September 2006

The NextBus is here

The much-discussed and very expensive NextBus system is now operational! Using this web site, you can see where buses are on 5 of Chapel Hill Transit's 24 weekday routes.

I haven't got a chance to check out the interface at bus stops yet. Any one seen it?

Don't forget to pack your laptop - Madison 2006 open thread

I have received no reply to my private and public offers to help set-up a blog or other tools to help the participants document the Inter-City Visit and Leadership Conference which starts tonight in Madison, Wisconsin. But I still believe that if this trip is informative to the diverse and illustrious group of community leaders who are attending, then learning about their experiences and insights will also be helpful for anyone else in the community.

So please consider this post an open thread to discuss the trip - especially if you are on it. It should be easy if you bring a laptop, the hotel where you are staying provides complimentary high-speed wireless Internet. And if you forgot to pack your laptop - don't worry. I will personally reimburse any cost associated with getting online for any Madison participants who post here on this page during the 2-day trip (or posts pictures of the trip on This offer stands for reporters as well.

Keeping Carrboro Green

The News&Observer has a story today about the Carrboro Greenspace effort.

A group is trying to raise the down payment on $1.4 million it needs to save a green hillside near downtown from buildings, cars and pollution.

The Carrboro Greenspace Collective is trying to preserve about 10.5 acres off of Old Pittsboro Road, where the "Old Sparrow Pool," a community swimming spot, used to be....

The collective is giving tours of the property at 2 p.m. Sundays. Meet at 116 Old Pittsboro Road.

The community garden group works in the garden at the corner of Daffodil Lane and Old Pittsboro Road at 10:30 a.m. Saturdays.
- N&O: Group aims to buy plot, keep it green, 9/27/06

For more information, call Sammy Slade at 225-3433 or send e-mail to

Meet Orange County manager finalists

Orange County is taking a little longer than Chapel Hill did to select and hire a new Manager. Slow and steady wins the race...

The Orange County Board of Commissioners cordially invites the public to attend a Reception to Meet the Finalists for County Manager on Tuesday, October 3, 2006 from 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. in the Jury Room at the New Courthouse, 106 East Margaret Lane, Hillsborough, N.C. (prior to the BOCC meeting at 7:00 p.m. in the F. Gordon Battle Courtroom in Hillsborough). Each finalist will be given a chance to make a presentation between 7:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. in the Battle courtroom.

Other than this press release (whose link I suspect will not work when the page changes), I can't find any other info on their web site about the manager search. Anyone know who the candidates are?

Breaking down the Residences at Grove Park (425 Hillsborough St.)

As published in the Chapel Hill Herald on September 23rd, 2006

In recent years there has been no proposed development in Chapel Hill that I have more mixed feelings about than the Residences at Grove Park, which would replace the current Town House Apartments on Hillsborough Street with a number of relatively up-scale condos.

On one hand this kind of development fits in perfectly with the direction Chapel Hill's downtown needs to go in. We want more people living near the city's core. This certainly accomplishes that goal.

Beyond that, the Town House Apartments are not particularly nice. This would be a step forward in terms of aesthetics.

On the other hand, this poses a major problem in the sense that it will remove a large amount of student housing near campus. Already the local housing supply is having trouble keeping up with the university's expansion and causing students to choose places to live further and further away from Chapel Hill.

Question tourism

I really enjoyed this recent letter to the editor in the Chapel Hill News:

What a shame to foretell "gloom and doom" during hurricane season, but I must add my 2-cents worth to the intention of Laurie Paolicelli, executive director of the Chapel Hill-Orange County Visitors Bureau, and Daniel Wallace, gifted novelist, to put Carrboro on the national map via feature articles and testimonials in national publications. What could these people be thinking of?

Remember what Money magazine and other national coverage (that rated the best places to live in the United States) did for Chapel Hill? Did this type of coverage entice visitors? No. Droves of people moved here to live fore the duration. They were not tourists. And now we have four-lane highways where we used to have two-lane roads. And schools? No matter how many new schools are built, there are never enough to go around for long. And let's not do more than mention the deforestation.

So what makes the bureau think its publicity will attract only its stated audience-tourists?

It's not easy being three

Today marks the third birthday of OrangePolitics. What might our fourth year hold for us? I have been considering some improvements in how things are run, but they will require more time and energy from more people to make it work.

Our blogging software, WordPress 1.5, is being stretched a little beyond its capacity. I'd like to consider moving to a more powerful platform, such as CivicSpace, which would make it easier for all readers to have their own blogs on the site, and add many other useful tools. (See BlueNC for an example of a typical CivicSpace community site.)

Is Chapel Hill getting cool again?

As was mentioned on the tourism thread, comedian Lewis Black is buying a home in downtown Chapel Hill.

Black, a Daily Show and HBO favorite famous for his jittery gesticulations and splenetic sputterings on President Bush, clueless Americans and corporate greed, has purchased a two-bedroom unit at Chapel Hill's Condominiums at McCorkle Place, 213 E. Franklin St., a 69-year-old brick building sandwiched between the University Presbyterian Church and the Kappa Delta sorority house.

"This is the first place I've ever bought," said Black, who lives in Hell's Kitchen in New York City. "I've been broke most of my life."
- The Independent: News

Y'all Vote

The people who frequent this blog need no further encouragement to vote on November 7.

However, if you know someone who doesn't really know who's running in Orange County's elections, or can't distinguish between Mark Martin the Supreme Court candidate and Mark Martin the NASCAR driver, please consider directing them to a new web site,

The site contains a comprehensive list of web sites for candidates running for North Carolina state and local offices. For example, the Orange County page has candidate links for competitive races for County Commission, Sheriff, Superior Court, House District 54, and Senate District 23. Other features include links to voter registration forms, a blog to debate voter turnout issues, an "Election Alarm Clock" reminder, and other links to relevant sites. is non-partisan, non-commercial (i.e., we accept no advertising and collect no revenue) and does not support a particular candidate or ideology.



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