Chilly Friday open thread

I'm still out of town all day, so here's a new thread and random topics to keep things moving.

Trader Joe's coming to Chapel Hill. (My opinion: Whole Foods may need to worry about losing a lot of customers, but not Weaver Street Market).

UNC buys historic district property for $2.6 million but claims to have no specific plans for it.

UNC's on-campus bowling alley is closing. No more students will get the opportunity (that I had) to learn the finer points of picking up a spare for P.E. credit.

Or choose your own adventure...



Go see Sea Cow and Chest Pains at The Cave tonight.

Sea Cow: 7:30 early show. Rock/Americana.

Chest Pains (w/ Blag'ard and special guest): 10 ish late show. Straight up hardcore punk, baby.

Remember, The Cave is now no-smoking in the front room, and serves liquor!

The Chapel Hill Town Council agenda for Wednesday lists Public Hearing: Public Art Contextual Plan on the schedule. Within the plan is the proposal to raise percent for art from 1% to 2%.

I hope that they won't agree to this, even though some of our boards and commissions are for it, and some aren't. I would prefer that we either cap the current 1% spending based on the total of a capital budget expenditure, or we pool the percent for art money for better coverage of a range of projects like they do in Seattle.

I won't be able to be there in person Wednesday (and so I'll also miss hearing one of WillR's petitions :-)) but I hope others might add their voices to this important discussion.

Wow, TJs in Chapel Hill. That's one less reason for you to move to CA.

If the new TJ's is like the TJ's that opened in Cary a few months ago, I don't think Whole Foods needs to worry. They'll probably lose some wine and coffee sales, but WH remains a real grocery, while TJ is largely, imho, a well-crafted inducement to impulse buying. If you're buying food or a family, you can shop at TJ's and then go to WH for everything TJ's doesn't stock , or just go to WH for everything.

Very happy Trader Joes is coming. So fun It will make Weaver street seem stuffy and uptight.

Great post on Planetizen about the competing dichotomies (he calls this schizophrenia) between Smart Growth and traditional landuse/economic development concerns.

I'll add my own two contradictions here:

1. We want great schools and we're willing to pay for them. But the only programs worth fighting for are those that meet the needs of white, upperclass children. (Pardon my cynicism on this one. I don't think anyone consciously believes this--just how it plays out in practice.)

2. We want a progressive community and we don't want any businesses coming in that run contrary to progressive goals. So what if that means middle to low income residents can no longer afford to live here? We're still all for diversity.

Ruby sez: "UNC's on-campus bowling alley is closing. No more students will get the opportunity (that I had) to learn the finer points of picking up a spare for P.E. credit."
see linked article:

The article talks about bowling in 1968 in the Student Union, actually the Union opened in January 1969, I took bowling that semester (I was a freshman) as in the first class group to use the lanes! I just went over to where my grades are stored, I was a real slacker that semester and managed to get a C in bowling:


(I'm taking a graduate school calss at the J-School this semester so I can still log in and check my grades, they have them online a long way back, amazing what the IT department had to do to convert all those old records!)

I think you have overstated the issue with funding of school programs: there are other programs 'worth fighting for' and are being 'faught for'. What programs? ESL activities and support, resource teachers, teaching assistants, fund raising to support economically disadvantaged students and families ( to participate in activities that cost money, not everything is donated), minority achievement gap, etc. However, I agree it does seem as though the programs for gifted students and activities involving mostly white students receive more attention. One factor: more white parents know how to work within the system, have time (and the means) to email, call and meet with teachers, staff and the board, and are comfortable to do so. There are of course other reasons.

You can disagree that the district has not effectively spent money on closing the gap (the gap still exists) but that effort is emphasized.

Another contradiction - we claim to be a progressive community on certain issues as soon as a mainstream player adopts the trappings of sustainability - such as the Chamber holding a few seminars on "sustainability" and claiming leadership or the local schools finally building green schools - while not acknowledging the people who planted the seeds and did the real work or bringing the ideas and policy suggestions to the community over the last 20 years. And we forget that the same narrow "either/or" argumenst were mounted by these same mainstream players when the ideas they eventually adopted were first put forth.

