Churches work to give voice to East Huntersville
by Staff Writer
Last Saturday, Pastor Larry Daniel asked his parishioners, neighbors and friends to look to the future. The occasion was a back-to-school rally held at his church, St. Phillip Missionary Baptist Church. Daniel was nominally referring to the coming school year and much more.
The event was the first held by the East Huntersville Revitalization Organization, a coalition currently made up mainly of local pastors committed to improving the lives of residents in some of Huntersville’s oldest—and largely neglected—neighborhoods. The rally was a way of providing tangible help to east Huntersville’s children—more than 150 bags of school supplies were given away—but it was also about getting residents involved and making them aware of EHRO and its mission.
“Bribery’s a good way to get people through the doors,” joked Fred Lowrance, pastor of Meadowlake Church in Huntersville and the driving force behind EHRO.
Lowrance said he first reached out to Daniel and others in June, “and it all just came together. The goal, in general, is simply to improve the lives of people in east Huntersville.”
Currently, EHRO is primarily a partnership of churches, but that is expected to change soon. The organization has formed five task forces charged with developing plans to address the needs of children and families, economic development, infrastructure improvement, community center utilization and to gain input and influence with Town of Huntersville.
Town Commissioner Danny Phillips has been attending EHRO meetings and providing information to members. As these plans materialize, the group expects to form partnerships with local businesses, the Huntersville Police Department, officials in the town government, and charitable organizations.
“This is a community that really has had very little voice,” Lowrance said. He noted various repercussions of that: crumbling roads; no sidewalks; storm sewers that back up in heavy rain; and the fact that the Waymer Center, the only community center in the area, is open to residents only one night a week. The other six nights it is rented out to outside organizations.
The organization is holding a meeting Friday night at St. Phillip at which Daniel said he expects progress reports from the task forces, which he expects to result in an action plan to begin the process of outreach to build those partnerships. The meeting will also feature a presentation by Dan Morrill, consulting director of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historical Landmarks Commission, about the possibility and potential advantages of having Torrance-Lytle School declared a historical landmark.
Torrance-Lytle, which opened in 1937 as the Huntersville Colored School, “represented the first opportunity for African-American residents of North Mecklenburg County to attend a public high school in the region where they lived,” according to a 2003 report by the landmark commission that recommended the historical designation. The hope is that it can be restored to the point where it can be utilized as a community center.
While the goals of the EHRO are comprehensive, it’s no coincidence that its kick off event was a back-to-school rally. The organization’s reason for existing is to help create a stable and nurturing environment for east Huntersville’s residents, and in particular its children.
“This is all about our future,” Daniel said at the rally. “And our future is in out children.”
Want to get involved?
The East Huntersville Rivitalization Organization will meet at 6:30 p.m. Aug. 24 at St. Phillip Church, 524 Dellwood Drive, Huntersville. Community residents and interested parties are welcome to attend.