Town-gown forum misses the mark

Chapel Hill Herald, Saturday April 23, 2005

It's not often that the mayor of Chapel Hill, the chancellor of UNC, a key UNC trustee, an outspoken councilman and several prominent residents address town-gown relations at a public event. That's just what happened last Thursday during the first panel of WCHL's "Building Bridges" community forum.

You might have expected the following to have been discussed: the pending rezoning of part of the Horace Williams property, the also pending modifications to the OI-4 zone of the main campus, the town's stellar job hosting the celebration of UNC's men's basketball championship and the mysterious delay in the agreed-upon improvements to South Columbia Street, a delay that panelist Bill Strom recently laid squarely at the feet of the university.

But if you expected the forum to have much to do with what's actually going on, you were surely disappointed.

None of the above was even mentioned. Instead, much of the discussion focused on what we in the computer field call "vaporware" (i.e., highly anticipated products that never make it to the market). In this case, the vapor surrounds the latest iteration of the uncertain plan called Carolina North.

Even The Chapel Hill Herald's knowledgeable reporter Ray Gronberg tended to overlook current events in favor of reflecting on the positions of former town Councilwoman Joyce Brown or on Cam Hill's "nostalgia for old Chapel Hill."

Forum moderator Jim Heavner sought to portray a conflict between "maintaining community character" and having a "world-class university" and described community leaders as suspiciously "watching" the university.

Transportation board member Laurin Easthom rose to the occasion to explain to Heavner how one might wish to monitor development without necessarily being suspicious or distrustful of the developer. But Easthom was, if anything, too nice. UNC's track record is one that warrants a healthy skepticism.

The "did he say that with a straight face" moment came when James Moeser talked about the problem of university employees being priced out of the Chapel Hill housing market. It was no small irony that the UNC honcho appearing alongside Moeser was an individual who arguably has made the greatest contribution to the outlandish cost of Chapel Hill homes: real estate tycoon and UNC trustee Roger Perry.

The thousand or so homes envisioned for Carolina North are now doing double duty. Thursday, Moeser implied that they will serve current university employees who live out of town. In that past we've been told that they would provide for a "living and learning community" at Carolina North. In either case, they won't make more than a dent in the university-generated need for affordable housing.

UNC-lover and "anti-university" council-member Cam Hill phoned in to challenge UNC to pull undergraduates out of housing in town and provide for them on campus. Hill maintained that this would lower housing prices, decrease traffic and be good for students.

Moeser ignored Hill's point and instead talked about the campus housing now being built to meet the goal of "a bed for every new head." While this policy is an improvement over past practices, it does nothing to bring the thousands of students already in the community back onto campus as Hill was suggesting.

A big disappointment for anyone hoping that UNC leaders might display some skill at listening comprehension was Perry's repeated insistence that the "only issues with substantive disagreements are transportation issues."

Surely Perry recalls Diana Steele's numerous appearances before the Town Council. Steele, a Mason Farm Road resident, has bemoaned the university's destruction of her neighborhood, little of which has involved transportation.

The list of concerns is well known, and Perry should be familiar with it: light, noise, safety, buffers, runoff, natural preservation and neighborhood integrity come readily to mind.

Councilman Bill Strom was perhaps the best prepared of the lot. He opened with the compelling statistic that the prevailing Carolina North plan is the equivalent of six Streets at Southpoint plunked down in the middle of Chapel Hill.

Strom went to bat for the transportation master plan that he has championed on the council. He pointed out that "Carolina North will have a radically different design when you focus on air quality and transit." Strom's point is a no-brainer, but one that UNC leaders have stubbornly resisted.

Surprisingly for the day before Earth Day, Strom was the only panelist to make reference to the Carolina Environmental Program's Carbon Reduction Project, an undertaking whose results could lead to vast improvements and significantly reshape the Carolina North vaporplan.

CEP's Carbon Reduction Project is a truly world-class undertaking, one that unites town and gown. How odd that smack in the middle of Earth Week, university leaders would let it go unmentioned.

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Total votes: 203

Comments

Once again WCHL provides an unique community service, thank you Ron.

I generally get my blathers out here but there were a few comments made during the forum that call for a little context and possible repudiation - it's good to know there's an opportunity to provide that clarification.