We heard the same narrow logic - similar to the false choice between having a fair, progressive economy and helping low-income people - from school officials when green schools were first lobbied for. Similar cycle on other issues. We can learn from the past and the creative solutions that eventually were adopted, but the cost of doing that often involves revealing the true nature of those that initially resisted the positive changes and later claimed the mantle of innovator.


The exercise of identifying dichotomies lends itself well to black and white statements. However, in terms of achievement gap funding, I think there is a serious split between theory and practice. The gap has existed for decades. It's been discussed and 'highlighted' for the past 20 years. And yet it doesn't change. That's not an overstatement.

Last year I went to the achievement gap meetings held by the district. The meetings were held so that teachers could come after work. Few if any parents ever attended--probably because they were still working or at home getting dinner ready. If the district was serious, they would be holding these meetings on Sunday afternoons in the local African-American churches so ensure higher participation by parents.

The meetings themselves were presentations on what the district is doing to address the problem. It was interesting learning about their programming and some of it sounds very encouraing. But I've never seen any evaluation of whether those efforts are working other than the bottom line drop out rates and test scores, and you know that data is increasingly discouraging.

I was dropped from the Minority Achievement group's mailing list, around the same time I began asking for demographic and performance data on the Focal program, a program that assigns students in primary school to a lower academic/vocational tract and creates an inpenetrable barrier to transition into the regular curriculum.

"We want great schools and we're willing to pay for them."

This is true across the board, except for die-hard free-market true believers and religious separatists.

"the only programs worth fighting for are those that meet the needs of white, upperclass children."

This is obviously only the view of a certain subset of white upper class parents, who are usually the same ones complaining the loudest (and most effectively) about their tax burden.

Not sure how that makes a dichotomy.


Although she is so politically connected that she apparently been mentioned in none other than the Washington Post, and has posted more than once about her "long time" concern about the Rogers Road community, somehow our own Ruby has not made enough of a real difference in this local issue which is so near and dear to her heart that she would be mentioned in an article in the Carrboro Citizen:

So, what is up with that, Ruby?? Certainly you do not want to be accused of being a poser on this issue, since you have said that you have followed it for so very, very, very, very, very long. It is time for you to stand up and speak out for your neighbors. Maybe if the Carrboro Citizen will not listen then your buddies at the Washington Post could help?? Step up to the plate, in some measureable fashion, por favor.

Happy Easter!

John Kramer--I've made an ass of myself many times on this board, but you've helped me exceed my previous achievements with this post. So much for my defense of you on the other thread. The least you could do if you're going to call someone out personally is sign your full name.

For those who don't get the town of Chapel Hill updates. Speeding through school zones is one of my pet peeves so I'm very glad to see the town combining their new found dedication to renewable energies with school safety.

School Zone Flashing Lights Installed

In an effort to improve pedestrian safety, Town of Chapel Hill crews are installing new school zone flashing lights, which are among the first in the community.

The public is invited to unveilings of these solar-powered signal lights to be held on Wednesday, April 18, at 11:30 a.m. at Ephesus Elementary, 1495 Ephesus Church Road, and at 1:45 p.m. at Estes Hills Elementary and Phillips Middle schools along Estes Drive. Another light is being installed at Culbreth Middle School. The unveilings will be conducted by Town and Chapel Hill-Carrboro City School leaders, along with students, teachers and parents.

The improvements are funded with $21,000 of sidewalk and street improvements bonds approved by voters in 2003 and earmarked for traffic calming and neighborhood pedestrian safety improvements. Flashing lights, along with existing school speed zone signs, enhance the awareness of the motoring public when traveling near schools.

As part of Chapel Hill's commitment to energy conservation and the use of renewable energy, engineers have selected "solar-powered" lights that are activated during the morning and afternoon hours on school days. Solar panels absorb the suns' rays, even on overcast days, converting them to electricity. The electricity is stored in batteries. A small proprietary controller controls the functions of the system. The standard system is designed to operate for at least five consecutive days without sunlight.

The lights were approved in September 2006 by the Town Council, which acted on recommendations from the school administration and volunteers working with Go! Chapel Hill Active Living By Design Active School program. The schools participated in safety assessments, national workshops and events that promote walking such as Safe Routes to School, Walking Wednesday and International Walk to School Day.

