October 2009


Following up on last night’s post Unfunded Liabilities, the presentation finance head Ken Pennoyer made is here [MS Powerpoint].

This graph isn’t only a call-to-arms for Chapel Hill but is reflective of why health care reform is critically needed NOW.

If the Town decides to change its plan in response to the OPEB criteria, the escalating cost of health-care and the inherent risk that at some point Chapel Hill’s taxpayers can no long sustainably “pay as you go”, we still must make sure that the end-result is a comprehensive, competitive, yet fiscally prudent, benefits package to continue to attract and retain topnotch staff.

[X-POSTED from my campaign website]

Tonight was the final Council meeting before the election.

I’ve attended every Council meeting this Fall except the special Friday morning one. I go to quite a few Council meetings in general, so attending this Fall’s during my run for office was not much of a stretch. Penny Rich and Augustus Cho usually show up to catch what’s going on directly (Augustus was there this evening, Penny was participating in UNC Healthcare’s Tickled Pink event to benefit cancer research). Watching the meeting on TV or via the Web is just not quite the same.

Over the last eight years it has been interesting to see which candidates do show up – it seems like you would want to make sure you really want the job given the time commitment, to get up to speed on the relevant issues so you can hit the ground running, to learn a bit more of the nuts-n-bolts of how the Council operates so you can fit into the process fairly quickly – yet cycle after cycle it’s only a few that show.

While the media will probably focus on the Kidzu presentation, the approval moving Glen Lennox’s neighborhood conservation district (NCD) forward, Jim – on election eve – asking the Town to enforce Northside’s NCD (which I talk about in my recent brochure) or Council letting their next incarnation decide on Strom’s replacement, probably the most consequential issue on tonight’s agenda will not get word one.

Ken Pennoyer, the Town’s director of business management, was proposing a change in the structure of staff benefits. All new employees hired after June 30th, 2010 would get a defined benefit plan covering retirement health coverage. Existing employees would retain their Town guaranteed benefit, the payout based on term of service and retirement age.

What’s the big deal?

The existing plan, which is a “pay as you go” approach paid out of general revenues, has increased from $400K to $891k in 5 years – more than doubling our current obligation. To fully fund our commitment to our retired workforce would take $32M to $56M, roughly $3+ M or more per year, for a couple decades!

While the Town has set aside $400K in designated funds over the last two years, the forward obligation makes those contributions pale in comparison. $3-4M per year is equivalent to $0.05 to $0.07 of Chapel Hill’s tax rate – an additional $150 to $210 per year on a $300K home tax bill. This unfunded liability is just one of a number of other obligations – like the $3M affordable housing maintenance fund – which has been allowed to grow and grow over the last 6 years.

Tonight is the first attempt to truly grapple with that overhanging debt to our valued retirees. There are risks inherent in moving new employees to a defined benefit plan but the alternative, scrambling to find funds each fiscal cycle to adequately maintain that obligation, is not sustainable.
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Thanks to Madeline Jefferson, Bob Henshaw, Julie McClintock, Janet Smith, Alan Snavely, Mickey Jo Sorrel and the rest of the membership of Neighborhoods For Responsible Growth (NRG) for both sponsoring the recent Chapel Hill Mayor candidate forum and making the following video available to the wider community.

While Julie did a great job of moving the event along unfortunately the “skip to” feature of this version of the Flash Player doesn’t allow one to move to a later point in the video. The video will start playing and as material is buffered you will be able to move forward.


Upgrade Flash to watch video

Given the time of year and Durham’s recent problems in protecting the Lake Jordan watershed, the fiscal impact of mitigating damage which might well be shared by Chapel Hill’s taxpayers, I was tempted to title this post “Trick or Treat on NC54?”

Even if the “development process is broken in Durham”, as LaDawnna Summers, who resigned from Durham’s Planning Commission over the Lake Jordan mess, it is important that both Chapel Hill’s elected folks and greater community engage directly in the NC54/I-40 corridor planning process.