WillR (and anyone else who wants to know) you are always welcome to record a commentary rebutting anything you hear on the air, or commenting on it for further discussion. If I say something in the morning that offends you in some way, you are invited (and encouraged) to prepare a 90-second commentary on why my remarks were offensive....at the same time, if there's something you hear in one of our replays of WCHL's Chapel Hill-Carrboro-Orange County Forum, even if it's a matter of a UNC official dodging a legitimate question, you are welcome to address that on the air. Just consider it sort of an audio version of a letter to the editor. We're always looking for local commentaries from local people on local issues. Sometimes there are angles that we don't think of, when it comes to community issues, and that's why I welcome the input from you and other participants at orangepolitics.org becuase you are very politically aware and may approach things in a far different way.

The state does kick in some money for fire service. They claim that campus police police campus. There is also some talk about UNC paying for some of the costs of the NCAA after game party on Franklin street.

The problem is that the state gets to only pay what they "feel" they owe. The conflict of interest is huge. Consider my case. My house hasn't cought fire, the police haven't come over, and I don't have any kids. If it was up to me I could claim that I owe nothing for fire, police or schools. The city doesn't give me that choice. The state does have that choice and we are stuck with the whim of our fine friends on Jones St to do right by us.

I think so many of UNC's contributions to our local community are difficult to measure and the interpenetration between Town-n-Gown is so complete that trying to tote up winners and losers is somewhat of a foolish game. How much value does my left arm have above that of my right foot? How many Coker Arboretums equal how many Homestead soccer fields? What's better, six annual Apple Chill's or one NCAA celebration? I won't even try to balance the incommensurates.

That said, there are measureable costs to hosting UNC, costs that are generally borne by both the short-term and long-term residents of Chapel Hill, costs borne moreso by property owners.

Then, why do I continue to be surprised that in all the recent Town-n-Gown discussions no one mentions Chapel Hillians, besides supporting services directly via these local property taxes, also send a large chunk of change to the State. Much of that revenue funnels back to UNC-Chapel Hill.

How much? To foolishly continue, for instance, with the biennial 2003-2005 UNC-Academic budget :

16020 UNC-CH ACADEMIC AFFAIRS

PURPOSE DESCRIPTION 2003-04 2004-05

REQUIREMENTS

0101 INSTRUCTION 153,437,829 153,437,829
0102 SUMMER TERM INSTRUCTION 4,945,395 4,945,395
0103 NONCREDIT AND RECEIPTS 11,032,821 11,032,821
0105 SCHOOL OF GOVERNMENT 9,188,829 9,188,829
0110 ORGANIZED RESEARCH 4,447,149 4,447,149
0142 COMMUNITY SERVICES 2,446,829 2,446,829
0151 LIBRARIES 21,044,613 21,044,613
0187 ACADEMIC/STUDENT SUPPORT 36,734,468 36,734,468
0188 ADMINISTRATIVE SUPPORT 72,096,702 75,174,745
0230 STUDENT FINANCIAL AID 15,763,013 15,763,013
0259 reserve-reductions 7,639,395- 8,979,900-
__________________ __________________
TOTAL 323,498,253 325,235,791

and the the biennial 2003-2005 UNC Health Affairs budget

16021 UNC-CH HEALTH AFFAIRS

PURPOSE DESCRIPTION 2003-04 2004-05

REQUIREMENTS

0101 INSTRUCTION 150,253,885 150,253,885
0110 ORGANIZED RESEARCH 5,021,145 5,021,145
0151 LIBRARIES 4,059,893 4,059,893
0188 ADMINISTRATIVE SUPPORT 32,306,878 35,230,923
0259 reserve-reductions 5,288,195- 5,581,172-
__________________ __________________
TOTAL 186,353,606 188,984,674

ESTIMATED RECEIPTS

PURPOSE DESCRIPTION 2003-04 2004-05
0101 INSTRUCTION 12,177,294 12,177,294
0110 ORGANIZED RESEARCH 336,492 336,492
0151 LIBRARIES 213,510 213,510
0188 ADMINISTRATIVE SUPPORT 9,700 15,900

and the biennial 2003-2005 Area Health Education budget

16022 UNC-CH AREA HEALTH EDUCATION

PURPOSE DESCRIPTION 2003-04 2004-05

REQUIREMENTS

0191 OPERATIONS 32,688,577 32,688,577
0192 RESIDENCY TRAINING 4,886,250 4,886,250
0193 HEALTH SCIENCES SUPPORT 7,408,388 7,408,388
0259 reserve-reductions 1,021,449- 1,051,697-
__________________ __________________
TOTAL 43,961,766 43,931,518

ESTIMATED RECEIPTS

PURPOSE DESCRIPTION 2003-04 2004-05
__________________ __________________
TOTAL 0 0
__________________ __________________
NET APPROPRIATIONS 43,961,766 43,931,518

there's been, roughly, $1.2 billion spent on UNC over a two-year period.

