Better Together

A good friend of mine spent some time over the holidays in another college town, where his parents live. We were chatting upon his return to Chapel Hill, and he said something that really struck me: Compared to his parents’ town, Chapel Hill just doesn’t have a real sense of community.

He explained a bit more, specifically mentioning that something exciting had happened at the university and everyone in town was abuzz about it. That’s not something that happens in Chapel Hill, he said. And, after thinking about it, I realized how right he is. There’s a big disconnect in Chapel Hill between the people who live here and both UNC as an institution and the students, faculty, and staff who make up the UNC-affiliated part of our community.

Over at Chapelboro, Matt Bailey wrote an excellent commentary over the holiday break about why he’s excited for the days when UNC students are in town. His sentiment is one I wish more Chapel Hillians expressed. After all, the reason our community exists at all is because UNC is here.

Let's get Chancellor Thorp off to a good start

Holden Thorp starts his new job tomorrow. I'm feeling very encouraged about his potential to establish a more collaborative relationship between the University and our local governments. I hope he will remember that neither can thrive without the other.

What advice do you have for him?

Mysterious acquisition

UPDATE: UNC is buying University Square and Granville Towers.

Anyone want to guess what this is about?

Representatives from UNC-Chapel Hill and the Town of Chapel Hill will hold a joint news conference at 1 p.m. today to announce details about a major real estate acquisition. The event will be held at the Chapel Hill Town Hall.

The news will have "significant positive implications" for the future of the downtown Chapel Hill business district, UNC officials said this morning.

Chancellor gives himself a good grade

I'm happy for Chancellor James Moeser that he looks back at his time at Carolina and sees an improvement in Town-Gown relations, as WCHL reported recently. I'll admit that the Chancellor seems to have stopped lobbing bombs at the town, which seemed to be his M.O. when he first arrived almost 8 years ago. He also seems to have developed a trusting friendship with the Mayor of Chapel Hill.

UNC proposes cursory master plan review

Just got an info item that will be on the Chapel Hill Town Council's agenda tonight. Apparently the "Innovations Center" is on next week's agenda (1/23/08), but of course the Council needs to know about the plans for Carolina North to understand the context for this first building. So UNC proposes to toss off a presentation about the Carolina North Master Plan at the same meeting and then go on with presenting the concept plan of the Innovations Center.

I would think the Town would need a moment to actually comprehend the plan before trying to understand something that is supposed to fit into it. But of course that would assume that UNC actually wants elected officials, staff, or citizens of Chapel Hill (and Carrboro) to analyze, understand, or respond to anything they're doing.

It sounds like UNC's plan is just to do a quick presentation, and listen to public comment at this meeting - with one week's notice - and then just go along their merry way building the first phase Carolina North without any substantial input from the community.



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