I have lived and operated a business here in North Mecklenburg for the past 25 years. From my perspective, the single most important issue we face that will impact our lives, businesses and community for the next 100 years is the Red Line Regional Rail project.

The N.C. Dept. of Transportation and its consultants tell us this project will create 22,000 new jobs and $5 billion in new development within close proximity of the commuter rail line, stretching 25 miles from Mooresville to Charlotte through Davidson, Cornelius and Huntersville.

It is safe to say no other single decision, since the decision to build the lake in the first place, will have a greater impact on our community than this one. This includes the construction of Interstate 77 more than 30 years ago.

In 1998 the citizens of our three northern towns voted for a half-cent sales tax to fund transit including a commuter rail line to be built and operated on the Norfolk Southern rail line that runs parallel to N.C. 115 through our three towns. We have been paying that sales tax ever since (14 years).

The Red Line proposal now being considered will be funded 25 percent by the state of North Carolina and 25 percent by the Charlotte Area Transit System for a total of $226 million. The Charlotte-Area Transit System’s contribution will come from the same sales tax we have been paying all these years.

If the Red Line is not built, these funds will go to other transit projects located within Charlotte and Mecklenburg County. The old cliché about “use it or lose it” has never been more appropriate. Property owners along the Red Line who stand to benefit most from its construction will pay the remaining 50 percent of the cost. The means to do so will be an innovative new value capture incremental tax upon new real estate development within close proximity of the Red Line. These property owners will vote to approve or reject this proposal later this year if given the opportunity to do so by our town governments. If the property owners vote to approve the transit benefit tax, everyone in the three northern towns will receive the benefits of the Red Line commuter train we have been paying for all these years.

Now is the time for us all to get on board and speak up in support of the Red Line. Let’s not allow the train to pass us by now that we are being offered 50 percent of its cost from the state of North Carolina and the city of Charlotte. Please let our elected town officials know you are in favor of the Red Line commuter train. Hopefully, we will all have the opportunity to ride it to and from downtown Charlotte in the years to come. Twenty-two thousand new jobs hang in the balance. Now is the time to speak up or forever hold your peace.

– Phil Gandy, Gandy Communities