September 2004

You Gotta Have Faith

Last week I rounded the corner of McCauley and Merrit Mill as I have a million times before. But this time my mouth gaped open in suprise. It wasn't just the radical clearcut of what used to be Cam Hill's funky little nest. I think it was the crane that seemed to be hungrily eating the last bit of the structure left on the property. Even though I knew it was coming for at least a year, I was shocked to see this acre of mud replace what was once an attractive corner of town. It's all the more tragic because I know what's coming: a parking lot.

I strongly suggest that you take a drive by that corner now and see what's there. This is an object lesson in town-gown relations for two reasons:

1. It demonstrates University priorities. They pressured local homeowners until they gave up their property, then UNC demolished this block of modest homes and nice shade trees to lay out a slab of concrete for parking. Houses like these on the west end of Cameron Street are exactly what the town needs more of to meet the needs of the increasing number of students and young families joining our community.

Raise A Glass on Franklin Street

On tonight's Chapel Hill Town Council agenda, Mayor Pro Tem Edith Wiggins will have the opportunity to undo the action she took in July to singlehandedly stop local restaurants from serving alcohol to customers dining on the sidewalk. The Daily Tarheel points out the cost of this misstep to local restaurateurs, I would just add that there is a cost in the goodwill of downtown merchants and consumers as well. Since she has not raised an actual objection to the idea then or now, many feel confident it will pass unanimously this evening.

But I have to wonder why Wiggins is blocking proposals that she claims to support. Does she have other objections that she doesn't care to state publicly or is she just flexing her Pro Tem muscle?

Memo to the Chapel Hill Town Council

Your new microphones have MUTE buttons on them. They also make a very unpleasant amplified noise when you swing them back and forth from your mouth. If you use one, you won't have to do the other. Those of us playing along at home thank you.

Local Vigil for Iraq Victims

Guest Post by Jacquie Gist

For those who may not know, MoveOn is sponsoring vigils nationwide tonight to mark the 1,000th American military death in this dirty war. Actually if you count civilian contractors, which the White House does not, the 1,000th death occured weeks ago. The vigil for our community will be at the Franklin St Post Office at 8pm today. Since we will be joining with thousands of vigils around the country it really does matter if folks show up. For more information, visit .

Jacquie is a member of the Carrboro Board of Aldermen.

[We apologize for a technical problem which delayed the posting of this time-sensitive item. -Ed.]

Save RDU

Guest Post by Jeff Vanke

Orange County relies on RDU Airport, although only Durham and Wake County citizens have a say in its operations. The Airport Authority, including more than one construction magnate, is planning to knock down Terminal C and rebuild it. The cost is $350 million, to be paid in increased parking fees. Demolition is slated to begin around December. The situation is urgent.

Justifications range from the need for expansion, to a desire to enhance passenger flow. Further commentary and a solicitation for help is available at my one-issue blog:

Please consider swamping newspapers with letters, and encouraging your friends in Durham and Wake Counties to hound their elected officials, who appoint the Airport Authority members.

Jeff Vanke is a native of Durham County. He lives in Carrboro with his wife and son, where he is a full-time father and a half-time Associate Professor online at Kaplan College.

Thanks for Reading

We so often criticize the media for what they do wrong, today we have an opportunity to say thanks for a nice story by Dave Hart in today's Chapel Hill News. I didn't expect the photo to be as big as it was, but it's a pretty accurate picture of OP command central.

What makes OrangePolitics matter is the people who read it. All of us individually have opinions, but together we have critical mass. Thank you for being a part of it and making OP the vital and growing community that it is.

Please tell your friends, coworkers, and neighbors about this site so we can hear even more perspectives, and make even more positive change in Orange County!

Can you say 'boondoggle?'

I was baffled last week when the Town Council debated putting 59 people on a committee to decide whether to rename Airport Road. As if the whole committee thing hadn't slowed down Martin Luther King Blvd enough, appointing five dozen people would be sure to put the kibosh on it. Well it seems they are going to stick with the original plan to have just 20 members, but the mayor is still trying to turn this into the Chapel Hill Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

"The charge of the committee is challenging," he said. "The immediate issues and underlying issues that inevitably must be discussed are difficult to discuss in an open, honest, civil and constructive manner."- Chapel Hill Herald, 9/12/04

Good luck!

A new vision for downtown Carrboro jumpstarted

Last night about 80 folks met up with representatives from Main Street Partners, the company that hopes to redevelop the lot that currently is home to the Cat's Cradle, Performance Bikes, the Artscenter, Visart, and numerous other smaller shops and stores. I was actually quite impressed with the understanding the reps showed of the community. I think they realize that this project won't fly without early community buy-in. They also seem to be committed to finding ways to keep the current mix of tenants while attracting new businesses to town related to the music and publishing industries. I'm wondering if other folks have thoughts on this development? I'll reserve my comments for now so others can express themselves...

Carrboro Considers Annexation

Tonight's Carrboro Board of Aldermen meeting was mostly dedicated to considering a possible annexation of the various neighborhoods along the west side of Rogers Road, including the Highlands, Fox Meadow, Fox Run and other 1980's and 1990's subdivisions. The proposed annexation area also includes about half of the lots that actually front on Rogers Road - these lots are part of a neighborhood that was largely built in the 1950's and is simply known as the Rogers Road neighborhood.

I proposed that we take annexation of the Rogers Road neighborhood off the table because the neighborhood asked Chapel Hill and Carrboro to consider relocating the two Towns' annexation boundary line so that we would not end up with half the neighborhood in Carrboro and half in Chapel Hill. We held those discussions about 8 years ago in connection with compensating Rogers Road area residents for the impact of the landfill (which was built after the Rogers Road neighborhood was already there; Highlands etc. were all built after the landfill).

Would "Learn and Earn" help Orange students?

Guest Post by Terri Buckner

Gov. Mike Easley recently announced a new program designed to provide incentive for high school students to remain in school, earn an associate's degree and prepare them for high-skilled jobs in new and emerging industries. "Learn and Earn" will provide students with the option of a five-year high school program that enables them to earn a high school diploma and a community college associate degree while gaining necessary skills to pursue a career in the new economy.

"Our schools have done a tremendous job providing rigorous course work to prepare students for college," said Easley. "However, for students who plan on entering the workforce, what is needed is a more relevant educational experience that will prepare them to compete in the global marketplace."

Durham is one of the pilot sites this fall, and Chatham will go online next fall.



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