With all the talk about restructuring Chapel Hill's advisory boards, I thought it might be good time to publicly share my idea for a new board to help foster better civic engagement and more open government, while also addressing the gap left by firing the technology advisory board 7 years ago. I shared this proposal with the Mayor's Committee on Communications in late 2010, but there didn't seem to be much interest at the time. Maybe now there is an opportunity to do something to make Chapel Hill more participatory and democratic.
Yesterday at noon, Chapel Hill's Economic Development Officer Dwight Bassett provided a brief, one-hour presentation outlining some key facts and developments concerning retail, housing, and office space in Chapel Hill. The full presentation can be viewed here.
I attended and live-tweeted the meeting. You can see the play-by-play below.
Tonight is the first of two public information sessions regarding changes to Chapel Hill's advisory board structure. For the past several years, the Town of Chapel Hill has been in the process of reevaluating most of its operations. This includes changes in department organizational policies and procedures, employee compensation and classification, and Council guidelines for more efficient meetings. However, one area of the Town's operations that has not yet been restructured are its advisory boards. There has been a Council committee in place since 2010 (currently comprised of Council Members Gene Pease, Laurin Easthom, and Matt Czajkowski) to evaluate the advisory boards, and last Wednesday Council Member Pease presented their recommendations for board restructuring at a Council work session
At 7:00 pm on Tuesday night, at the Southern Orange Human Services center at 2501 Homestead Rd in Chapel Hill, the Orange County Comissioners will discuss the Orange County Public Library Draft Strategic Plan for 2013 - 2016. The draft plan can be found in the Work Session agenda (PDF) on the county website.
The last time the library was discussed at the BOCC, the county staff suggested that the plan, which is being written up by Dr. Anthony Chow, an assistant professor in the Department of Library Science at UNC-Greensboro, would be critical to informing the site selection of the Southern Branch of the Orange County Library. The plan begins on page 29 of the PDF after Dr. Chow's Curriculum Vitae.
During their April 29, 2013 work session, Chapel Hill Town Council continued to discuss and refine a process plan and schedule for Obey Creek and S15-501.
The process consists of two phases – an Exploratory phase during which a team of consultants will facilitate a planning process and, if the resulting project plan is deemed appropriate for a Development Agreement, a Negotiation and Implementation phase will follow.
Focus during the council work session was on a fleshed out plan for the Exploratory Phase which is the product of a collaborative effort between town staff, East West Partners and two community members.
The new plan calls for a six to nine month public engagement process that includes many opportunities for public engagement. However, the plan provides no formalized mechanism for citizen inclusion in decision-making or process leadership.
Today I am very happy to announce that we have a new member joining the OrangePolitics Posse (a.k.a. editorial board)! Travis Crayton has been a regular poster & commenter here on OP for almost 2 years. Travis first became interested in local issues when he served as treasurer and an active volunteer for Lee Storrow's 2011 campaign. Since then, he's become particularly interested in transit, economic development, town-university relations, and all things downtown. He graduates this Sunday from UNC with a degree in political science and public policy.
On Wednesday, I attended the meeting assessing the pedestrian traffic issues along Country Club Rd. The primary area of focus was between the Laurel Hill and Ridge Rd intersections. The Ridge Rd intersection currently has right-of-way for Country Club Rd traffic and a stop sign for Ridge Rd traffic; however, there is much more vehicle traffic coming from Ridge Rd than Country Club. The Laurel Hill intersection has neglible traffic apart from local neighborhood travel.
Hat tip to our friend Lee Storrow for noticing this blog post on "16 Sassy Tweets From The Nation's 16th Largest School District" about Wake County Schools' Twitter feed.
Rosemary Street in downtown Chapel Hill has a lot of untapped potential and is already a vibrant intersection for students and permanent residents (including long-time residents of the historically African American Northside neighborhood). The Town of Chapel Hill Economic Development Office and the Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership have teamed up to create a new process they are calling 'Rosemary Imagined,' which they are promoting as "an innovative community-led process to refine our thinking of how Rosemary Street fits into the development and growth of Downtown Chapel Hill."