Thirty years ago, when I first came to Chapel Hill, I drove into town on the scenic two-lane NC54 (I-40 from RDU on was still a set of dotted lines on a map). The beautiful pastured hills to the north are now covered by Meadowmont. The woods and vales to the south, by the Friday Center and office parks. And the majestic hill-side entry to the University? Now obscured by the “anywhere USA belt-line architecture” of the road hugging East54.

The process starts Wednesday, Nov. 18th, 2009 from 5pm to 8pm at the Friday Center [MAP]

What: NC-54/I-40 Corridor Study Public Workshop #1
Who: Durham-Chapel Hill-Carrboro Metropolitan Planning Organization (DCHC MPO), City of Durham, Durham County, and the Town of Chapel Hill
When: Wednesday, November 18, 2009, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Where: William and Ida Friday Center for Continuing Education
100 Friday Center Drive Chapel Hill, N.C. 27599-1020

Fast Facts:

  • The Durham-Chapel Hill-Carrboro Metropolitan Planning Organization (DCHC MPO) will host an interactive community workshop on November 18 to obtain guidance on developing a blueprint for mobility and development in the NC-54/I-40 corridor, a critical gateway linking the City of Durham, Town of Chapel Hill, and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
  • The NC-54/I-40 corridor serves as one of the major gateways between Chapel Hill and southwest Durham, with its interchange with I-40 consistently ranking as the top congested location in the region. Development pressures within the corridor coupled with mobility and capacity issues have highlighted that the existing and planned transportation infrastructure is insufficient to accommodate growth and address land use and transportation problems.
  • To develop land use and transportation strategies to preserve this important corridor, the DCHC MPO, the City of Durham, Durham County, and the Town of Chapel Hill have begun a corridor study to analyze short- and long-term land use issues and multi-modal transportation problems, evaluate opportunities and challenges, and recommend short- and long-range land use and transportation solutions and strategies along the corridor.
  • The vision of the DCHC MPO is to develop and implement transportation plans that are multimodal and that fully integrate land use and transportation issues. To achieve this vision this study will:

    • Clearly define a realistic “blueprint” for an integrated growth and mobility strategy for the corridor;
    • Establish a development framework that strengthens multimodal travel options and reduces vehicle miles of travel;
    • Improve operations, safety, and travel time; and
    • Categorize strategies into near, mid-term, and long-term phases.
  • A critical component of this study is public outreach and involvement. Three public
    workshops will be held as a part of this study, which should be completed in June 2010.

    • The first public workshop on November 18 will present the community profile and
      solicit input on issues, opportunities, and trends to guide the development of future
      scenarios.
    • The second public workshop, tentatively scheduled for late winter 2010, will evaluate
      alternatives and seek public input in the selection of the preferred scenario.
    • The third workshop, tentatively scheduled for spring 2010, will give participants an opportunity to review and refine the corridor master plan and provide input on setting priorities for multimodal transportation and land use strategies, implementation strategies, and phasing.
  • Once the study is finished, the final master plan will be presented to the local and regional
    policy boards and used to inform transportation/traffic analysis, land use decisions, project
    planning, and funding priorities.

    • The total cost for the study is $257,432 with 80 percent of the funding coming from federal transportation planning funds and the remaining 20 percent funded jointly by the City of Durham, Durham County, and the Town of Chapel Hill.
    • Residents interested in joining a group of citizen contacts for this study should contact Leta Huntsinger with the DCHC MPO at (919) 560-4366 ext. 30423 or via email at leta.huntsinger@durhamnc.gov. For more information about this study, visit www.nc54-I40corridorstudy.com .

More on Summers’ resignation:

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[X-Posted from WillRaymond.org]

After 17 formal forums, neighborhood meetings, community picnics and other organized opportunities for candidates to meet and engage with our wider community, we ended this evening in the midst of community.

