange seeds, plants, flowers, bulbs, herbs, seedlings, knowledge and ideas, and very basically, be neighborly. After all, we call Huntsville, Alabama home. At the very heart of it – The Garden Gathering is for everyone – people who grew up in a greenhouse, and for those who have never even gotten their hands dirty, but wish to.

Garden Gathering Poster

 

Trail Care Partners March Forth 3-4-17

Seven people come out on sunny Saturday, March 4th, most of them brand new volunteers from Northeast Huntsville neighborhoods.  We leveled another 200 feet by making “bench cuts” for the trail.  We also broke a large rock and discovered that brave mountain bikers can launch from the new, flat platform.
logo-trail-care-partnerAll work and no play makes everyone dull so we knocked off a few minutes early to enjoy the view from Buzzards Roost and find the new Dallas Branch Trail.  We looked but didn’t see any unusual animal tracks there.
The Northeast Huntsville Civic Association hosted lunch.  A few folks were surprised at the quality of the Costco pizza and enjoyed a beer, too.   What a great way to get to know our nearby neighbors.  Please, enjoy the trails and thank our Land Trust by donating money Or donate time…Join us!
Text “T R A I L” to the number 84483 to get notices of each work day.     Everyone who comes out is a Northeast Huntsville Civic Association Trail Care Partner to the Land Trust.  Our team, the McLeod Masters, rock!

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