Considering the enrollment of 26,400, the Academic budget alone works out to about $12K per student per year.

Now, luckily, some of the money spent ends up flowing back into the greater Chapel Hill economy. I've seen various figures, some wildly distorted, over the last 5 years of what percentage of that ends up in local pockets. I won't go into it now and it's easy enough to find the range if you're so inclined.

I'll point out, though, that these figures don't reflect the recent $165 million in actual expenditures or $250 million in current commitments of the Higher Education bond monies being spent on well-heeled out-of-town contractors for UNC-Chapel Hill projects alone, indicative of an even greater level of State citizen monetary support than most boosters seem to acknowledge.

Imagine how much of the revenue required to pay for all of this comes from our local community.

Now, how many dogs does Chapel Hill have in the hunt? Two? Three? Doesn't that mean we should be even more vigilent than other North Carolinians?

There's something I don't understand about town-gown relationships, specifically a large new project like CN. Since the state doesn't pay taxes, how do they expect the town to pay for the additional police, fire, and other governmental services that will be needed for the residential and business functions planned for CN? Given the town's current tax crunch, it seems highly unlikely that the town will be able to employ additional personnel in the various departments that support non-instructional services to the university. Is there another funding mechanism besides taxes or is the town just supposed to absorb these costs?

Ron, will WCHL solicit further editorial comment on the these segments - kind of a reprise of the Commentators?

Well, Fred, you certainly have an interesting notion of government. Unfortunately, the most prominent person to, like you, assert that he knew the opinions of a silent majority was Richard Nixon. In his case it was an attribute of a paranoid scofflaw who resigned from office in disgrace.

Exactly, what are you suggesting about Chapel Hill? Were 4000 Terri Tyson supporters too busy showing their patriotism by shopping to trouble themselves to vote?

But, while you make vague generalities, singling out Strom despite the fact that the entire council was in agreement with him Monday night, I would prefer to look at particulars.

During the negotiation for the OI-4 zone, Strom was steadfast on the environmental components. His insistence on no change in the rate, quality and volume of storm water were criticized by UNC Leaders as unreasonable and unattainable goals. Today, we hear Jon Howes bragging over the environmental commitments UNC made in its master plan.

Chiller Plant – much the same. All of the significant improvements which proved enough to gain council support for the chiller were championed by Strom. Additional ingress-egress, larger setbacks, cemetery improvements, off site road/sidewalk improvements, shorter operating hours for some gates, fewer parking spaces, and more stringent noise control, to name a few. Each and every step of the way UNC came along kicking. The kind of don't rock the boat public officials that Fred seems to prefer could not have achieved so much. Don't forget that the chiller plant negotiations only occurred because of an initial 4-4 council deadlock. Imagine the outcome on a similar matter if Fred Black/CAN had succeeded in adding Bachman and Tyson to the council (the voters imagined it and we know the results).

Now that UNC has backed away from its commitment to deliver Columbia Street improvements which were promised by Roger Perry, Stick Williams and James Moeser – Fred is using Strom's public disappointment at UNC's broken promise as an example of uncivil behavior, the sort that he is sure is the motivating concern for his silent majority. An odd worldview here: breaking commitments is considered civil but commenting on it is not.

Strom ran for re-election calling for a transportation master plan to be developed before any worthwhile analysis of any Horace Williams project could be undertaken by the town. Again – cries of delay and incivility were heard. UNC last year called this is a “stiff-arm”. Yet today – a transportation master plan is officially embraced by UNC and Chapel Hill.

Strom also urged the council to form a Horace Williams Citizens Committee (which UNC considered an unnecessary insult). Now, even Moeser has begun to use the HWCC report as a point of reference in his discussion of Carolina North (see his recent letter to Foy et al on the rezoning question).

The point Fred and I agree on is that Chapel Hillians want town-gown relations worked out in a positive way. Bill Strom is the best thing that's happened for those relations in the twenty years I've been observing Chapel Hill politics. And yes, Fred, the citizens who care enough to inform themselves on the issues and vote agree with that assessment, and overwhelmingly so.

Don't forget that your man, Jim Ward, lost votes from 1999 to 2003, dropping from first place to fourth while Strom increased his total by over 1100 votes.

The Fred Black approach is designed to weaken Chapel Hill's position in town-gown negotiations. He might as well have an office in South Building.

Gosh, I guess that we sometimes have different perceptions for good reasons. A review of many of the letters to the editor in response to some of your work seems to indicate that I am not the only one who thinks the way that I do.