Tonight I witnessed the birth Orange County Justice United, a new umbrella organization comprised of 25 local advocacy, service and faith-based groups who are working together to improve the quality of life for all our town and county residents.

As part of that process, the new organization asked each of the Council candidates that attended to pledge to meet within 90 days to discuss a breadth of issues, including remedying the problems found during a recent census of the Northside/Pine Knolls communities (Orange County Justice United Northside/Pine Knolls Census).

While I applaud the formation of an organization dedicated to community service, I wish, as I said this evening to the 450+ assembled activists, they had organized a bit earlier in the campaign cycle in order to encourage a wider discussion of the challenges facing our people.

Simply put, this year’s focus has been more on houses than homes, more on begging hands than offering a hand up.

That said, tonight’s event was the best possible way I can imagine to finish this phase of the campaign.

Thank you Justice United for inviting me to participate.

What’s left then? Organizing folks to hand out materials election day (volunteer here), raise a few more hundred dollars (contribute here) and continue to work to get the message out that a vote for Raymond is a vote for beneficial change.

According to this WCHL 1360 story Downtown’s Varsity will reopen in November.

The Varsity’ new website VarsityOnFranklin.com advertises all seats are $3 for “recently released and classic movies with excellent service and a customer focused staff to create an enjoyable movie experience at a discounted price.”

I’ve seen hundreds of movies at the Varsity over the last few decades and am happy, both as a customer and someone interested in enhancing Downtown’s vibrancy, that the Varsity is returning.

Quick question, “What is more expensive? A night at the movies – popcorn and all – or the cost of parking in the Town’s lots during the movie?”

Until Council starts rolling out the core recommendations of the Downtown Parking Task Force, of which I was a member, it seems like a venue that is targeted at providing a reasonably priced evening’s entertainment will have difficulty making that value proposition.

According to today’s Chapel Hill News (IFC may delay new shelter), the Inter-Faith Council is looking at a delay while the questions raised by local residents over the last few weeks are resolved.

Inter-Faith Council director Chris Moran said the agency may delay its development permit application amid neighbors’ opposition to a new men’s homeless shelter on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard at Homestead Road.

Despite support from United Church of Chapel Hill, which is adjacent to the site, Moran faced a throng of red-clad protesters as the Town Council reviewed IFC’s concept plan for a 50-bed shelter last week. These neighbors anticipated homeless men loitering, panhandling or causing other mischief around their homes, schools and Homestead Park — basically, the same complaint some downtown merchants and visitors have expressed about the street people downtown.

The council challenged IFC to address these concerns and explain how the agency chose the Homestead site. For example, IFC is seeking detailed crime data from the police department for its Rosemary Street shelter.

That sort of research could disrupt IFC’s initial plan to gain a permit about a year from now and open the doors in January 2012.

“We will probably delay the special-use-permit process,” said Moran. “It would be disrespectful for us to file for an SUP permit if these questions haven’t been answered.”

I asked Police Chief Curran a couple weeks ago for some of the required statistics (here).

I’ve read every email forwarded to the candidates on this issue with an eye towards publishing those questions for inspection by the wider community.

Luckily, Tina Coyne-Smith, one of the concerned citizens that has taken a lead on this issue, prepared a detailed assessment of the neighborhoods’ issues for her presentation to Council last week.

She has also graciously provided a copy (here [PDF]) so that the public, the IFC and other stakeholders can review and respond in a fact-based manner.

The three categories of concerns driving opposition are:

  1. Proximity of the shelter to a park, residential neighborhoods, and daycares, afterschool programs, and schools
  2. Unintended consequences of the shelter that raise safety concerns
  3. Inequitable distribution of human services in NW Chapel Hill incurred by placing the shelter at the proposed site

A few of the underlying issues raised have been answered by Chris Moran in the FAQ he provided earlier here (Q&A IFC Community House).

