Carolina North: Evans Conducting an Intellectual Exercise?

“the book says, we might be through with the past, but the past ain’t through with us.”

Dr. Bergen Evans, The Natural History of Nonsense as bowdlerdized in the fantastic movie Magnolia

UNC’s current Moeser administration likes to announce major modifications to their developmental plans and strategies either in the deep doldrums of summer or the chilly recesses of winter. True to form, the administration and Board of Trustees modified their stance on the current collaborative process, embodied by the UNC Leadership Advisory Committee, while our community took their summer break

Starting out at May 26th’s board meeting, a couple UNC-CH Trustees unleashed a few impolitic bon mots:

“I think what the town should interpret out of that is there is a very strong sense of urgency about Carolina North and it is time to deal with Carolina North..The time for talking about it and trying to build consensus is coming to an end.

Trustee and local developer Roger Perry, N&O, May 26th, 2006

This precipitous expression of irritation from local land baron Perry came after just a handful of LAC meetings. Trying to avoid the same kind of historical missteps UNC has made with previous community outreach efforts, the LAC spent those meetings establishing groundrules, process and goals. Luckily the talk continued. As of today (Aug. 20th), the LAC, after relevant discussions, has accepted a number of key principles created by Chapel Hill’s recently disbanded Horace-Williams Citizens Committee (of which I was a member – of which I believe had much more work to perform).

“I believe the voices that choose to be the greatest obstacles to this at the moment will be the voices that have the least impact, in the end, I believe it will be taken from our hands at some point by the leadership of this state.”

Trustee Rusty Carter, Herald Sun, May 26th, 2006

Carter’s remark echoes Senator Tony Rand’s 2001 threat to remove Chapel Hill’s zoning authority over the University. Beyond zoning, the town has very limited means to corral University developmental malfeasance. Even with it, the town could barely mitigate travesties like UNC’s encroachments upon the Mason Farm Road neighborhoods.

“It is our intention to move forward with the momentum of Carolina North…We would like to see this committee be a very active part of it, but if they choose to spend the next year not arriving at any definitive parameters, we are going to continue our momentum. That’s not out of any sense of animosity; it’s out of a sense of practicality and obligation.”

Trustee Rusty Carter, June 1st, 2006 Daily Tar Heel

What’s missing, for Carter and some of his fellow trustees, it appears is BIG MO! Wasn’t BIG MO coined to describe the momentum football teams need to build up to crush their opponents?

Chancellor Moeser recently appointed Dean Jack Evans, husband of 10-year veteran council member Pat Evans, to a two-year, $208,210 per year, position as “quarterback” to drive the Carolina North project forward:

“What we need, and what we have in Jack Evans is a quarterback, someone who will be calling the signals, actually planning and coordinating the planning of all of our team — leading that team to make sure that this project continues to move forward,” Moeser said today.

Chancellor Moeser, N&O July 27, 2006

With the selection of his new quarterback Moeser signalled a change of strategy.

Two teams now: offense – heavyweight UNC and defense – the local, as Moeser says, “wary” community.
Evans, former Dean of UNC’s Kenan-Flagler business-plex – current representative to the NCAA/ACC, will earn his pay pushing for completion of a project whose underpinnings and goals are suspect.

And he’ll be hellbent to do it.

“Whether or not it’s Jack Evans in this role or somebody else, there is a role for someone to state the urgency and importance of this…”

Evans, Chapel Hill News, Aug. 16th, 2006

I understand the importance, the Mayor and Council understand the importance, the folks “wary” of the direction of this project, all of us, understand the importance of this project.

Many of us will be living with and, as NC taxpayers, paying for, the consequences of Evans’ two years of quarterbacking for decades to come. Our concern is not born of ignorance of the project’s greater importance to the wider fortunes of our State but of a healthy respect for the adage that “Haste makes waste” and the waste it will make is of our cherished town.

Time to put away the plaintive wail that the citizens of our communities DO NOT UNDERSTAND THE IMPORTANCE of the Carolina North project. This continued claim, quite frankly, is pure-T, grade-A horse shit.

What does Evans think of the current process? Last May he suggested the strong possibility that the effort will end up accomplishing nada:

Evans said he saw two possible scenarios from what Strom was saying. In the first, the committee reviews the list of principles to find those principles on which there is disagreement. After discussion of those disagreements, the committee will find those areas that may not be able to be reconciled, if there are any. Under the second scenario, the committee would merely identify those areas of disagreement without attempting to remedy them. “I hope that is not what we are doing,” Evans said. If that is the case, he said, the committee would merely be conducting an “intellectual exercise” without any real promise of accomplishing anything.

Dean Jack Evans, UNC Gazette, May 06, 2006

The town’s representatives and the Mayor has always made it clear that their participation was not a negotiation but a dialogue (more like multi-logue considering the 4 sets of representatives). Unfortunately, it looks like the LAC’s efforts are being superseded by the new “offense”.

Is it going to be “50 yards to the goal line – hard-charging Jack, his band of trusty trustees, pressing forward – crushing the weak defense”? Hard to say.

Beyond what happened over the summer, there’s Evans’ recent letters and this week’s LAC meeting (August 24, 2006, at 4 p.m. in the Redbud Room of the Friday Center) to help deconstruct Moeser’s tenor.

I’m also trying to wrap my head around Evans’ claim that “the space crunch on the main campus means Carolina North will have to accommodate academic needs.” (Whoa there Trigger! Moeser has always emphasized research and living only, discounting academic usage – which made some sense considering the nearly incredible [and expensive] increase in space on Main Campus since he became Chancellor).

Over the next week, I’ll be ‘blogging a series on CarolinaNorth: Evans’ New Principles, Specifications, Outcomes in an effort to understand and predict UNC’s future directions.

If you can’t wait or wish to do your own analysis, here’s some primary source material:


Evans’ “counter-offer” is a reflection of the proposals on the table – proposals based on the guidelines developed by the Horace-William’s Citizens group (of which I was member). The principles and a schematic chronology of their development is here. (Thanks for the tip Barnes).


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