A year to build a whole lot of dreams on

By: Deon Roberts, editor//November 9, 2010//

A year to build a whole lot of dreams on

By: Deon Roberts, editor//November 9, 2010//

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If 2010 is remembered for anything in Charlotte, it’ll be the year of grand plans. That’s how I’ll remember it, at least.

Despite a year in which the economy has been in the toilet, with high unemployment in Mecklenburg County and other crappy stats, such as nightmarishly large numbers of foreclosure fillings, people haven’t failed to dream big.

No one around here has let negative news beat their hopes down or kept them from shooting for the stars.

You might be able to blame the people in charge for a lot of stuff, but you can’t accuse them of not letting their imaginations run wild, like a pack of teenage girls who’ve just been told that Justin Bieber is on the other end of the mall, with his shirt off.

We’ve been introduced to all sorts of goals and visions this year, from a streetcar line to making buildings in uptown more energy efficient to increasing the city’s sustainability.

But, like the future of the economy, that of some of these dreams is uncertain.

Take the plans for the streetcar.

We learned in July that the city won a $25 million grant to build a 1.5-mile streetcar line, part of what will eventually – if all goes according to plans – be a larger line, 10 miles long to be exact.

But like waking up to realize that we were only dreaming, we later learned that the city doesn’t have the approximately $1.5 million it will cost to run the thing every year.

Many people thought that was just crazy, like asking a friend for money to buy a new car when you know darn good and well that you don’t have the money to make the monthly payments.

I’m willing to bet that a lot of people would put that in the “What were you thinking?” pile of dreams for 2010.

Next, there’s the “Envision:Charlotte” plan, which was announced in September at the Clinton Global Initiative in New York and is backed by Duke Energy, Cisco, Charlotte Center Partners and Mayor Anthony Foxx. This project is supposed to make buildings in Charlotte’s “urban core” more energy efficient, according to the press release.

The plan is to get about 60 commercial buildings constituting more than 15 million square feet to participate.

I can’t help but wonder if when the Envision:Charlotte organizers got together to create their plan they met in an office with no lights on, only the free light provided by the sun illuminating the boardroom. I wonder if they all walked or biked to those meetings or (if they met in an office building) they took the stairs instead of wasting the energy it takes to operate an elevator. I wonder if the plan calls for no more nightly light shows at the Duke Energy Center, which is owned by Wells Fargo.

But never mind. I’ve gone and gotten off task.

Lastly, there’s the Sustain Charlotte strategy that Shannon Binns created. Binns wants Charlotte to become a more sustainable city. Sustainable has all sorts of definitions, if you try to look it up online. Basically, it refers to practices that don’t hurt future generations. So, it applies to the way buildings are built and resources are used, among other things.

Binns unveiled his 2030 plans for Charlotte last week, but what he didn’t do was detail exactly which projects would arise from that vision.

What it did, though, was become yet another dream to add to the lineup for 2010.

But that’s OK, because, as the Blondie song goes, “dreaming is free.”

Deon Roberts can be reached at [email protected].

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