I also recently asked the Town’s Attorney Ralph Karpinos if the IFC, in cooperation with the police, could rule out who on the list of incidents was not a shelter resident. Anecdotal evidence indicates that folks report their address as the shelter even when they aren’t clients. He responded that this was a question for the IFC.

While I believe there is value in sharpening up the statistics, I also want to protect the privacy of those that IFC serves. Any method the Town uses to get a better grasp of the scope of this potential problem must honor folks right to privacy.

Whatever the outcome of the current discussion, the process used must be transparent, fact-based and use a decision-making framework that incorporates the requirements of the IFC, community-based criteria (as with the waste transfer site selection), the Town’s legal and developmental guidelines along with a strong dose of common sense.

Given the respectful tone established by Tina, Chris and many of the other folks that spoke last Monday, I believe that our community can not only reach a consensus on this particular issue without bitterness but also take this opportunity to work even harder on addressing the problems driving and accompanying homelessness in our local community.

I first met Rev. Robert Campbell, an incredibly dedicated advocate for the Rogers/Millhouse community, over 8 years ago. At the time I was attending one of my first Council meetings.

Fred Battle, Robert Campbell, Yonni Chapman
Yonni’s Picassa, Aug. 28th, 2009, Peace and Justice Commemoration

Fred Battle, then President of the local NAACP (and member of the Hank Anderson Breakfast Club), had presented a compelling case for extending sewer and water to the Rogers Road community on the basis of promises made by Chapel Hill’s Mayor Lee decades before. The community had been told that if they accepted the landfills, the County and the Town would provide mitigations, including proper sanitation and potable water, to offset those burdens.

I was moved by Fred’s and Robert’s words that evening, wished I could lend a helping hand. I introduced myself, apologized that as a longtime resident and part of the problem I had not known of their plight and done more to help. Luckily I’ve since had an opportunity to make amends.

The last 4 years Robert, Neloa Jones and many of other other folks working to lift the burden off of this community have set an example that I strive to follow. It is a true welcoming gift that they’ve invited my service on their behalf.

Unfortunately, eight years on, we are still dealing with some of the same issues. The Council this Spring pledged to form a working group to resolve this long owed debt but that pledge, like Mayor Lee’s of decades ago and Mayor Foy’s of this Spring, remains unkept.

Robert wrote this stirring endorsement of my candidacy which appeared in the Chapel Hill Herald and at the IndyWeek.

Thank you Robert for the very kind words:

Raymond has vision; is the voice town needs

Will Raymond is a person that knows the issues and the effect it has on policies making in local government. Will has been and still will advocate for social and environmental justice. Will is one who sees the importance of citizens’ voices and will be the voice of those that are not at the table where decisions are made that affect them.

We are at a critical point in planning for our future of our town. Construction will soon begin in a Chapel Hill planning district, a waste transfer station is part of the development which must be addressed. Will Raymond knows our roads, schools, housing and right to basic amenities will be on the minds of citizens.

Local and political education, accountability, honesty and democracy are the keys to transparency in government. A vote for Will Raymond is a vote for Green initiative and sustainability. We need new vision on the town board. Make the right decision and vote for Will Raymond, a man that sees from within and not from without, one who has been at the meeting and has seen and heard the voice of the people.

I, Robert Campbell, call for all friends, family members, church members, citizens and veterans to vote for community service and experience. Vote for Will Raymond.

Robert Campbell
Chapel Hill

Yonni Chapman, local historian, stalwart civil rights activist, documenter of Chapel Hill’s struggles for peace, justice and equality, after a long struggle with cancer, has passed on.

I last saw Yonni Aug. 28th at the commemoration of Chapel Hill’s new Peace and Justice Plaza. We talked awhile about the possible Board of Commissioner’s decision to site the new trash transfer facility in the Millhouse/Rogers Road community.

Yonni Chapman, KeithEdwards, Al McSurely
Yonni’s Picassa, Aug. 28th, 2009, Peace and Justice Commemoration

Fighting for consideration of social justice in the decision-making process of siting the transfer facility was just one of many local issues that Yonni helped our community address. He reminded us of the historical context, stressed that we cannot move forward if we forget where we’ve been.

