The last thing citizens want
The expansive American Legion property has long been of interest as a possible site for a future town park or other beneficial development. Until recently the town of Chapel Hill had first rights of refusal on sale of the property. Now all that has changed.
On Nov. 9, in a closed session and without any public input, the former mayor and Town Council relinquished the town’s right of refusal and authorized the town manager to enter into an agreement that would smooth the path for a developer to place up to 600 housing units on the site. This last-gasp effort by the old council and manager to accommodate big developers was done just before a new council was set to take office. Such secretive slight of hand clearly runs counter to the tradition of democratic governance of our town.
No one questions the American Legion’s right to sell its property on favorable terms. However, as in all cases, that right is subject to town zoning and regulation. The property is not currently zoned for high-density housing and, as the recent town election clearly demonstrated, the last thing the citizens of Chapel Hill want is more high-priced, high-density housing that creates traffic and run-off problems without providing significant benefits.
It would be nice if the town and the Legion could agree on a sale price that would allow creation of a new park. If that is not possible there are many other commercial uses for the site that would be far more beneficial to the town while still providing the Legion with an attractive financial return.
Disabled being ignored
I received an unwanted Jan. 3 edition of your newspaper. I was decidedly disappointed to see Mary Sonis’ photos. Sonis is a vehement opponent of the Bolin Creek Greenway, which would have gone through her neighborhood and provided people with physical disabilities access to the wonders of Bolin Creek.
Sonis and the Save Bolin Creek group’s website used an inaccurate description of me when I tried to advocate for an alternative to concrete access to the greenway. I was misquoted on their website and was repeatedly thwarted at each turn to correct the problem. Therefore, I find Ms. Sonis offensive and biased against the disabled.
So I found it very interesting that in the caption of one of her photos of an owl she quotes the owl as thinking “... and we know whose woods these are.” Since the owl is not telepathic with Sonis, the obvious conclusion is those are Sonis’ sentiments.
Since The Chapel Hill News employs a person with a viewpoint of inaccessibility, I plead that your newspaper make amends to my community. I have multiple sclerosis and cannot access Bolin Creek, and my viewpoint never seems to be represented in your paper. My numerous photo submissions for “Your Best Shot” were all turned down for various reasons.
Where is the objectivity to your newspaper? There are so many topics to explore with the disabled that I think that you should have an op-ed at least once a month from someone disabled, more literary than I, who could explain our viewpoints, our problems, our real issues, etc. It would bring a tremendous morale boost to the disability community who is being ignored by you.
Editor’s note: The writer is remembering a headline in a letter we ran five years ago that implied she supported paving the greenway for greater access. The letter was republished by Save Bolin Creek, an offshoot of Friends of Bolin Creek. We contacted a representative of the groups this week who said both are inclusive, draw members from all parts of the community and are organized to conserve Bolin Creek and its forest. The groups regret any misunderstanding.
We also contacted Mary Parker Sonis, who explained the caption, taken from a 2015 column, references Robert Frost’s poem “Stopping by the woods on a snowy evening. The first line goes, “Whose woods these are I think I know.”
“The Barred Owl in particular is known to be married to its territory,” Sonis writes. “If it loses its mate, it doesn’t leave the territory, but searches within its territory for a new mate. It made sense to me to use this reference, as why would the land in which the owl spends its entire life not be considered belonging to the owl? The Barred Owls have occupied Bolin Creek Forest long before I ever set foot on a trail. Audubon gave an eloquent description of the Barred Owl and its habits in his First Edition Plate 46. So, I do stand by my quote. The forest belongs to the Barred Owl as much as it belongs to our human residents. When we are long gone, the descendants of the Barred Owls that I pass every day on the trail will be curiously looking down on new visitors. If the owls ever leaves this territory, it will only occur because the forest no longer exists.”
The Chapel Hill News is actively looking for a columnist in 2016 who can write about issues affecting people with disabilities in our community. If you’re interested contact editor Mark Schultz at 919-829-8950 or firstname.lastname@example.org