Part of the LEEDS mystique is the notion that we need a "priesthood" to tell us if our buildings qualify. It really would not be very difficult for the town to come up with their own checklist and methods of determining if a project met the checklist. In fact, whoever is overseeing the project for the town should have a rudimentary knowledge of environmentally sound construction anyway.

I just heard on WCHL that Carrboro is going to forego paying for LEEDS certification for their new fire-house(at a reported savings of $40-60,000) and instead use the money to incorporate more green features. Sounds like rock-solid common sense.

Makes you glad there's no "No Building left Behind" government program to mandate wasting money to prove something that can be observed without high-priced testing.

John Kramer gets the credit for starting the certification discussion when he sent me an article called "LEEDS is broken" last spring. I got additional feedback on the article from Dean Malecha of NCSU College of Design and from local architect Jack Haggarty before turning it over to Carrboro staff. The folks at Stewart, Cooper, Newell Architects were amenable to putting the certification costs into additional "sustainability" improvements instead.

Dan, I agree LEEDs is broken but there has to be some kind of criteria to measure the development against. What will the BOA use to measure Stewart, Cooper, Newell Architects sustainability improvements? Just curious.

Carrboro is also working on a sustainability rating system to incorporate into our development review process.

I heard the same WCHL report and was wondering if you could contractually obligate the developer to implementing a certain level of LEEDS or some acceptable alternative metric without requiring the certification itself.

Mark M, I think the certification is essentially a Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval and is therefore meant primarily for marketing the LEEDS certified building. In this case, we are not marketing the fire station to anyone, so we don't need that.

I am sure we can find more cost effective ways to measure our own success - as long as the community is satisfied with the result.

The town council will be receiving the consultant's technology needs assessment on Monday night. I'm relatively satisfied with the report. The one big area of omission that I see from the work done by the now disbanded Technology Committee is security. But the consultants are nearly as negative toward CivicPlus as we were! What do others think of this report and suggestions?

The wireless proposal will also be presented on Monday, but it's not yet available via the web.

I plan on going to the council meeting on Wednesday June 27 when both of these items are presented. Hope to live blog them. See Town Agenda here.

I hope to attend, though with the Lot #5 debacle on the agenda it will mean three trips to the podium ;-) Sorry DanR

Stancil just announced that the new Chief has declined the posts due to health reasons. He couldn't pass the required physical.

BTW, if anyone was wondering how the contract for Lot #5's art work could be let during the consent agenda prior to the approval of Lot #5's SUP - Town Attorney Ralph K. says "no problem".

I thought it stank a bit of a "fait accompli" in that we're initiating a contract for art development for a project that the Council is supposedly "open minded" enough to shoot down.

The N&O today reports that

"Chapel Hill has received the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting, the highest form of recognition in the area of governmental accounting and financial reporting, for the 21st year.

Chapel Hill was among 23 municipalities that won both the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting and the Distinguished Budget Presentation Award from the Government Financial Officers Association of the United States and Canada."

Congratulations to the town for this recognition.

Carrboro, Chapel Hill Carrboro City Schools, Orange County, and OWASA also won the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting. All but CHCCS also won the Distinguished Budget Presentation Award.

Congratulations to all the winners.

(definitely NOT a chilly Friday....)

Nationally-acclaimed environmental leader Lois Gibbs, Executive Director, Center for Health, Environment and Justice (CHEJ), will be in Saxapahaw to discuss the importance of community activism in fighting polluting industry. Lois is known as the "mother of Superfund" for her groundbreaking victory in 1980 relocating 900 families away from the Love Canal, the site of a former toxic chemical waste dump. Families with children living in the Love Canal district experienced birth defects, miscarriages, cancers and health problems.

Please join us for this FREE event!
Sunday, August 19, from 1-4 p.m.
River Landing Inn, 5942 Whitney Road, Graham, NC 27253
(*just across the bridge from Saxapahaw)
Live music by MEBANESVILLE ~ PICNIC pickins!

For more details:

Maybe those who attend will take up the issue of our own landfill. One can always hope, eh?

