Saturday, March 17, 2018

Reflections on the Importance of the Beaty Park Vote

By Leah Chester-Davis

Ever since the Town Board voted 3 to 2 on Tuesday evening for the Beaty Street Property to be 100% park, I've been reflecting on that important decision. A lot of people in this town had various hopes and plans for that piece of property. Some plans may have even been considered noble (affordable housing, for instance) and others seemed for purely economic gain by some. But I truly believe Commissioners Fort, Michael, and Sitton did the right thing without continuing to prolong a debate that has been in the public arena for well over a year (this last go around) and longer when you consider the 90s when citizens spoke against development of the property at that time. There has been plenty of citizen input and citizens spoke loud and clear in numerous meetings, communiques, protests and then in the election.

Yes, citizen input is important. But in this case, all of the documentation shows that Mrs. Clontz sold this property to the town for a park.  Doing the right thing and honoring those wishes overrides collecting even more citizen input when there has already been plenty. Now that Commissioners Fort, Michael and Sitton took an important, decisive stand and did the right thing based on documentation, we can turn to citizen input once more to help shape this important community resource as a park. When Commissioners Campbell and Fuller speak of public input, now is the right time for that thanks to their fellow board members voting to preserve the property as a park.

I also can't help but think about Mrs. Evelyn Carr and Mrs. Daisy Raeford and their remarks on Tuesday night. They made me think about this quote from The Trust for Public Land, "Low-income neighborhoods populated by minorities are especially short of park space. Minorities and the poor have historically been shunted off to live on the wrong side of the tracks . . . in areas with few amenities. From an equity standpoint, there is a strong need to redress this imbalance."

No, not every neighborhood near the Beaty Park Property is low income, that's for sure. But inherently more of the west side of town is affordable and I believe numbers indicate that most of what the town calls affordable housing is on the west side of town. Open space on the west side of town is important. All of this also makes me think of the history of Sadler Square and how the ball field of the African American community was taken from them with a promise to find them another space. It apparently never happened. That, too, may be a reason Mrs. Carr and Mrs. Raeford spoke up about the need for this park. Considering the UNCC study that by 2030, 98% of this region will be built out and there will be no more open space, preserving this 19 acres for a park is another reason Tuesday night's vote was the right thing to do. It was visionary as well and future generations will be glad Venie Clontz sold it to the town for a park, and glad that citizens fought so hard for this park, and glad that Commissioners Fort, Michael and Sitton did the right thing by voting for it to be a park.

Oh, how very lovely it would be if citizens across town came together to help plan a park that we could all enjoy and be proud of.

Leah Chester-Davis is a small business owner who lives in Davidson and has been active in the fight to preserve the Beaty Street property over the past 18 months.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Overparenting is a Childhood Thief


Our intentions are sound--more than sound: We love our kids fiercely and want only the best for them. Yet, having succumbed to a combination of safety fears, a college admissions arms race, and perhaps our own needy ego, our sense of what is “best” for our kids is completely out of whack. We don’t want our kids to bonk their head or have hurt feelings, but we’re willing to take real chances with their mental health? -Julie Lythcott-Haims

What if we -- all of us, stay-at-home parents and parents who work outside of the home -- disengaged from some of the craziness of all the external activities so as to make more time to just BE with our loved ones? -Julie Lythcott-Haims

My fifteen-year-old’s day starts in the dark. He wakes up at 4:00 am (which by the way, is still NIGHTTIME!), chokes down a power bar, then heads for the first swim practice of the day. At 6:45 am, he sprints out of the pool, showers (we hope), then devours a dry PB&J on the car ride to school. He spends seven hours “doing school,” then heads back to the pool for his afternoon practice. During the car ride home, I goof up and ask him school questions: How was your day? Do you have a lot of homework?  I know he hates this! He wolfs down dinner, studies for three hours, then goes to bed, knowing he will do it again the next day. He loves swimming, and his swim friends are like family; he cannot give this up. But he also wants to do well in school. He is not much different than any other Lake Norman teenager who is desperately seeking balance.