You are very wrong if you think anyone in my military career ever taught me about defeat; you've selected a very, very poor analogy. And you are even more wrong if you think my comments had anything to do with candidates that I supported loosing a prior election. Nor are my comments about slinging barbs at a winner. As one of the nine members of the Council who represent ALL of us, I found it interesting that while the Mayor and others are trying to make progress on the town-gown issue, one member was vocally pursuing an apparent strategy that seems to move in the opposite direction. You obviously agree with his approach, and that's your right.

Finally, don't be so sure to conclude what 4,590 votes really tell us about what Chapel Hillians really think. We just don't know since so many don't vote. But sometimes, something motivates the prior non-participants to come out and vote and we get to hear their voice. I believe that the majority of our citizens want to see the towns and UNC work out all of the issues that they face in a positive way. Otherwise, we will all loose in the end.

WCHL's recent Chapel Hill-Carrboro-Orange County Forum has generated a lot of discussion in the community, which is, of course, exactly what it was designed to do. Many have asked when they might be able to hear replays of specific hours, and here is a quick synopsis of our replay schedule. All hours of the show will be re-run, one hour at a time, so you can hear them just as they aired the first time. All segments can be heard in the 7 pm hour, and repeated in the 11 pm hour. And thank you for listening to News Talk 1360 WCHL.

Wed, May 4th Town-Gown part one
Thur, May 5th Town-Gown part two
Thur, May 12th Suburban Growth
Fri, May 13th Civil Rights
Wed, May 18th Carrboro

Wed, June 1st Downtown Chapel Hill
Thur, June 2nd Violence and Crime
Fri, June 3rd Affordable Housing
Wed, June 8th Education
Thur, June 9th Young People
Friday, June 10th Town-Gown part one
Wed, June 15th Town-Gown part two
Thur, June 16th Suburban Growth
Fri, June 17th Civil Rights
Wed, June 22nd Carrboro
Thur, June 23rd Downtown Chapel Hill
Fri, June 24th Violence and Crime
Wed, June 29th Affordable Housing
Thu, June 30th Education

Wed, July 6th Young People
Thur, July 7th Town-Gown part one
Fri, July 8th Town-Gown part two
Wed, July 13th Suburban Growth
Thur, July 14th Civil Rights
Fri, July 15th Carrboro
Wed, July 20th Downtown Chapel Hill
Thur, July 21st Violence and Crime
Fri, July 22nd Affordable Housing
Wed, July 27th Education
Thur, July 28th Young People

For more details, listen to News Talk 1360 WCHL.

To Fred Black:

Taking your concerns seriously, I have reviewed my columns since the first of the year. Of 16 columns, I would consider 5 to have a primarily critical thrust to them. I know you are a delicate soul and what I consider critical, you may view as an “attack” but the fact is that part of my job as a columnist is to provide critical perspectives on public affairs.

In addition, it seems that you are a bit sensitive on the topic of Bill Strom. This leads you to exaggerate his presence in my columns. Of those 16 columns, four mention Strom. In one, on gay rights, he is one of eleven citizens who are quoted approvingly. In another, on the state of the economy, he is mentioned only in passing along with several other former Economic Development Commission members.

I do praise Strom twice. Once for his key role in the preservation of the Erwin Trace property, a contribution that will be appreciated for many generations. The other was for his leadership on town-gown affairs (above) which has been stellar.

I understand that you do not agree with what Strom has represented and accomplished on the Council. This was clearly shown by your opposition to his reelection and your support via CAN for the compromised Dianne Bachman and for the ardently conservative Terri Tyson. I'm sure the latter has since done CAN proud with her advocacy of recruiting more billionaires to live in Chapel Hill.

That Chapel Hillians agree with Strom's approach and reject your own was shown overwhelmingly in the 2003 election.

I'm surprised that, with your military background, you are unable to accept defeat more gracefully. Over the years, I've supported many losing candidates, though not many lately. I have always found it more productive to try to learn from such losses than to sling barbs at the winners.

Terri, I agree that they could be in a pickle if the HWCC report had specific, measureable guidelines ( %20 impermeable surface, .05 candles per square foot illuminated, %0,05 hydrocarbons per unit litre of runoff, 350 foot forest boundary zones, etc.) but it doesn't (no matter how much some people wish it did).

Instead, there's a number of guiding principles and goals, some, I think, rather vague, some rather pointed. Chancellor Moeser could take the old red-tipped pen out and start grading the report against the internal goals UNC has set for UNC/North. Of course, I'm assuming they do have some specific goals, which might be incorrect assumption.