From Yonni’s on-line profile

Privileged white child of the sixties. Became a revolutionary in 1969 at Harvard. Moved to Atlanta to do social justice organizing. Attended Atlanta Area Tech and became a Certified Laboratory Technician. Moved to Chapel Hill area. Worked in Hematology at UNC Memorial Hospital. Chair of Employees Forum. Did grassroots organizing in Chapel Hill with Welfare Rights Organization, CH Tenants Organization, hospital and university workers, Rainbow Coalition of Conscience, Jesse Jackson Campaign, Fred Battle Campaign for School Board, African Liberation Support Committee, Medical Aid for Southern Africa, Central America solidarity campaigns, anti-Apartheid movement, etc. Attended graduate school at UNC in history. Thesis, 1995, Second Generation: Black Youth and the Origins of the Chapel Hill Civil Rights Movement, 1937-1963. Dissertation, 2006, Black Freedom and the University of North Carolina, 1793-1960. Expert Witness for UNC Housekeepers Movement lawsuit; organized campaign to abolish Cornelia Phillips Spencer Bell Award at UNC; UNC Campaign for Historical Accuracy and Truth (CHAT); NAACP/Community Church movement to establish a state highway marker to commemorate the 1947 Journey of Reconciliation in Chapel Hill; Town of Chapel Hill/NAACP commemoration of nine local leaders at Peace and Justice Plaza. Member of Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF). Second Vice Chair, Chapel Hill-Carrboro NAACP and Chair of History Committee. Cancer survivor. Proud father of Sandra and Joyce. Eagerly expectant grandpa.

After seeing the range of concerns and responses thoughtfully expressed during last night’s citizen presentations, I’m more confident than ever that our community can pull together, find common ground and work to settle on a permanent home for the IFC Men’s Shelter.

I’m going to continue to post as much material as I can so that there’s another resource that citizens can use to research this issue. Tina Coyne-Smith is sending me her presentation which clearly and succinctly laid out reservations about the Homestead site. I’ll post that soon.

Two long stalwarts of the IFC program, Pastors Robert Seymour (Robert Seymour: UNC HealthCare Ombudsman?) and Richard Edens, both gave compelling and compassionate reasons for siting Community House on Homestead.

Below are Richard’s remarks to Council:

Mayor Foy, Council Members and Fellow Citizens,

I am Richard Edens. For thirty years, I have served with my wife Jill, as co-pastor of United Church of Chapel Hill which is the adjacent property to the proposed location for Community House. We live in the North Forest Hills community on Stateside Drive. I am an almost-daily, early morning, runner through Homestead Park and the Parkside neighborhood. I am also a member of the Inter-Faith Council Board of Directors.

First, I would like to invite fellow supporters of the plan to relocate Community House to stand: colleagues in the clergy and congregational leaders (Mark Acuff – Gathering Church, Bob Dunham – University Presbyterian Church, Jill Edens – United Church of Chapel Hill, Stephen Elkins-Williams – Chapel of the Cross, Rebecca McCulloh – Chapel Hill Christian Church, Robert Seymour – Pastor Emertius, Binkley Baptist, Susan Steinberg — United Church of Chapel Hill, Isaac Villegas – Chapel Hill Mennonite Church; Peter Carman of Binkley and Carl King from University UMC send their regrets) , supportive congregational members, IFC supporters. We rise in support of the partnership of the Town of Chapel Hill, the University of North Carolina and the Inter-Faith Council which resolved a five-year process initiated by the Mayor’s Taskforce to find a new location for the shelter.**

The good news is that we are not here to discuss whether Community House should exist or the need for safe space as people undertake the transformation from homelessness to independence.

