Ch-scene Digest, Vol 16, Issue 25
ultravioletray at davidbowie.com
Mon Feb 28 00:16:11 EST 2005
First, I offer my apologies to anyone who I offended with my own "knee-jerk" reaction toward the new plans for Downtown Carrboro. Since I have come into the discussion a bit late in the game (and the distance doesn't help), it could seem immature, rash, and a bit uncalled for. My intention was to spout off a little, then give credit to all who have given positive, rational, and reasonable suggestions and discussions for this new development, support to those that have given constructive criticism. To some, the first paragraph just poisoned and erased the rest. Perhaps I should have made myself clearer.
Allow me to explain my vitriol. My family moved to a housing community in southern Durham county called Parkwood in 1984. It's a pretty insular situation, being there are greenways and forests of pine that generally disallow any kind of development in yr own backyard. No chance for a gas station, or a Harris Teeter, or a Wal-Mart looming over you at night. But outside, we watched the pine forests fall. Strip mall here, townhouses there. Fayetteville Road and Hwy 54 were doomed once we saw the potential. Pretty soon, the houses that held a family for thirty years or more were bathed in traffic, noise, and some serious light pollution. They basically had no choice, except to eventually move. Yr typical sprawl situation.
And then one day, I was driving down what was once a back road made of gravel, through the construction of more cardboard housing developments. Around the corner and BAM!, an entire area of dense pines completely razed. Bulldozers galore. The signs of a new development: Southpoint, the mall that would best Crabtree was threatening it's presence. They will come, cried the machines, and in droves.
My first thought: what about the people that live on this road, just on the end of this new commercial excess? Has anyone driven past Southpoint, to where the four/six lanes turn into two? It's like an insult to these poor, unfortunate souls who have been living there for so long, their children, and grandchildren that have visited them, memories that were planted with the grass in the front yard, the swingset in back. Now, they live on the very outskirts of the disease that is about to engulf their homesteads: Development. What chance do they have? Sure they had a voice, but the town and the businesses seemed to care little. There is no buffer there. In a few years, you may see some "For Sale" signs in those yards. May see them, I say, because they probably have already been offered a lump sum for their homes, their land, their memories. And eventually, they'll fold, just like everyone else has, and probably for a steal, because the brokers are all going for the same deal, the same profit. No one can blame them; who the hell would want to live in these conditions?
My vitriol is based on the background of this sprawl, this disease that spreads like wildfire across our country. Yes, I'll agree with you before you begin to argue. This plan is not really pushing people out of their homes. And Main Street Properties has done a good job in allowing the community to become involved in the process for this project. The fact that they are designing spaces specifically for their clients that have become a mainstay in the cultural and economical process of Carrboro exhibits their consideration and understanding of what this move, this change, this development will mean to the community.
But for me, from what I have witnessed, it's the disease. And with that, the change of the livelihood. It can happen for the better, but every time I hear the word development, I cringe. There are obviously far more issues than just the loss of memories and sacredness of peoples homes, and the rights to live as they please. Ross pointed out several strong issues in his posting. These are questions we want answers for.
Character for a town to me doesn't necessarily mean the architecture or the amount of people to me. It's the odd houses, the random shops, the old tree on a corner or the funky sculpture some hippy put in their front yard. The people, the attitude, and variety that allows everyone to contribute to the greater creativity. A development like this, as good natured as it is, tends to flatten and sterilize the character. And where there is one, there is more.
These points I am sure are nothing new; we've seen it everywhere. Everyone here seems to understand the big picture and what our culture has the potential to do to itself and to others.
I do realize the juxtaposition of what a somewhat poseur-satellite-localite has in a newsgroup such as this. But the thing is, I do care. Living in NYC has given me more appreciation for what towns like Chapel Hill and Carrboro have to offer. Not just the quiet and moderately cheaper rent, but the sense of community that naturally exists. NYC is just so darn big, you don't really get that here, which is why I signed onto this newsgroup, which is why I am also part of the "gonna move back to CH/Carrboro when the time comes" consortium. It's a great place to live; I look fondly upon the days spent there, watching families grow and the community work with itself. Sure, I was some poor, rock kid living off McDade for awhile, but I knew what was going on outside the rental I sat in. Anyone who didn't understand really didn't belong there.
Maybe us out-of-towners react so vehemently toward these changes because we miss the old place. All we have is our memories to hold on to, and when the foundations that created them are uprooted, shifted, changed, plowed over, or replaced with something else, we get a little upset. Where is the continuity, is nothing sacred? Or perhaps the city has creeped in and settled in our nerves. The MTA can do that to you. I'd be willing to have some anthropological discussions about this.
But again, I do want to apologize to those who are taking the positive, wiser, more thoughtful road if any offense has been made. It's highly commendable, I look up to those doing so, and learn a great deal from what everyone says, about this topic as well as others (part of the community process, I feel). I would assume (but that would hurt us all, right?) that there was a little knee-jerk reaction in all of us upon first hearing the news; mine was just a bit venomous and landed in a place where it felt comfortable to say what is on yr mind. I look forward to following everyone's opinions here, reading whatever local newsprint I can get my hands on off the net, and gathering the updates when they come. Thank you for posting the links for the plans. That's the kind of thing that makes me glad communities that involve smart and dedicated people like this still exist. Thanks for listening, if you made it this far.
As far as the Kenlan/Garrison/embittered tag, well, perhaps this is a personal issue. One that can be discussed outside this forum if desired, since I'm sure others here don't want to hear about it.
"Forever alive, forever forward."
[ http://www.dAve.hollinghurst.net ]
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