Now, for instance, they have a stated, general, goal of increasing biomedical research to encourage economic growth. Great, can that goal me measured against any of the precepts and goals of the HWCC report? Some interpolation might be required, and Chancellor Moeser could ask for clarification. Do the HWCC report precepts preclude a Class 4 bio-containment faciltiy being built at UNC/North, I hope they do, but he's free to ask.

The problem now is we're working in a knowledge vacuum, a vacuum, I think that could be filled somewhat easily by UNC opening up its internal communications on the project and responding, point by point, to the HWCC report. I'm speculating that if that was done, the current state of planning would be more motivated by "campus envy" than by sound public policy, but that's speculation. Prove me wrong UNC, show me the goods, that's what, as a citizen of the local community, the state and a big fan of UNC, want.

Sure, I remember a local candidate question ing the need of even building UNC/North several years ago. Beyond some rather airy assertions, are we sure that Moeser even knows?

That aside, I think the Town and the HWCC, in the spirit of glasnost and perostroik, would be willing to accept the marked up document and move forward.

I don't like the CN project either Will, but I still think that if the Town wants an official response from the University on the HWC report, then the Mayor needs to ask for an official response. But think about this for a second--what would they respond to and how valuable would the response be? I have a feeling you and most everyone else in town (including me) wants Moesser to say 'the university endorses the basic principles put forth in this report and we agree to abide by those principles as we move forward.' In the absence of that response, what else can they say that wouldn't just open them up to more criticism? If their response isn't binding on their actions, then what would be the value of a response?

As I understand this situation, the Town wants to know what the university plans to do. The university can't give plans because they don't know what to do with the airport and they don't know what the council is going to do about zoning. If they move forward with plans and the council doesn't like those plans, then they can change the zoning and the university would have wasted the funds spent on developing the plan. Double bind situation?

I'm not trying to let the university off the hook, but I do think it's instructive to put yourself in their shoes. Higher education in this state and around the country is in big trouble financially. With federal and state cutbacks and with private institutions taking a larger and larger piece of the financial aid pie, public HE administrators are having to find new ways of supporting their institutions and still remain true to the concept of public education. I think that's what UNC is trying to do with CN--create a research park that can fund instruction. They no longer have the option of not changing. I don't like the solution they have selected, but I do understand their predicament and also understand that if they don't find new funding routes, then the repercussions will not be any more acceptable than CN.

Did UNC commission the Horace Williams Committee and it's report? If not, it seems like it would be politically presumptuous of them to make a public response unless specifically requested to do so by the Mayor...just as the town council wouldn't take it upon themselves to make an official comment on university plans/reports without a direct request.

Terri, I know I'm just a lowly citizen of Chapel Hill and a beleaguered North Carolina taxpayer, so I guess it's somewhat presumptuous for me to call upon a public servant, Chancellor Moeser, to explain why, internally, they agree that the HWCC report has some salient points, but publicly they're unwilling to respond in detail.

Of course, I believe Chancellor Moeser does answer to the citizens of North Carolina and he has a responsibility to act as a trusted agent of the people. Transparency engenders trust. I believe the HWCC report provides an excellent framework for a discussion of development at UNC/North. It would be an almost trivial exercise to step through the various goals and precepts and redline those he and the BOT agree with, but Chancellor Moeser's coyness seems to belie my belief - based on his continued actions ("Esse Quam Videri") he must think the HWCC report an insufficient framework to propel his plans forward.

As a taxpayer and citizen, I don't want another Centennial Campus boondoggle, no matter how much "campus envy" UNC has of NCSU. In the absence of any contravailing proposed framework from UNC, we're left with the HWCC report. So, circularly, someone is left to ask, what, specifically, does UNC like about the report and what does it not.

I asked, he didn't answer.

Terri, who do you think has standing to ask Chancellor Moeser to stop "dancing" about and respond, authoritatively, in detail, to the concerns of community?

Fred, when I asked Ch. Moeser "could UNC tell us what parts, specifically, of the HWCC report UNC agreed with and what UNC didn't agree with", a question that couldn't be more clearly stated, he resorted to obfuscatory language instead of taking the opportunity to explain UNC's upper-management's and BOT's issues with the report,

The Moeser led administration could easily markup the report and return it to the Town and the HWCC - redlining the whole report as their want - if for no other reason than common, decent courtesy. How about acknowledging the efforts of local citizens to build a common consensus on UNC/North and return the courtesy by publishing the UNC review of the report?

They don't need a "plan" to comment on the elements.

