I sincerely wish I could have been at the Century Center Aug. 30 to celebrate the retirement of my dad, David Poythress.
Dad loves this town. Ever since I can remember, my dad has made sure that I knew Carrboro was a part of our family. From as early as kindergarten, my Dad would pick me up from FPG and we would drive around Carrboro looking for burned-out street lights! I felt that it was my civic duty to help my dad keep the lights on in Carrboro.
I have seen my dad work tirelessly for this town. Whether he was out all night and day fighting a hurricane or ice storm; or assuring the patrons of Weaver Street that tearing up their beloved street actually had purpose; or trying to convince anarchists they did not need to carry an upside-down flag in the Fourth of July Parade; or figuring out that goats, of all things, could clean up Anderson Park; or taking on a second superintendent position when the town called on him.
My dad would do anything for this town. And not just because of how much he cares about Carrboro, but also because how much he cares about all of you. My dad has always respected all of the people he has worked with. Enough to bring his son around to wreck the occasional havoc on Public Works (the rides around the garage on the push cart were the unforgettable, Dad!).
I really want to thank everybody for celebrating my Dad’s retirement. If there was only some way I could have teleported 3,000 miles, then I would have. Ironically, it is his 30 years of hard work that has allowed me to adventure to the West Coast. Thanks for everything, Dad! Congratulations!
The news has just come out that the cost of the town’s consultant for planning the Central West focus area (part of the Chapel Hill 2020 plan) has ballooned from $92,000 to $230,000. Taxpayers are concerned. How did this happen?
One theory is that “obstructionists” on the Steering Committee that the Council set up to develop the plan have blocked progress and caused the costs to run up. I am sure that this explanation is irresistibly satisfying to some, but it could not be further from the truth.
The causes of the cost increase are clear:
When the consultants started to work with the Steering Committee, they cranked out a series of maps of potential development at a frantic pace. There were at least eight of them! And all this before the Steering Committee had even decided on their principles to guide Central West development. Having all these complicated maps explained to them and trying to understand the differences among them took up a huge amount of committee time and actually hindered them from working together to begin to reach a consensus on the best plan for the area.
Some members of the committee asked for a skilled, neutral facilitator to lead discussions, but the committee did not adopt the idea. The leadership of the committee discussions passed back and forth in an unpredictable way among the town staff, the consultants (inappropriately leading the review of their own work), and the two committee co-chairs. This arrangement often failed to pursue a topic to reach a consensus and left issues hanging.
The Town staff never informed the Committee about how much money was available for the consultant and how fast it was dwindling. The Committee members were just as surprised as anyone else when the news about the cost problem came out.
All of the participants in this planning exercise have acted with good intentions. And admittedly, it’s a challenging project and much easier to see problems in hindsight than to avoid them in the press of events. But we should learn from these outcomes and apply the lessons to future Town planning efforts (and to the last act of this one).
John N. Morris, Dan Bruce, Fred Lampe, Alan N. Snavely, Glen H. Elder Jr., Sandy Turbeville and Alan R.Tom
I want to express my extreme concern about the Central West planning process. I am dismayed, concerned and angry about this ongoing fiasco!
1. The Process. The external consultant and the town staff have been totally refractory to citizen input. There is very limited time at the meetings to hear from concerned citizens and then their comments are totally ignored and not reflected in the proceedings of the meetings.
2. The Cost. I was shocked to learn that the consultant is to receive over $200,000. In my view the consultant has been inept, ignorant about Chapel Hill’s special qualities, and unrealistic in her proposals. As a taxpayer I am irate about this incredible waste of money during a time of fiscal constraint.
3. The Vision. The consultant, town staff and some members of the committee seem enamored of a utopian new urbanism involving very high density development. The idea of an integrated, walkable, transit friendly community is great. But its not what the Central West properties can become. The area involved is far too small to establish a truly integrated community. Rather, if the consultant’s views are followed, it is likely to become a dysfunctional lump of high density that is incompatible with the surrounding neighborhoods.
4. The Traffic. High-density development in CW will inevitably result in a substantial increase in traffic on Estes. Since this road is already at F status (essentially gridlocked) during the busiest times additional traffic will create major problems. This could impact on the safety of children at Phillips and Estes schools and will no doubt cause drivers to cut through adjoining neighborhood streets to avoid Estes.
5. The Rationale. Why is there such a rush to develop this area? Obviously it’s in the interests of the landowners to do so, but is it in the interests of the community? At one point it could have been argued that infrastructure for Carolina North was needed. But Carolina North is dead in the water for the foreseeable future. Will the proposed high-density development provide a major increase in tax revenue? Perhaps, but the fiscal projections have never been clearly spelled out.
While some level of medium density retail and residential development may be appropriate, it will be essential not to choke Estes with more traffic than it can handle and not to create an urbanized nightmare that is incompatible with the surrounding neighborhoods.
Gracious golf clubs
I have been a golf coach, at various levels and locales, for over 20 years, the last three for Carrboro High School’s women’s team. In that time, I have known a number of golf course (public and private) professionals and employees, who have willingly offered their time, assistance, and courses to our players, free of charge.
Although all the previous institutions have been gracious, very few, if any, have been as accommodating and helpful as Chapel Hill Country Club and The Golf Club at Chapel Ridge in Pittsboro. These two establishments have consistently gone above and beyond (usually a tired cliché but, in this case, appropriate) traditional support of high school golf programs. They deserve recognition and praise for their actions but, even more so, for their attitude and support of junior golf in the area.
So, thank you to all the folks at Chapel Hill Country Club and The Golf Club at Chapel Ridge. Your generosity has not gone unnoticed and all who you support heartily appreciate what you do for high school golf.
Carrboro High School Women’s Golf
Culbreth Middle School P.E.