My son’s school, Hough High, has approximately 2,800 students. The “cul-de-sac” rumor is that UNC Chapel Hill, the “Gold Standard” college, has a quota system requiring Hough students to be ranked in the top five percent of their class. The school counselor says the top students take up to ten Advanced Placement classes. TEN! And this is just to get into a STATE school! Students know they need to be ranked in the top thirty-five, so they take AP classes and honors classes instead of studying topics of genuine interest. Instead of cooperating and encouraging each other, the students are like crabs in a bucket, climbing over each other to get to the top. Just when they think they have clawed their way to the top of the bucket, they find out students passed them in ranking by taking ONLINE classes over the SUMMER! We, the well-meaning parents, respond by “helping”; we get tutors and college admission specialists and SAT classes.

The arms race continues. Students know they should probably be volunteering more often, but when? They already “do school” for 35 hours per week and participate in extracurricular activities twenty hours per week. They have the equivalent of two part-time jobs! They really should try to carve out some time to save a small village, cure a disease, or invent something. Maybe they can do that on Sunday? Whoops! Sunday is taken...They attend church, compete in travel sports tournaments, attend college fairs, and birthday parties. What happened to Sundays? Family time?

They are exhausted. We are all exhausted.

So what can we do?

School Leadership Teams (SLT) from Huntersville Elementary School, Bailey Middle School and Hough High School tackled the issue of overparenting, overscheduling and student mental health at a joint meeting Tuesday evening at Hough.

The leadership teams consist of parents, principals, counselors and teachers. SLT members were asked to read How to Raise an Adult by Julie Lythcott-Haims, a former dean at Stanford University. The meeting goal was to increase awareness of the relationship between overparenting, overscheduling, lack of a sense of purpose, and teen depression/anxiety. According to faculty SLT members, this is an enormous and increasing problem in our schools.

Educators and counselors at the meeting explained that stress starts at a very young age. An SLT faculty member stated that elementary school is a “magical place until third grade.”

What is happening to our third graders? The magic ends when testing, grades, end-of-grade exams, and honor roll begins. The stress is very real for these eight-year-olds and it only gets worse as they become teenagers. Author Julie Lythcott-Haims argues that overparenting fuels childhood anxiety and depression. Constantly striving for perfection, parents are creating a “checklisted childhood” by: preventing mistakes, protecting feelings, giving participation prizes, intervening in relationships, redshirting kindergarteners for sports, doing their children’s homework, hiring tutors and college counselors, pushing for highly-selective colleges, and sending excessive emails to teachers.

Recognizing unhealthy parenting behaviors is essential for helping our children become confident, resilient adults. One humble, brave SLT parent stood up and admitted, “We are all guilty of everything they say in this book.”

The approximately fifty SLT members broke off into small groups to discuss relevant topics: changing times, teaching children how to handle failure, teaching independence and self-advocacy skills, and how to have balance in their lives. Group leaders then presented suggestions to help parents, teachers and administrators tackle the issues.

Suggestions for the schools included: end class ranking, limit the number of Advanced Placement courses permitted, encourage students to consider lesser-known colleges, stop having projects and homework assignments during school holidays or breaks, and increase access to study hall. Parenting suggestions included: reduce the amount of extracurricular activities, reduce the focus on grades while increasing the focus on learning, increase awareness of excellent college options that include smaller schools, less-selective schools and community college, and encourage children to consider the best personal college fit. Parents were encouraged to spread the word by “speaking up in the cul-de-sac conversations” and find an “accountability partner.” An SLT member recommended telling our children, “It’s okay to get a B.”

Lythcott-Haims would agree with the recommendations made by the SLT.  How to Raise an Adult is full of parenting tips for raising resilient children: give choices, show love, build character, let kids fail, teach street smarts and life skills, stay in a committed relationship, require chores, stop handling school problems, allow children to speak for themselves, allow unstructured free time, enjoy nature, stop using our children as a tool to market ourselves on social media (the “humble brag”), keep an open mind about colleges, eat dinner together as a family, be present, and build a community of like-minded adults.