Maybe they want to strike Principle 2:

Development on the Horace Williams property shall benefit the
University, the towns of Chapel Hill and Carrboro, Orange County, and the
surrounding areas, as well as the state of North Carolina. The planning and
execution of Carolina North shall be a model of cooperation for the mutual benefit
of all stakeholders.

or they don't agree with Assumption 1:

The University shall have a remediation plan and a funding
mechanism in place so that remediation of all the waste sites, including the Chemical
Waste Landfill, Sanitary Landfill, and Estes Drive Extension Landfill, will be
addressed promptly and adequately.

or they think Goal 2B is total buffoonery

Create a built environment with a sense of place and a feeling of permanence.

To characterize the HWCC as some kind of competing "plan" is disingenuous.
The report doesn't specify numbers of buildings, acreage of parking lots, numbers of classrooms, to indicate otherwise is
shear misdirection.

Just let us know UNC, stop all the misdirection.

Good point Mary. The nerghbors went out Airport Rd., built houses nest to the airport, and then spent decades singing the blues about all the noise from airplanes. Well now UNC is going to close the airport and do something else with the land. Sure, I think the plan is stupid. I do get a big laugh when I see a bunch of activists getting thier britches in a bundle after they find out that getting what they asked for isn't what they wanted. "Thrill is gone. Thrill is gone away from me..." So we'll go from sining B.B. King to Buddy Guy? Fine with me. I like the blues.

In the weekly Saturday column when you can almost certainly expect for someone and/or something to be attacked and Bill Strom praised for whatever, I guess that I'm really struck with what is valued and offered as good.

What does it do to enhance a “Town-Gown” relationship when a Town Council member calls, in effect, the UNC leadership liars? Surly this is not part of Chapel Hill values, is it?

What is the desired goal of claiming that the prevailing Carolina North plan is the equivalent of six Streets at South Point plunked down in the middle of Chapel Hill? Surly, this provocative and provoking image is not put out there to help move the civil discourse along.

Are we aware of the “prevailing Carolina North plan? It is interesting that the University even has a “prevailing plan” when there is so much uncertainty over the future of the Horace Williams Airport and even the zoning that the property will have.

It seems to me that there is little maneuver room between one being part of the problem or part of the solution.

What confuses me most about politics in this town is the disconnect between the progressive agenda of higher density, infill, and affordable housing on the one hand, and then complaints about accompanying light, noise, and neighborhood integrity, on the other. If we want affordable housing within the urban boundary, we have to build these houses somewhere. If we want local/regional rail/trolley, the tracks will have to be near someone's neighborhood. Yes, we have to grow in an environmentally sensitive way, but I really get annoyed when progressives sound like what they want most is to protect their own neighborhoods from changes that are for the higher good. If the conflict between citizens and UNC is really just about making sure that we do things right the first time, that's great, but if the resistance is ultimately about people with money and power making sure that their neighborhoods aren't affected by inevitable change, then this community has a serious credibility problem.

"Prevailing" means what? Your paper wrote on Feb 6, 2005:

New Carolina North design still pending
Airport issues keeping UNC from unveiling next version

BY ROB SHAPARD rshapard@heraldsun.com; 918-1050
Chapel Hill Herald
Sunday February 06, 2005
Final Edition
Front Section
Page 1

CHAPEL HILL -- It's not clear when UNC will unveil the next version of plans for the research campus it hopes to build on the Horace Williams tract off Airport Road, a senior university official says.

Vice Chancellor Tony Waldrop led the effort last winter and spring to present the last version of plans for the Carolina North campus. He and UNC planners and consultants then went back to work on revising the plans, and Waldrop said last year he hoped to go to the UNC Board of Trustees some time in 2004 with updated plans.

But the university has run into an obstacle in the form of the Horace Williams Airport. The airport sits on the portion of the 963-acre property that UNC hopes to develop, but the word from state legislators has been that the university needs to find a new place to base the medical flights run by AHEC, the N.C. Area Health Education Centers, before closing the airport.

"I think that's impossible to predict," Waldrop said, asked when UNC might take another Carolina North plan to the trustees, and eventually the Town Council. "There are so many issues that have to be resolved, in particular with the airport."

Will, I don't know about plans for bio-containment but you might check out the hazardous waste bunker just south of Estes, a lot closer to your back yard. That facility, built under the OI-3 zone, is just one of the many examples of why the Town Council did the right thing last night in removing the OI-3 zone from the Horace Williams property.

Those unaware of the prevailing Carolina North plan might look here.