Landfills are part of it, but the stimulus for this event is land application of sludge, or what the professional water and sewer folks called biosolids. Burlington sends tons of theirs to farms around the Cane Creek reservoir. While treatment plants remove many of the toxins and pathogens, they don't have tests for everything since new toxins and pathogens can be formed through the interaction of known compounds. Plus temperature during transport is suspected to reactivate some that were treated at the plant.

Beside pathogens, there are other residues - from Prozac to antibiotics - that are not routinely tested for but which remain in the sludge at various concentrations.

Great series Terri on Carrying Capacity, thanks.

They don't remain just in the sludge Will. There's a ton of scientific research going on right now about pharmaceuticals in our water. UC Davis just got $7.5 million to investigate how genes and exposure to environmental chemicals (water and air born) during fetal development may play a role in the development of autism. Then there's all those missing frogs--turns out estrogens (aka endocrine disrupters) that are not filtered out of wastewater are causing sex changes in frog and fish embryos.

Just grabbing the closest available open thread here...How about Chatham County driving local discussions on how regional cooperation can get them more water?

They point to OWASA as part of the solution partly because OWASA doesn't need as much water as they do.

Two points on this: 1) OWASA doesn't need its Jordan Lake allocation - and is in better shape than any other regional water jurisdiction - because it proactively instituted conservation measures that have proven successful & 2) Chatham County has been a rats nest of go-go growthers for the past several years and, when it comes to water, their perspective has been to target increasing supplies without any serious conservation ethic (and not understanding that conservation is actually being a source of "supply").

A fair way to deal with the type of request that Chatham is making is to simply say: In order to deserve any regional help, you must show that you understand the rudiments of sustainability as it relates to water use by instituting effective conservation measures.

The sentence "Poor planning on your part does not constitute
an emergency on ours" covers this situation precisely.
I saw it first at UNC's medical illustration facility, whose
staff members were tired of processing requests from
faculty in emergency mode, when the deadlines were
known by the faculty years in advance. Med Ill made
a cartoon poster with this phrase and posted it at the
entrance to their lab.

There is a relevant parallel:
A half dozen years ago, the school system needed a
site for the next high school, now Carrboro HS. They came
to the CH town council, armed with a group of angry parents
who demanded that the town give up the bulk of the
land that the town had purchased years ago for its southern park, and sell
it to the school system because the school system "badly
needed a new school site, and it was so late that this was a
true emergency". The parents and school administrators indicated that it might be possible to share the school site with a new park, and even allow the town parks and rec programs to use some of the school's athletic fields while the schools were not using
them. Assistant superintendant Steve Scroggs said that the schools would
build an urban campus, thereby saving land. However,
when pressed to define what that meant, he said that it would
require "35 acres with no topographic constraints".
Thus the school system wanted the best part and the
major part of the sixty-acre site.
Town manager Horton said that athletic field
sharing with schools doesn't work, because there are
actually few hours that school fields are available.

Every local government learns very quickly that when
it sites a public facility, whether a school, park,
landfill, or water processor, it must obtain the land
years in advance. It is beyond my comprehension
how our world-class school system
let itself get into a situation where it needed a new high
school tomorrow but didn't have a site for it. No matter
how you slice it, it was poor planning on their part.

Roses to OWASA and the town for good planning, while rasberries to the school system and Chatham for
their lack thereof. OWASA should stick to its guns.

That article in the paper blew my mind. We have discussions in Orange County about carrying capacity and an unbalanced tax base that puts heavy, heavy pressure on residential taxes to provide for services.

If OWASA has done better than everyone else in planning for water resources, (good for them, and good for us for conserving!) I struggle to see why we wouldn't save our water capacity to bring good growth into our own County borders and have the tax base growth on our side of the line.

While things got better in Chatham in the last election, I imagine that using our water capacity to spur growth outside of Orange County is likely to produce growth that occurs under a level of lower environmental regulation and oversight than if it occurs in Orange County, at least for the time being.

"Every local government learns very quickly that when
it sites a public facility, whether a school, park,
landfill, or water processor, it must obtain the land
years in advance."

You mean planning like Orange County and the towns did for a new landfill?

I don't read anything in this article that says Chatham is asking to purchase water from University Lake or Cane Creek. According to the article they want a partnership with OWASA to build a new reservoir.

