123 right for town
The 123 West Franklin project is good and essential for the future of our town.
No matter what number you look at – green space increase, tax base increase, parking spot increase, connectivity increase or appropriately sized retail space increase – this project significantly increases every desirable metric ever mentioned in any meeting I have ever attended in my 20 years of involvement in downtown simultaneously. This project even embodies every idea in the rather schizophrenic guidelines for downtown developed in the 2020 process.
Scores of task forces, consultants and commissions have repeatedly come to the same conclusion: Our downtown has been handicapped by a land-use pattern of shotgun retail stores and long linear blocks with no corners dating back essentially to 1789. Fragmented ownership of property combined with no strategic comprehensive plan for development has chained our downtown to the original 1789 vision of being the retail district remora to UNC’s shark. This vision is woefully outdated and hampers the vitality of our town.
Instead downtown should be leveraging its geographic relationship to UNC to become a vital local, regional and national hub of innovation, entrepreneurship and culture. Other community’s bemoan the lack of talent or capital as major impediments to their progress. We have that in spades. What we don’t have are spaces – green spaces, office spaces, parking spaces – so our talent and capital always flies somewhere else. This project provides all the needed spaces in a beautiful and accessible way.
One last thought. This project is potentially disruptive of the existing economic hegemony. However, we still need to move forward for the greater good. For example, one world view would have this project be the biggest threat conceivable to Top of the Hill Restaurant and Brewery with the opportunity to create new, better funded competitors luring customers away from the corner of Franklin and Columbia. However, even though I stand to lose, I choose to view this project as an important milestone in the growth of our town that will bring more opportunity to everyone including Top of the Hill.
Now is the time. The stars are aligned. Failure to move may result in a Carolina North situation where future economic issues may scuttle a plan that took to long to pass and thus may never happen.Scott Maitland Chapel HillCarrboro’s chance
We have an amazing opportunity in Carrboro over the next 18 months. As many as six positions on the Board of Aldermen could be up for grabs, beginning with the special election March 19.
Let’s use these next 18 months to encourage the widest, broadest and deepest conversation possible about the state of our town, and the direction in which it is heading.
In that regard, I have a challenge to all those who make up the political establishment in Carrboro. Stand back. Let the people have that conversation. Let them make their own choices, without direction from you.
Do not nominate, do not endorse, do not lobby, do not campaign. Do not close ranks to anoint an heir. Rather, step back. And encourage as many different people as possible, with as many different views as possible, to nominate themselves as candidates. And then campaign, only for themselves. So that the people of Carrboro can hear, can ask, can decide, without feeling they are being railroaded in any particular direction.
To those organizations which normally endorse, I say this: send out your questionnaires, hold your forums, publish the results. And then leave it at that. Let the people make up their own minds.
To the rest I suggest this: hold your tongues, and your pens. No letters to the media. No posts on blogs in support. Please move out of the way, and create space for those whose voices are not normally heard; let them ask their questions, let them create the conversation, rather than the “professional” talking heads.
Carrboro prides itself on being a progressive town. So Carrboro, let’s demonstrate progress with the democratic process. Let’s give it back, lock, stock and barrel, to the people. Vox Pop in Carrboro.Geoff Gilson CarrboroDereliction of duty
The General Assembly and governor are in danger of dereliction of duty to uphold the well being of North Carolinians if they pass the pending bill that opts out of running the Health Insurance Exchange for affordable insurance, and refuses expansion of Medicaid for our large poor population, even though the federal government will pay up to 100 percent of added costs.
The added jobs would be a boost for the economy and would assist struggling people, including those whose unemployment insurance is being cut.
How will they explain to their constituents that funds to care for them in rural hospitals may run dry and whose aging parents need long-term care that they will have to provide on their own?
The Republican majority and governor have the power to do what they will. But power in a democracy also means listening to the opposition and having concern for all the people, whatever their status.
Lawmakers can still strengthen North Carolinians and not demand they trade off food or decent housing or education to pay for needed health care by reversing the thrust of this legislation. The state is always stronger and more inviting when the well-being of its people is protected.Nancy Milio Chapel Hill
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