I see we now have a Community Leadership Council to help us sort through our growth problems. Does anyone have the list of invitees to the 'shadow government', 'seance', 'power-broker powwow' ? (Such provocative NANDO imagery!) Did Strom and Black make the cut?

Mary, what are you talking about? I can't seem to get to any content on the N&O website, so a blurb or something would be helpful.

Tried to do a link yesterday, but NANDO on-line requires a password (even for the current day edition). There's a less provocative short version of story in CHN today (story is not online). Basically, the Community Leadership Council takes up where the old Public Private Partnership left off. Several people are quoted. They say things such as, "I agree there may be a unity here that doesn't exist in the larger community . But that's the point.", "I'm not interested in another report on lofty goals. I think a leadership group is one that makes things happen, and I hope that's what we do." The Community Leadership Council says it is trying to avoid perceptions of it being an unelected shadow government by pledging to be more open to the public than the PPP. Here's the HS version: http://www.heraldsun.com/orange/10-602586.html

It's interesting that to really make your point in criticizing a person, a useful technique is to compare them to a discredited politician. Nixon comparisons to the contrary, I stand by my comment: "I believe that the majority of our citizens want to see the towns and UNC work out all of the issues that they face in a positive way. Otherwise, we will all loose in the end." Since Dan Coleman says that he agrees with this, I don't get the Nixon reference.

I also stand by my other point: it is not productive in this relationship to call UNC leaders liars or use imagery that is only designed to inflame. Others are free to hold contrary opinions, but I will stick with mine. It is heartening to note that others on the Council don't seem to follow this line of discourse, and our Mayoy has made it clear that he wants progress through cooperation by both parties.

And if me seeking civility weekens Chapel Hill's position in town-gown negotiations, we have bigger problems than most realize.

Civility as polite capitulation is hardly a virtue.

Thank you for the opportunity to share a litle information about the new Community Leadership Council (CLC).

In Spring 2004, the 21 member Council on a Sustainable Community (CSC), chaired by Howard Lee, issues its report (http://www.sustainablecommunity.info) and recomended the creation of a leadership organization to advance the tripple bottom line of environmental, social and economic sustainability and to build relationships needed to address community issues and challenges. In late 2004, the Chamber incorporated the Foundation for a sustainable Community as a new organization to corry forward the recomendations of that 21-page report.

To advise the Foundatoin and to fill a community gap lest with the fading of the once successfull Public Private Partnership (PPP), the Foundation for a Sustainable Community and the Chamber have partnered to form the Community Leadership Council.

The mission of the Community Leadership Council (CLC) is to convene business, university, civic and community leaders to:
1. Discuss and address current cross-cutting community issues and anticipate future needs, trends and challenges;
2. Plan and implement inter-city visits to learn how other communities are addressing similar challenges while building relationships among our community leaders;
3. Focus the community on sustainability through the continued implementation of the Council on a Sustainability 2004 Report on social, environmental and economic sustainability;
4. Advise the Foundation for a Sustainable Community on areas and activities for it to focus on; and
5. Help generate funds to support the Council's activities.

Here is a list of the members of the CLC
SUSAN ANDERSON, Chair, Inter-Faith Council
DELORES BAILEY, Executive Director, EmPOWERment, Inc.
FRED BLACK, Consultant and Community Volunteer
MOSES CAREY, Chair, Orange County Board of Commissioners
JAMES CARNAHAN, Chair, The Village Project
CRAIG CHANCELLOR, President, Triangle United Way
ROBERT DOWLING, Executive Director, Orange Community Housing and Land Trust
RICK EDENS, Co-Pastor, United Church of Chapel Hill
MARIANA FIORENTINO, President, Terra Nova Global Properties
CHARLIE FISHER, Chair, Foundation for a Sustainable Community
KEVIN FOY, Mayor, Town of Chapel Hill
SCOTT GARDNER, Local Government Relations Manager, Duke Power
BOB GRECZYN, President and CEO, Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina
JIM HEAVNER, President, VilCom
JONATHAN HOWES, Special Assistant to the Chancellor, UNC Chapel Hill
WINKIE LAFORCE, Executive Director, Leadership Triangle and Chair of El Centro Latino
HOWARD LEE, Chair, North Carolina Board of Education
SCOTT MAITLAND, Proprietor, Top of the Hill Restaurant and Brewery
JAMES MOESER, Chancellor UNC Chapel Hill
AARON NELSON, Executive Director, Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce
DIANA MCDUFFEE, Mayor Pro Temp, Town of Carrboro
GARY PARK, President, UNC Hospitals
BERNADETTE PELISSIER, Chair, Orange/Chatham Sierra Club
ROGER PERRY, President, East West Partners
RUFFIN SLATER, General Manager, Weaver Street Market
LISA STUCKEY, Chair, Chapel Hill-Carrboro School Board
JUDITH WEGNER, Chair, UNC Faculty Council
JON WILNER, Executive Director, The ArtsCenter

If you have additional questions, please feel free to contact me 967-7075 or anelson@carolinachamber.org

The CLC roster seems to show that the environmental leg of the stool - while admirably represented as far as it goes - is certainly the shortest leg of the stool by far.