We do not believe that having a safe space for children to grow up or for the public to use the park is mutually exclusive with having a safe space for people at a vulnerable time in life engage in this transformation from homelessness to independence. The movement towards independent living whether it is that of a child or any person having to refashion a life requires safe space, sheltered space, for that transformation to occur.

Many of us who have gotten to know the people in the Community House program know them as persons, not statistics or numbers or probabilities or projections. Thus our familiarity with them makes them like family and we are seeking a safe place for our family to grow from a state of dependence to independence.

Community House is a way station on the journey from homelessness to health and independence. It is not a place that shelters the homeless as they remain homeless and neither is it a place to call home where as Robert Frost reminds us, *“when you have to go there, they have to take you in.”* Upon entering the Community House program, a resident is no longer homeless. Their stay, however, at Community House is contingent – contingent on health, on effort, on contributing towards the movement from homelessness to independence.

The journey from being homeless to being at home is fraught with *“many dangers, toils and snares,”* to quote an old hymn. Few people find themselves homeless for one reason alone so it can be a long journey home. As anyone who has ever dieted or tried to stop smoking, it is rarely achieved the first time you try.

Bob Seymour and I ran into each other last week and could not help reminiscing that we were before Town Council almost 25 years ago locating Community House downtown. I always looked upon its location in the center of our community as an indication of this community’s heart – the original safe space. Twenty-five years later, the Town of Chapel Hill has expanded and the downtown is no longer the only center of our community. We move easily from downtown to Southern Village to University Mall to Meadowmont to Carolina North. As Chapel Hill has expanded so has our heart – and the safe spaces our community requires for the health and transformation of all its citizens.

We, clergy and congregational leaders from participating IFC congregations, encourage you to continue the work you initiated through your partnership with the University of North Carolina and the Inter-Faith Council to provide a place in our community for the transformation of all our citizens towards as independent and abundant a life as possible.

I am also here as one of the pastors of the closest property to the proposed location of Community House. We are a community of some 850 adults and several hundred youth and children. On weekdays we have 60 preschoolers in our education space. United Church of Chapel Hill welcomes the relocation of Community House because:

(1) Community House is in alignment with our faith that welcomes the stranger and sojourner, that seeks to increase the love of neighbor and love of God. Or as book of Proverbs instructs, *Remember what your mother taught you: “speak out for those who cannot speak, for the rights of the destitute. Speak out, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy.”

(2) United Church of Chapel Hill is in covenant with 50 some other congregations seeking the community’s good through the Inter-Faith Council and its programs.

(3) The 24 year history of Community House is time-tested and is positive.

(4) When United Church was located on Cameron Ave, the Inter-Faith Council operated out of a house on Wilson Street which backed up to the playground of our church school and that of the Chapel Hill Daycare Center. Community House had its origin on the floor of the Fellowship Hall prior to the move into the Old Municipal Building. We lived together with people and families seeking assistance over 25 years without incident in a downtown historic district neighborhood.

Our familiarity with the IFC, Community House and those seeking assistance through Community House has not made us fearful. Our hope and prayer is that Community House will continue to restore people to health, to independence and to life in community. Our hope and prayer for our community is that we find that creating spaces for growth and change of differing populations are not mutually exclusive but the goal of healthy communities.

Chapel Hill’s best self has always acted with a generous and expansive heart. As Olympia Snowe said recently, “History is calling.” History is calling. Continue the tradition of living into our best self. Expand the heart of Chapel Hill. Thank you.

Richard Edens,
United Church of Chapel Hill

I have read over 100 emails detailing concerns around moving the IFC’s Men’s Shelter to Homestead Rd. Not all emails have been positive, many have very good questions that need to be laid to rest. I’m working on another post that condenses and highlights those specific neighborhood concerns.

Here’s a letter in support of the facility from Peggy Yonuschot:

Dear Mayor Foy and Members of the Town Council:

I write in support of the Inter-Faith Council for Social Service (IFC) with respect to the proposed location of the men’s residential facility at 1315 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. I also write in response to some of the fear and hateful rhetoric about people who are homeless that has been expressed by some of my neighbors to the Town Council as well as posted around my neighborhood at mailbox locations and the Tot Lot.

