CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Part of north Charlotte has been plagued by violence for years -- this summer, someone opened fire at a block party killing four people along Beatties Ford Road.
Now, city leaders are promoting their efforts to improve that corridor.
Mayor Vi Lyles, City Manager Marcus Jones, CMPD Police Chief Johnny Jennings, city council and community members announced new plans Wednesday for an opportunity zone.
City leaders listed projects that are going to be completed by the end of the year, including the Gold Line and Five Points Park, but there’s still a lot of frustration, which seems to eat away at the sense of community so many want.
Residents said they need more places to eat, shop and other businesses, but most importantly they said they want to feel safe.
Some business owners said police are doing a good job communicating and being visible in the community, but on top of the pandemic, people are afraid to come to the area.
Resident Beronica Bostic shops in the area, but she still worries.
“I want to be able to come to Food Lion and do my grocery shopping without watching my back or feeling intimidated,” she said. “It’s very alarming.
Charlotte city leaders promised they’re working to make the community safer. They, along with private partners, went over their ongoing efforts, which include cleaning up the neighborhood and affordable housing projects.
The city is also spending several million dollars to help fund important projects, including a new mixed use office building near the old Excelsior Club, a new commercial development at Lasalle, and free public WiFi.
At Wednesday’s announcement, Lyles addressed Charles Billings whose son, Jamaa Cassell, was one of four people shot and killed on Beatties Ford in June.
“We have not forgotten what that means. We have not forgotten your son,” she said.
Billings said it was the first time he heard from a city leader since losing his son.
“I hadn’t seen a city leader or anything. Four people got killed and you don’t hear nothing from the city,” he said.
Billings said what happened in June shouldn’t have happened.
While he and others were skeptical of the promise of safety and a better future, the mayor and the city are continuing with a message of hope and optimism.
“We know what today is, but we all will dream for our future on this corridor,” Lyles said.
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