Friday, March 22, 2019

Kicked in the teeth by opportunity

Approximately 4.5 acres of prime land. Based on the density of the grass this property is very fertile and would make a great community garden. The only real limitations are lack of parking and no running water.

Sometimes you are just slogging through your day and you get kicked square in your teeth by opportunity when you least expect it.

I was in Charlotte running a few errands. Mrs ERJ was at Vico 23, an emporium of hair, finger-nails, eye lashes and all things feminine and beautiful.

I dashing about town knocking down my Charlotte errands. We like to consolidate trips.

And Then...
This lady I just sort of know grabbed my by the ear and said, "Hey, look at this."

Overview to show surrounding development. The property in question is due east of the parking lots with Team One Chevrolet labeling.
We walked a bit of the property. I would have walked more but I needed to pick up Mrs ERJ.

The lady explained to me that she was affiliated with the organization that was trying to develop the property as some kind of community asset.

The difficulty her organization ran into is that they want whoever develops it to maintain it. That is, treat it like they owned it. Alas, that is where the grand plans come crashing down.

In the short time we toured the property, the lady said any number of uses had been batted about: Dog park, Community (aka Allotment) gardens, Basketball Courts, T-ball fields etc.

Everybody is energized by putting monuments in or on the ground. The hairball is coughed up when the planners are asked, "What is your maintenance plan for the next five years."

ERJ's Proposal
Split the parcel into four, nearly equal sized chunks.

Approach Fraternal Organizations: Eagles, Moose, Lions, Knights of Columbus, Masons, Optimists, Locals in Business and the like. These organizations have been stalwarts in Adopt a Highway programs so I think they would be receptive to adopting a portion of a park.

Present an à la carte menu of possible uses. The suggestions are just thought starters, if they can think of a better use then that is great! Examples include all of those listed above and also include some very low maintenance items:
  • Dog park...This is probably the best single candidate. There are two "Farm and Ranch" type stores within spitting distance and they both welcome pets. A dog park would be a useful extension to their business, especially if trainers agreed to use the park.
  • Community (aka Allotment) gardens/orchard
  • Basketball Courts
  • T-ball fields
  • Photo back-drop garden for weddings and senior class pictures
  • Raptor nesting platform structures. How cool would it be to have Bald Eagles? 
  • Koi ponds (gotta feed those eagles)
  • Simply commit to mow their 1.1 acres on a regular basis
  • Disc golf course...This was added because it would not be able to justify a park on its own but can easily piggy-back on other uses.
Then present it to the organizations as a five year commitment. It is not as daunting as asking them to bench-press the entire 4.5 acres. The expectation would be that they could re-up at the end of the five years or another Fraternal Organization could step in.

Maybe five years is not the right length of commitment. Maybe two or three years would be acceptable to the lady's organization if there is enough interest in the Fraternal Organizations to pick-up the load when the starting team needs a break.

The concept of dividing up the risk is similar to the Dutch East India Company. Engaging in business halfway around the globe was beyond the pockets and stomach for risk of any one family. By joining forces and dividing up responsibilities many families, heck many cities, became wealthy.

The needs of the lady's organization is just a bit too large for any one person to tear off, chew and swallow. Breaking into smaller and more managable bites is one step. Another step is to approach organizations with many people. The third and fourth steps are to be up-front about maintenance and to manage for succession.


  1. Nice idea. Add in some Boy Scouts to do Eagle Projects to fix things up . . . ?

    1. We talked about Scout service projects. Maintenance was the shortcoming.

      Is it more valuable to install ten bluebird boxes or to clean out fifty and to monitor and evict sparrows for a season?

      Guess which one is easier to get approved as a service project?

      They guy who builds the barn is a hero. They guy who stays home and milks the cows for thirty years is a patsy.

  2. ERJ Noting that results may vary. I HATE dog parks ! They are in many communities. Here are some concerns that many don't consider. 1 park for all dogs Or a couple of parks. One for small dogs, one for large. Having only 1 park can mean larger dogs bullying small dogs. It happens. Who cleans up the poop. Mowing a yard and maintaining a fence is one thing but tell the city or service organization they need to scoop the poop ! Yeah. Who check to make sure the dogs using the park have the shots. Or is it who cares cause rabies and other disease never happens. What about the problem of animals being dumped ?? Depending on your community. Does your local animal control shelter take all animals no questions asked any time ? ? If they do I bet they kill for space. If they don't...always someone who isn't responsible who is looking to get rid of a dog ( or cat). If your local shelter doesn't take all dogs without any problem For Sure people will from time to time bring dogs to your dogpark and just leave them there ! Count on it. Who answers the call when someone ( or their dog) gets bitten ? Who carries liability ? ( Can you tell I hate dog parks?) I like the rest of your suggestions. ( Ok...not sure about Koi ponds). Anyway in general who carries the liability insurance ? Some communities also like skateboard parks. Liability is again the main issue ( plus they aren't cheap to build)

  3. I like your idea about breaking up the maintenance and hitting up the businesses!

  4. If they do Koi ponds you will be feeding more Great Blue Herons than Bald Eagles...just saying.

    Like the concept, but, yeah, the liability will be the wet blanket.


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