Economy & Downtown

Chapel Hill's downtown has long benefited from its proximity to a captive audience of University students without cars. While downtowns around the country have been failing, ours has survived fairly well. However, we have seen an increase in the number of chain stores locating downtown, and instability in the Downtown Economic Development Corporation. In the near future, we will see new Town-directed development on two major parking lots have a big impact.
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Carrboro's downtown has also done better than many towns of comparable size, thanks largely to the presence of Weaver Street Market and progressive shoppers from the rest of the county. The Board of Aldermen has been addressing the evolution of the downtown, and have established a number of community resources in the downtown area including free wireless Internet access, and a low-power radio station.

Maybe if we close our eyes and pretend they're not here...

In response to the After Chill shooting, the Town Manager is proposing that ALL downtown gatherings be cancelled, moved, or severely curtailed with the exception of NCAA championships. This seems like a really bad idea to me. Not only are these festivals and parties great community-building events for the town, many of them can't be stopped even if we want to.

When over 70,000 people come downtown for an event that no-one has organized or even planned, you can't just tell them to go away. They are individual adults with their own decision-making authority. Just like you don't get to tell me what do on my Saturday nights, you don't get to tell them where to celebrate Halloween.

Franklin Street's days as party central might be numbered. Town staff members are floating proposals that could eliminate all but one of the main drag's main events.

The unofficial Halloween celebration might be killed by a 10 p.m. curfew. Wins over Duke and in the semifinals of the NCAA Tournament might move to campus. Festifall could go to Chapel Hill High School.

Walk around in Hillsborough

I love walking around in downtown Hillsborough, but as long as these things keep starting at 9 am on Saturday mornings, I guess I'll have to keep reading about them in paper.

[The Walkable Hillsborough Coalition] is planning for this year's Walkable Hillsborough Day, which will be held June 3...

This year's theme may be the Churton Street Corridor Plan that includes pedestrian and bikeable ways from I-40 to N.C. 57. WaHC member Holly Reid said three walks are being considered for this year, including the Margaret Lane Cemetery and Turnip Patch Park loop, Historic Cameron Park and the Nature Trail and the West End Park Trail by Ben Johnson Dam...

All walks begin and end at the courthouse, with a start time of 9 a.m.
- News of Orange: Walkability of town focus of annual event, 5/11/06

Catch the NextBus

Chapel Hill is missing an excellent opportunity to deploy up to a hundred Internet hotspots along our transit corridors. Last week, the town signed a contract with NextBus, Inc. to provide, at a cost of $949,030, digital signs at 14 bus stops to inform riders of expected bus ETAs. NextBus, unlike competitors Motorola and Cityspace, uses last-gen cell technology over next-gen WiFi-MESH.

Instead of purchasing an open standards system utilizing WiFi/WiMAX wireless technology - technology allowing Chapel Hill to provide ubiquitous communication services to police, fire, public works and the general public from as many as 100 bus stops along the 26 bus transit routes - the town's transit department recently endorsed NextBus' proprietary cellphone-based bus-tracking system.

Specifically, NextBus is providing 14 digital signs, tracking of 83 vehicles and web-reporting on 26 routes for $949,030.

Bad apples

I thought Apple Chill and the motorcycle festival and the associated traffic management was handled very well today.

Unfortunately, a few idiots have chosen mess it up for the rest of us. "Two people have been taken to UNC Hospitals Sunday night after four shots were fired on Franklin Street." - WRAL.com News

UPDATE: "Forty-five minutes after the initial shooting Jarvies said police received another report of gunshots fired several blocks east of 110 W. Franklin Street. In a third incident, a gun was brandished, but no shots were fired." - N&O: Three people shot in Chapel Hill

Greener fields?

Nancy Suttenfield, a key UNC "mover-n-shaker" since 2000, current member on many Town-n-Gown related boards, is leaving UNC and is headed to Wake Forest.

Nancy's been quite busy both at UNC overseeing the recent tidal wave of capital expenditures. She's also been involved in a number of Town-n-Gown outreach efforts, such as Kevin Foy's Downtown Partnership. Not only did she help form UNC's new Carolina North committee, she's one of UNC's key representatives on that committee.

I wonder if her leaving will change the current shaky dynamic of that committee?

More from today's Herald-Sun.

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