Thanks Aaron. Is there a transportation expert on the panel?

The environmental leg just as short as the elected official leg, Mark. It's a powerful collection of people, but there do seem to be a quite a few gaps. Mary points out an important one as well.

If it's truly supposed to help forge some compromises on "town-gown" issues, then it will need more credibility with people who are skeptical of the University. I would suggest either more people who have been critical of the University, or people who have been more critical of the University, ie: a few moderates or just one or two strong advocates.

How about some more local alderpeople, town council members, or municipal advisory board members?

Also, exactly how & by whom does such a panel get chosen?

Thanks for all your good questions. Between phone calls and meetings I am writing out a longer response. It will be posted shortly.

Aaron

Thank you Mark, Mary and Ruby for your comments and suggestions. We intend the work of this group to be transparent to the public and will invite the press to each of its meetings.

Sorry in advance for the long post. I am not an experienced blogger as evidenced by my lack of spell check in the last post.

Let me first talk about how we selected the participants.

As you can imagine, pulling a group like this together is difficult and eventually we became constricted by a total number of participants. We thought 30 folks was about the most you could get to meet in any local physical space at one time.

It will be easy to pick at this group as we have surely left some interest off of the Council, but we tried our best to find folks that represent many interests including the “official ones listed before” – Bios on each of the folks is available to anyone that would like me to email it and we will post it soon on our website soon. We did our best and are proud of the results.

Our objective was to get the leaders of organizations – Chairs of Boards, CEOs or Executive Directors. We wanted folks with the authority to speak for their organizations so progress could be made at the table. We then focused on four main areas from which to draw our membership – local non-profit directors and board chairs, local governments, business leadership and the University. These are not represented equally in the group of 28.

There are 4 government officials representing the 4 southern Orange elected governments. We wanted all Mayors/Chairs but Mike Nelson was not able to serve.

There are 4 from the University community - 2 from UNC Chapel Hill, 1 from UNC Hospitals and the chair of the faculty (who is not there to represent the interests of the University).

There are 12 non-profit executives or board chairs.

There are 7 business CEOs and managers including Roger Perry who is also a Trustee and Ruffin Slater of Weaver Street Market (a non-profit)

We arrived at this group through conversations with elected officials, members of the Council on a Sustainable Community, former PPP board members and the leadership of our Foundation that is coordinating the effort.

I called and invited folks personally, asking often if there are other CEO/Chair/Execs that ought to be included. Through this process our group grew from 22 to 28 and may grow again slightly by adding a representative from Chatham and Durham. If you have suggestions about a Chatham rep it would be welcome.

More to come after my little Max's swim class.

Mark--The university has been an environmental leader in the community and among other college campuses over the last several years. Both towns and the county have also been environmentally proactive. By rights, that should translate into their leadership being considered as part of the 'environmental leg' of the CLC. The shift from outspoken and external environmentalists to integrated, everyday practice environmentalists has been the subject of much national debate over the past couple of years (search on is environmentalism dead to read more).

Aaron--rather than second guessing your appointment process, I will just recommend that since the WCHL forum discussion targeted transportation as one of the major community issues, there should be someone with expertise in that subject on the committee. I have found Patrick McDonough's posts on this forum to be instructive, progressive and practical.

Terri,

You are right. Those folks are indeed making fine environmental contributions.

It depends upon where you fix your gaze. People like Joyce Brown, Allen Spalt, Dan Coleman, Marty Mandel (and many others) were promoting visionary environmental policy long before UNC adopted its laudable green practices and long before the CoC issued its Sustainability Report. Their activism and leadership led to the adoption of environmental practices by these basically mainstream organizations. We need to recognize that the foundation for our current sustainability initiatives was built by people who were often deemed byond the pale by the very organizations that have now adopted some of their suggestions.

We would be wise to acknowledge this pattern and learn from this and appreciate the visionaries in our midst right now because the odds are good that their ideas will be adopted by the mainstream in years to come.

 

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