Sunrise... Sunset...

Live from Chapel Hill Town Hall... I came here tonight hoping to make my predictable comments about OI-4 (briefly: "it stinks") and then run over to the Cat's Cradle to see some creative, noncommercial films at Flicker.

I didn't realize I would have to wait through the "Sunrise Coalition." (Remember Doug Schworer? He's baaack.) White people are out in force to oppose the construction of non-luxury homes (for families making 50-80% of area median income) kind of near their well-manicured cul-de-sacs. Actually, about three backyards are adjacent, but it's probably at least a mile by car.

They won't fail to remind us that they're not opposed to affordable housing, just that evil "density." Oh and they're all environmentalists now too. Wonder how many of their SUVs are in the parking lot right now?

You Gotta Have Faith

Last week I rounded the corner of McCauley and Merrit Mill as I have a million times before. But this time my mouth gaped open in suprise. It wasn't just the radical clearcut of what used to be Cam Hill's funky little nest. I think it was the crane that seemed to be hungrily eating the last bit of the structure left on the property. Even though I knew it was coming for at least a year, I was shocked to see this acre of mud replace what was once an attractive corner of town. It's all the more tragic because I know what's coming: a parking lot.

I strongly suggest that you take a drive by that corner now and see what's there. This is an object lesson in town-gown relations for two reasons:

1. It demonstrates University priorities. They pressured local homeowners until they gave up their property, then UNC demolished this block of modest homes and nice shade trees to lay out a slab of concrete for parking. Houses like these on the west end of Cameron Street are exactly what the town needs more of to meet the needs of the increasing number of students and young families joining our community.

The Big Bust of 2004

Well I didn't get a chance to join my neighbors in Northside for a night out last night, but I have walked many times past the notorious crack house on Nunn Street. My neighbors attest that this has been a known place of dealing for over 10 years. And it doesn't take an expert to see it - young men commonly stand in the middle of the street, approach slowing cars, exchange bags and bills in broad daylight.

Police got so desperate about the situation last April that they arrested the wheelchair-bound woman who lived there. She was basically trading her home for some minimal elder care from the dealers and their friends. This is not an unusual arrangement around here. I'm told by some neighbors that she recently took a turn for the worse, and her family put her into a rest home.

"Putting Lipstick on a Pig?"

UNC has been promising for years now to build more student dormitories. Until recently, there had been no new dorms built since the 70's even though enrollment grows every year. The result of this has been more and more students living off-campus, which has lead increasing housing prices as groups of students push working families out of affordable in-town neighborhoods.

With the new Campus Master Plan, UNC has finally begun to construct more housing for students. But lest we breathe a sigh of relief, some members of the UNC Board of Trustees are now proposing to demolish the biggest dorms on campus!

UNC-Chapel Hill's four high-rise dormitories have long been derided as the ugly ducklings of the picturesque campus.

Caring for Northside's elderly can help stop drug abuse

The Northside neighborhood of Chapel Hill is a beautiful place. Many of its residents are now spending their twilight years in the community they helped build. Unfortunately instead of living without worry they have fallen prey to drug users and dealers.

Last week, the Chapel Hill Herald wrote that an 88-year-old woman was arrested for "maintaining a dwelling to keep or sell controlled substances." I can see her porch on Nunn Street from mine on Sunset Drive. She lives near the peninsula of land at the intersection Graham, Whitaker, Sykes, and Nunn Streets which is the heart of the crack trade here in Northside.

[She] is wheelchair-bound and lives in the home, which police say often has been the center of drug sales in the Northside neighborhood. � "[She] was charged after several incidents involving narcotics occurred at her property," [Police Chief] Jarvies said.



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