CHAPEL HILL Town Councilman Lee Storrow wants residents to join him for a series of Town Hall-style conversations over the next three weeks.
The four-part series, which starts at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 25, is aimed at generating discussion about critical community issues. He chose the topics because they are also important to him, he said.
“As a public servant, I want to create opportunities for residents to engage with local government and play an active role in shaping the future of our community,” he said in a news release. “I hope folks come to the Town Hall events with an open mind and ideas for how we can build a more vibrant, livable community in Chapel Hill.”
Storrow has been holding informal listening sessions with residents for a few years now, sometimes joined by Carrboro Alderwoman Michelle Johnson and former Chapel Hill-Carrboro School Board member Mia Burroughs, who is now a county commissioner.
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Those gatherings are helpful for multiple reasons, Storrow said, especially as he tries to understand the school board or another local government’s perspective on an issue. People also tend to be more comfortable in neutral settings, such as the library, he said.
“You can have a better conversation with people in informal gatherings than you can have in council meetings some times,” Storrow said.
He expects business owners and leaders from the Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership to bring different perspectives to Wednesday’s meeting at DSI Comedy, 462 W. Franklin St., and offer feedback about the future of downtown Chapel Hill.
The nonprofit Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership is a booster group established by the town and funded through town taxes, UNC contributions and a downtown service district tax.
“We have a great downtown, and we can do things to make it an even greater downtown,” Storrow said. “Ensuring that we’re having this conversation in an intergovernmental way is important.”
Wednesday’s meeting will be followed by another at 1 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 28, in the Rogers Road Community Center, 101 Edgar St. That conversation will focus on social and environmental justice issues, including how every resident can be a better steward of the environment and the community.
It will not be limited to issues affecting only the Rogers Road neighborhood, Storrow said.
The series continues at 5:30 p.m. March 5, with a discussion of economic development at The Siena Hotel on East Franklin Street, and March 12, at the Chapel Hill Public Library, when leaders from the Orange County Board of Commissioners and UNC will join Storrow to talk about the possibilities for collaboration among local governments.
Commissioners Chairman Earl McKee and Linda Convissor, UNC director of community relations, plans to come, Storrow said.