Reading the book and attending the SLT meeting affected me deeply. I left the meeting asking myself: What can I do to help restore my son’s childhood? How can I be a better parent? I found a like-minded friend to be my accountability partner. We agreed to help our sons scale back on their course load next year. I am encouraging my son to think beyond the “Gold Standard” and consider colleges where he can find success and happiness. And our family is taking back Sunday.

Recommended Reading:

How to Raise an Adult by Julie Lythcott-Haims

Excellent Sheep: The Miseducation of the American Elite and the Way to a Meaningful Life by Bill Deresiewicz

David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits and the Art of Battling Giants by Malcolm Gladwell Alternative

College Search Tools: (Colleges That Change Lives) (The Alumni Factor) (The National Center for Fair & Open Testing)

Crisis Resource: (“Supporting suicide prevention and mental health awareness in our community”)

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Davidson Coffee Chat at The Egg, Monday 9am

DAVIDSON, NC -- The Davidson Board of Commissioners invite all community members to attend a Davidson Coffee Chat on Monday, March 19 from 9:00-10:00 a.m. at The Egg at Davidson located at 231 Griffith Street in Sadler Square.

These coffee chats are informal meetings and are typically held the third Monday of the month so attendees can ask questions on issues and projects in the Town of Davidson. The next chat is scheduled for Monday, April 16 at 6:30 p.m. at The Egg at Davidson.

Commissioners will treat attendees to coffee and tea, but payment for all other orders is the responsibility of each individual.

We encourage all to attend.  For more information, please contact Town Clerk Carmen Clemsic at or 704-940-9614.

Board votes 3-2 to move forward on Beaty Street park

"On Tuesday, March 13, the Davidson Board of Commissioners voted to create a task force to develop 100% of the town-owned land on Beaty Street as a park. The compilation of the task force will be discussed at the March 27 meeting. The Davidson Board of Commissioners directed staff to work on the application process for the task force."

The above comment is from Christina Shaul, Public Information Officer for the Town of Davidson.  It comes after what was at times an unexpectedly raucous Board meeting Tuesday evening where the Davidson Board effectively ended the debate over what will happen with the 19 acres of Town land that has been the epicenter of much swirl and controversy over the past 18 months.

The previous Board's attempt to turn the wooded land off Beaty Street into a mini Birkdale known as The Lumonous project gave rise to the Save Davidson movement.  It sparked protests at Town Hall and led to repeatedly packed monthly Board meetings.  Multiple rounds of staff orchestrated feedback sessions could not make the sale to the public that the Luminous was a good idea.  The controversy eventually was a significant contributor to an election day rout at the polls for those who had pushed the project and other bad decisions.

At Tuesday's Board meeting after hearing again from several residents on the original purpose for the land being purchased for a park, particularly the bulk of it purchased from Venie Clontz, the new Board took a split vote to charge a new task force with deciding what type of park it will be and made the somewhat surprising move of saying 100% of the land will be as a park rather than charging the task force with determining how the land will be used.

The vote was 3-2 with Commissioners David Sitton, Matthew Fort, and Autumn Michael voting "for" the move and Commissioners Campbell and Fuller voting "against".  It should be noted that Campbell and Fuller weren't voting against the idea of the park but more the decision to have the vote last night and the idea of charging the task force with exclusively looking at the land as a park.

While clearly there is much to be decided before any final disposition of the land is determined, the decision last night takes some of the uncertainty about what will happen with this property out of the equation. Even coming as a split decision, this was a decisive move by the new Board.  It is sure to engender some consternation from the handful of people who supported the failed Luminous project, but it is hopefully a move that begins to close the book on this controversy.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Davidson Board Tuesday agenda...Beaty St Task Force, Fund Balance, Legislative Priorities, and Strategic Plan

The Davidson Board of Commissioners meets Tuesday  for its March regular meeting with another packed agenda.  Topics include...