I hope OWASA will seriously consider this. OWASA has purchase agreements in place with Hillsborough and Durham (we purchase from them). But I don't believe we agree to sell to anyone.

From the Chapel Hill 2007 Data Book (Community Facilities: Water and Sewer):

"In addition to raw water supply sources, the OWASA system can receive up to 2 MGD of treated water from the Town of Hillsborough and up to 2.5 MGD from the City of Durham. Improvements are currently underway that will increase the capacity of the Durham-OWASA interconnection to 7 MGD. OWASA can purchase this supplemental water when Hillsborough and Durham have adequate supplies available."

The water discussion at Tuesday night's meeting revolved around the fact that OWASA owns a parcel of land near the likely western intake from Jordan Lake. Chatham is interested in developing that intake through an intergovernmental process but there is no specific proposal on the table at this time. Mayor Voller expressed some urgency to get Pittsboro off of Haw River water but, again, he did not have anything specific on the agenda.

This discussion will continue at the Orange County Assembly of Governments meeting next month with a next inter-county meeting presumably to follow shortly thereafter.

In terms of OWASA customers ever using our Jordan Lake allocation, we maintain a significantly higher quality water supply in our own system and have charted growth trends to correspond fairly well with available water supplies. I do not expect we would ever use our Jordan Lake allocation other than in an emergency situation.

More details on tomorrow's event with Lois Gibbs in Saxapahaw from the Center for Health, Environment, and Justice (CHEJ) website:

"CHEJ and the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League are launching an innovative tour in North Carolina. From August 12th to the 20th, CHEJ Executive Director Lois Gibbs and community leaders will be speaking at over fifteen events in 9 cities to highlight the environmental and social injustice of siting up to 6 proposed mega-dump landfills taking out-of-state waste. While calling on policymakers to "Stop the Mega-Dumps" and extend a one year moratorium on such sites, the groups are also advocating the passage of precautionary policies to responsibly address landfill problems with zero waste, recycling and other reforms. "

This tour, with Saxapahaw as one of its stop, is part of CHEJ's BE SAFE campaign:

"BE SAFE promotes precautionary action to protect human health and prevent pollution. The precautionary approach shifts the questions we ask about environmental hazards from "what level of harm is acceptable?" to "how can we prevent harm?" BE SAFE works with hundreds of groups across the country to build a national precautionary movement through advocacy, educational events, organizing and technical support to groups working on local and state precautionary policies, and distributing cutting-edge resources, publications and model precautionary policies."

Just read in the Carrboro Citizen that the school system will be applying for LEED status on the new high school. Any school board members (or other knowledgeable folks) know how much the LEED application process will cost?

The school board voted against paying the fee so the architect is paying it.

Terri, did the architect do it because it was a selling point for their further services? RAM Development didn't seem interested enough in using LEEDs as a promotional tool that they'd pay the freight.

The money spent on certification is better spent on actually doing efficiency improvements instead. Why burn $100k on certification when you can spend it on higher efficiency HVAC for example?? That is truly green thinking.

Yes, Will--according to the school principal, the architect wanted to certification for future marketing. It's a beautiful school. I was impressed by all the elements that I saw on a superficial walkthrough. Unfortunately, there wasn't an engineer around to take me through the ME room so I didn't get to see the airhandling equipment or the controls.

I guess this issue was on this thread once. Did anyone go to hear and/or talk to Lois Gibbs while she was in North Carolina? I was out of town or else I would have gone. Did anyone discuss the OC landfill with her?

A quick heads up. As reported in today's DTH, UNC Healthcare is offering free prostrate cancer screenings today.

Hearing the doctor say "bend over and let me look" is not something I relish but I also understand the necessity. As I've grown older I'm seeing more folks affected by prostrate cancer, a cancer that is quite treatable if detected early.

The screenings are 1-7pm, Sept. 20th (today) and NC Memorial. Check the DTH article for more info.

Will, its PROSTATE.

Oops - make that "it's," but then again, it depends on ...


Too little sleep or maybe I'm visualization of what the exam requires?

Wow, a whole 24 hours without a comment. I reckon I should fix that.

Also: Hey, congrats to the Haw River Assembly for making the Indy List!


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