Commentary

David Lindquist: When two towns are one

March 7, 2014 

Last Sunday's commentary by Linda Haac cannot go unanswered.

First, Ms. Haac, who invited you to set up this false rivalry and false dichotomy between two lovely, exciting towns that have over the years grown into one?

Most of us no longer think of “going to Carrboro” or “going to Chapel Hill” – we think of going down the street to shop at Weaver Street or Whole Foods, of enjoying the amazing locally owned art, antique, clothing and gift shops that make a continuous, charming stroll (with perhaps a short hop by car, bike or free bus) from Eastgate to North Carolina Crafts Gallery.

We think of attending concerts at Memorial Hall or Cat's Cradle, of going to the theater in University Mall or at The ArtsCenter – all one short mile or two from each other. When we leave our home at 140 West we may stroll to 30 or more restaurants stretching into Carrboro – all just a 10-minute walk! We never say – let's not go to Carrboro, it is so tacky, or let's stay in Chapel Hill, it is so cool. No one cares! Both are a bit cool and definitely fun and interesting.

Our children may live in Chapel Hill and attend schools in the Carrboro city limits – or vice versa. No one cares– it is the same excellent school system with the same dedicated teachers.

And the architecture comments – really!

Wonder where the planners for that new PTA live, where the architect lives. Wonder if more money was donated from Chapel Hill folks or Carrboro folks. I do not know and I do not care! It is all one town in reality, just with a bad habit of wasting lots of money on duplicated town departments and governance (except for the golden examples of our schools and transportation systems). And is the new PTA really such an architectural miracle that it looks like all of the little houses from the 1920s that surround it – really? I like it – don't misunderstand, but then I have slowly fallen in love with Greenbridge too – and I even like the new Walgreens on Franklin at Estes (beats a decrepit gas station hands down!).

And please don't make silly, untrue comments comparing the new Hampton Inn hotel to 140 West – both are rather easy on the eyes, but the hotel is far more of a monolith. Nothing delights the eye as much as driving down Rosemary from Carrboro and seeing how the columns encased in glass and the setbacks make a visual delight of 140 West.

And then the untrue and snide comments about the businesses in the various buildings – really? Are not locally owned franchises employing local folks a “real” local business? Is not the new men's store, the new sushi restaurant or the newly moved eye care store a local business (or does having three men's stores or two sushi restaurants all owned by a North Carolinian disqualify them in Ms. Haac's eyes)?

There is plenty that is wrong in both of our towns, and plenty that is right. Many of the issues are functions of being university towns (Carrboro in case you have not noticed is as much a university town as Chapel Hill). We have students living in our neighborhoods. We have committees and institutions that can talk any issue to death. But at least we all seem to have the best of intentions for our towns and our fellow citizens.

So please, let us all be proud of Chapelboro. Let us all criticize that which should be improved. But let us not create childish dichotomies which tear us apart – especially when they are patently false!

David Lindquist lives in Chapelboro.

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