My home is in the Vineyard Square neighborhood, adjacent to Homestead Park. I live within walking distance to Project Homestart (the IFC facility for women and children who are homeless), Freedom House Recovery Center and the Seymour Senior Center as well as Homestead Park playground, playing fields and aquatic center. I have a young son and we walk to swim lessons, soccer practice and the swingset several times a week. I have experienced no adverse or negative impact as a result of living in close vicinity to any of the human services providers operating nearby. I do not view the proposed location of the men’s residential facility as a threat to my family’s safety.

The shelter has to go somewhere. It is my understanding that the proposed location was chosen after an extensive search by Town of Chapel Hill staff and in consult with myriad community partners. If IFC, their community partners and other entities with the expertise and experience needed to work effectively with people who are homeless believe that this is the best possible location for this facility in our town, then we should support them.

I have every confidence that the IFC will continue to work with community partners and surrounding neighborhoods to mitigate any potential negative impact. I have every confidence that the Chapel Hill Police Department will continue to enforce existing town ordinances and other regulations that address some of the real concerns that have been expressed about locating the shelter near a park. It is my hope that you will not allow misunderstanding and fear to derail the presence of a well-managed shelter in Chapel Hill, which is a benefit to the entire community as well as individuals who are homeless.

The individuals who are contacting you to express fear and hateful rhetoric do not speak for me or my family or all of our neighbors. I invite my neighbors who are gathering to speak against the IFC and the proposed site of the men’s residential facility to consider how they might feel if it were their son, brother or father who was without resource and in need of shelter. I believe that it is by grace that it is not me or my loved one currently in need. I am grateful to the IFC for providing an absolutely critical array of services in offer of assistance to those families and individuals who are homeless or at-risk of homelessness.

Sincerely,

Peggy Yonuschot

Big thanks to the Anderson-Thorpe Breakfast Club for endorsing my candidacy for Town Council. More on my campaign website.

Beginning to get some of the crime statistics I requested 11 days ago.

I had asked for crime statistics going back 1 year covering Parkside, Northwoods, Vineyard (Weaver Dairy Ext.) and other neighborhoods around the proposed Homestead Rd. IFC men’s shelter. Unfortunately, since I’m not a Council member (as yet) but only a citizen, a bit of patience is required.

Until I get more data, here’s what Roger Stancil, the Town’s manager, has released so far:

…number of incidents involving Freedom House, located on New Stateside Drive…According to our records, there were no individuals arrested using the Freedom House as their home address. It is possible that if there were residents of the Freedom House arrested, they gave officers their permanent addresses, much like students do. Below are some statistics our Police Records Division put together regarding incidents in the New Parkside area that were generated for a recent Community Watch meeting.

Type of Call Jan-Dec 2007 Jan-Dec 2008 Jan- present 2009
Robbery 1 0 2
Aggravated_Assault 0 2 4
Break_&_Enter_Residence 4 6 6
Break_&_Enter_Vehicles 5 18 11
Other_Larcenies 3 5 1
Vehicle_Thefts 0 1 1
Simple_Assaults 3 4 8
Vandalism/Damage_to_Property 5 1 3
Disturbance_calls 14 6 18
All_other_calls 31 62 37
Total_Calls 66 105 91

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Big thank you to all the volunteers, including many, many UNC students who turned out this morning to help Orange County Justice United do a survey of the Northside and Pine Knolls areas in order to:

  • Position community priorities in the public eye,
  • Build relationships and get support for their social justice agenda by residents and institutions in the Northside neighborhood
  • Document housing issues and community infrastructure in disrepair

Orange County Justice United

is a broad-based, multi-racial, multi-faith, multi-issue, strictly non-partisan citizens’ power organization dedicated to making change on social justice issues (affordable housing, healthcare, education, living wages) affecting the lives of low- and middle-income residents in Orange County.