  • Beaty Street Task Force - Commissioners are looking to form a task force with direct citizen input to determine the correct disposition of the Town's 19 acre Beaty Street property.  This critical step was skipped by the previous Board in favor of going directly to the development community with an RFP designed to get what Town Hall wanted rather than what the community wanted.
  • Fund Balance - Commissioners will here a presentation on the money in the Town's savings account known as its "find balance".  There is currently about $1.55 million in the account above the Town's self-imposed minimum threshold f 35% of its annual general fund budget.  An additional $925k is tied up as "assigned" to the new Town Hall public facilities project which is currently on-hold. (Some of this $925k has already been spend however, so the exact number ties up by this project is TBD.)
  • Legislative Priorities - Each year the Town provides a list of priorities it would like to see the State General Assembly pass.  This year's list includes many of the same items seen in the past and is mostly about supporting what the NC League of Municipalities wants to get done in Raleigh.
  • Strategic Plan -  Commissioners will discuss the updated Strategic Plan covering land use, economic development, historic preservation, affordable housing and other areas.  The changes highlighted in the draft document show subtle but significant changes towards these issues that should be welcome to citizens.
Check out the entire agenda here.  Download the Town's mobile app here.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Davidson Wildcats win A10 tournament, heading to the Big Dance

Update: From Davidson Sports Information Director Joey Beeler, the Davidson men’s basketball team is expected back on campus around 11:45 pm.

Led by the Senior/Freshman duo of Peyton Aldridge and Kellan Grady, the Davidson Wildcats beat the Rhode Island Rams 58-57 Sunday afternoon in Washington, DC to win the Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament.  In the process Davidson gets the conference automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.

Starting the season expected to finish in the middle of the A10 pack, the Wildcats entered the A10 tournament a 3 seed and beat the nationally ranked Rhode Island Rams for the second time in a 10 day span.  When the NCAA brackets are released later on Sunday, Davidson along with the Rams and most likely St Bonaventure will give the A10 a very respectable three teams to make the championship field.

This win gives Davidson's its first A10 Tournament Championship and second trip to the NCAA in the the past 4 seasons.

In an on court post game interview, Coach Bob McKillop said the team played with "joy" and had been playing that way for much of the 2nd half of the season.  This tournament win certainly brings a lot of joy to the Wildcat faithful and certainly ranks as one of the high points in program history

Check back for more info on when the A10 Champions should be rolling back into town.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Davidson Police seek help in accident that damaged Christian Aid Society Cemetary

Friday afternoon, aShortChronicle was made aware of an incident that occurred at the Christian Aid Society Cemetary off of Ridge Road.  Several grave markers were damaged in what appeared to be an incident involving a vehicle.  After inquiring with the Town, the Town of Davidson put out the below press release Friday even a little after 630pm.

DAVIDSON, N.C. – The Davidson Police Department seeks information in an ongoing investigation of an incident that transpired late on Wednesday, March 7. Here are the details:

  1.  At 11:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 7, Davidson Police Officer Better clocked a vehicle traveling east at 50 miles per hour (mph) along Griffith Street, a street with a speed limit of 25 mph. Officer Better attempted to pursue this vehicle as it went onto Beaty Street, but lost sight of the vehicle and per protocol, ceased his pursuit.
  2.  At 3:00 a.m. on Thursday, March 8, Davidson College Campus Police found a car matching the description of the vehicle seen by Officer Better damaged and abandoned on Ridge Road.
  3.  At 4:00 a.m., the Davidson College Campus Police found damage at the Christian Aid Society cemetery on Ridge Road.

“The Davidson Police Department is conducting an investigation into the owner and driver of the vehicle in this unfortunate incident,” said Davidson Police Chief Penny Dunn. “We believe the speeding driver Officer Better attempted to pursue drove from Beaty Street onto Ridge Road, lost control of his vehicle on the dark roadway and in the process, damaged several headstones at the Christian Aid Society cemetery. We appreciate the assistance of Davidson College Campus Police in this investigation.”

If you have any information related to the owner or driver of the vehicle in this incident, please email Davidson Police Detective Jay Stokes at<> or call 704-892-5131 (main police line) or 704-940-9633 (direct line).

Please Consider Assisting Christian Aid Society
The Christian Aid Society cemetery, located on Ridge Road, sustained damage during this incident, including the destruction of several headstones. If you would like to provide assistance in the form of volunteer hours or monetary contribution, please call Erving McClain, the president of the board of the Christian Aid Society, at 704-896-7729.