Chapel Hill: Opinion

The Conversation, Feb. 10: Matt Bailey, Carol Folt, David Price, Lowry Caudill, Richard leber and Mary Jane Young

A trusted mentor

Our Carolina community is deeply saddened by the passing of Dean Smith.

Coach Smith was an extraordinary man who cared deeply about people. Known worldwide as a legendary basketball coach, our university, the Chapel Hill community, and the countless students, faculty, staff and people across North Carolina and beyond will remember him as a great teacher and remarkable pioneer in promoting equality and civil rights.

For Coach Smith, his players, coaches and staff were family. He was a trusted mentor whose care for his players went beyond the basketball court and continued after they left Carolina. He will be remembered as a great American and true Tar Heel.

Carol L. Folt

Chancellor, UNC

Profound, positive impact

As the Carolina family grieves the magnitude of Coach Dean Smith’s loss, we can take comfort in considering the profound positive impact his words and deeds had across North Carolina and our nation.

Coach Smith was always so much more than a brilliant basketball strategist. He was a father figure to his players, a loyal friend to his associates, a compassionate humanitarian who championed equality, and a strong advocate for the importance of education. He cared about others more than himself. He will forever be remembered as a giant in the history of our great University.

We are grateful to his wife, Linnea, and his family for sharing him with all of us for so many years.

Lowry Caudill

Chair, UNC Board of Trustees

Genius and integrity

North Carolina lost one of its most accomplished and admirable citizens yesterday. Dean Smith will long be remembered for his historic successes as coach of the Tar Heels, for the genius and also the integrity he brought to college basketball. He was also a powerful force for good in the community, working actively and courageously for civil rights and equal justice throughout his life.

I have known Dean since my student days, when he was a beginning coach and an active member of Binkley Baptist Church, a fledgling congregation focused on social justice. I was honored to join his family at the White House in 2013,when he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. The intervening years mark a remarkable career, a life well-lived, and thousands of lives positively shaped and influenced.

U.S. Rep. David Price

Chapel Hill

Where exactly?

In her response to Travis Crayton and Molly De Marco’s guest column advocating for increased density, Terri Buckner makes some perplexing claims: Ms. Buckner says we should not create walkable, bikeable communities in areas such as Ephesus Fordham and Obey Creek because we need to preserve, “the walkable, bikeable community we still have remnants of.”

Where, exactly, are these walkable, bike-friendly parts of town Ms. Buckner claims are so endangered? Beyond Franklin Street, most Chapel Hill neighborhoods are suburban cul-de-sacs and strip malls specifically designed for car travel. Try biking from Colony Woods to Whole Foods and tell us how safe it felt.

The fact is, having people live, work and play on less land is more environmentally friendly than low density, sprawling, car dependent development. More people on less land means less impervious surface (i.e. strip mall parking lots) to generate stormwater run-off, fewer car miles traveled to spew carbon into the atmosphere, and more land preserved for wildlife and recreation.

I can certainly respect that some might not prefer to live in the style of neighborhood that Mr. Crayton and Ms. De Marco believe Chapel Hill needs. There’s no law against liking suburbia. However, how can anyone logically assert that driving to Whole Foods is better for the environment than walking there?

I know Ms. Buckner and the rest of the No Change Gang bristle at the NIMBY (“Not In My Back Yard”) label, but when she claims new neighborhoods endanger, “the friendly, close-knit community where you can run into neighbors and friends at the grocery,” is she suggesting that new and different neighbors are somehow inherently bad or unfriendly? After all, the belief that a community should stop welcoming new neighbors right after you move in is the very essence of a being a NIMBY.

Matt Bailey


Not a blade of grass

I was dismayed to see the drawing of the future seven-story apartment building on Elliott Road with not a blade of grass in sight.

Put a barbed-wire-topped fence around it, and it could be mistaken for a prison.

Mary Jane Young

Chapel Hill

Oates informs

I’m glad Chapel Hill has residents like Nancy Oates. In her latest opinion piece, we are informed of the very poor financial outcomes of decisions made by Chapel Hill’s Town Council.

Nancy mentioned the $220,000 per year shortfall of revenues from the underground public parking area at 140 West Franklin. If town staff asked residents, like my wife, or another resident who recently wrote a letter to the editor, they would have known a segment of the population does not feel safe using underground public parking areas.

The Town Council supported giving Ram Development use of Lot 5 for $1 per year and taking on $8 million of additional debt primarily to support businesses on Franklin Street. Ram estimated 140 West Franklin would have a $75 million property value – actual value is $53.3 million, a shortfall of another $365,000 per year in revenue (property taxes).

Town staff is now asking residents to make up these revenue shortfalls. Maybe a more equitable way of raising funds for this debt coverage would be to allocate these costs to the Downtown Business Tax District and not the Chapel Hill Bond Fund. If shortfalls from poor commercial development decisions are allocated to businesses and not residents, businesses may be more careful with their support of future commercial projects requiring use of public funds and assets.

Richard Leber

Chapel Hill

The most vulnerable

Christmas is supposed to bring out the best in us with peace on earth, good will to men. But this Christmas the theft of credit card numbers compromised many of us who were unlucky to have lost money. I spent four days the the bank trying to get it sorted out.

It’s older people who get stolen from because they are forgetful and don’t press “clear” when they finish their transactions. They are also rather slow and often mislay their cards. One old lady had three or four cards laid out in front of her trying to decide which one to use. The elderly are also more likely to order something over the phone.

Some of the phone clerks are insufferably rude. My name causes trouble. Mangum becomes Magnum P.I., and Ariana can be made into a marvelous mishmash of sounds. The clerks talk over you and refuse to listen as to why the medicine had not been received. When they talk over me I tell them of their rudeness. I have hearing loss, and I am 86 years old and I should be treated with respect.

Never order over the phone, send a cashier’s check, and don’t spread your cards on the counter. Always push “clear” when you finish, and don’t order anything which costs much. I lost almost $400, and for me that was a lot of money.

The sad thing is that the very old and the very young are the most vulnerable because the young are too trusting and the old are too slow.

Stealing is wrong, but at Christmas it is even more wrong. A small amount of money must be spread in many different ways.

Shopping for the elderly is difficult. The physical acts of going into a store and selecting goods are not easy. For the young the lack of money is a problem. A small amount must be stretched in several ways, and the presents are not cheap. Then to get robbed makes Christmas an unhappy season.

After I spent four days trying to get the theft sorted out, I found a dime on the floor of the bank. I picked it up and gave it to one of the tellers.

“It’s not mine,” I told him. “I don’t want anyone else’s money. Not even a dime!”

Ariana Mangum

Chapel Hill