The organization is partnered with 30+ local churches and social support institutions in promoting their agenda.

Also, thanks to Delores Bailey and Empowerment for providing facilities and logistical support for today’s effort.

There are a lot of questions (and comments) about the potential relocation of the IFC Men’s Shelter to the corner of Homestead Rd. [MAP].

At last night’s WCHL 1360 candidate forum [MP3] I talked about how, if elected to Council, I would use an approach like the one I helped develop for siting the new Orange County trash transfer station; in conjunction with the community, staff, the IFC and technical experts develop objective, measurable, community and technically based criteria to apply to site approval that complements the Town’s existing planning process.

Using a facts based approach should help the community focus on the relevant issues, create a framework for discussion of issues that by their nature are necessarily subjective and reduce some of the tension that has arisen from misinformation (some of which continues to be promulgated).

Along those lines, I have requested crime statistics for the Homestead area for the last year, as many of the emails candidates and Council are receiving refer to incidents I wasn’t aware of (not reported in the press, by staff to Council, etc.). Based on these citizen emails, it appears that this area is already having difficulties that are not being adequately addressed.

Until I get the statistics, here’s a great tool that the Daily Tar Heel’s Sara Gregory developed for visualizing incidents.

In addition to the questions and answers the IFC’s Chris Moran provided earlier, Chris has also provided the following time-line, including proposed expansion and relocation of needed services, to the community to set the context for discussion:

  1. The Inter-Faith Council (IFC) has enjoyed a strong partnership with the Town of Chapel Hill for 24 years through the use of the Old Municipal Building (OMB) to house current Community House operations (residential facility and the Community Kitchen);
  2. Project Homestart, a HUD/Orange County sponsored transitional housing program for homeless families, officially opened in April 1998 on the Southern Human Services Center campus in Chapel Hill;
  3. In 1999, Chapel Hill Mayor, Rosemary Waldorf organized an IFC Relocation Taskforce;
  4. Since 1999, the IFC, the Town of Chapel Hill and partner agencies have been searching for a permanent location for our men’s facility without success;
  5. In 2003, HUD funding ended for Project Homestart; a community planning group announced a reorganized HomeStart plan for homeless women and children; and single women residents moved from the OMB to HomeStart campus;
  6. In January 2004, the Mayor of Chapel Hill and the President of the IFC co-convened a community process to address homelessness and new facilities;
  7. IFC/Town 2004 goals included:

    • creating a comprehensive food program in the IFC’s Carrboro building to offer a wide range of support services in partnership with other agencies for hungry persons and those at risk of homelessness
    • identifying a new site for Community House and moving to a more suitable facility
  8. Another IFC/Inter-Governmental Work Group was formed in 2006 to find new locations for IFC facilities including a request for county land at the Southern Human Services Center;
  9. On May 5, 2008 former Chancellor James Moeser and Mayor Kevin Foy announced a new partnership and gift of land for relocating Community House to MLK Blvd.;
  10. Moving forward, the partnership will be even stronger as it includes UNC participation and support;
  11. The land (50-year lease for Community House operations) will allow IFC to have a facility that will be better suited to meet resident needs;
  12. While close to the Orange County Southern Human Services Center and accessible to a major bus line, the location also provides a private setting where 50 men can enlist in a program that will restore health, well-being, learning skills, confidence and opportunities for independence;
  13. This new program will allow formerly homeless men to become productive members of the community;
  14. In the absence of finding a suitable location for the Community Kitchen, the IFC intends to consolidate its food programs (named FoodFirst) for member households at its 110 West Main Street facility in Carrboro unless a more desirable location is found;
  15. The IFC, local congregations and our various partners request that the Chapel Hill Town Council move forward with the Special Use Permit process and next steps to make Community House’s relocation a reality for the men that look to the IFC for support and new opportunities for regaining their independence. They’ve waited long enough!

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