New Amtrak station starts to take form on platform
More on the stormwater tempest in a bioretention teapot

BCR's Daily Fishwrap Report for February 24, 2009

It's a big day in local news, with lots happening in the sausage factory of local government:

  • The BOCC unanimously endorsed county manager Mike Ruffin's plan to use short-term borrowing at low rates (with a refi down the line) to begin $118 million in building projects: $102m for the new Human Services Complex on E. Main, $8m to renovations at the county stadium, and the remaining monies supporting the South and Southwest Library renovations/construction, an addition to Creekside Elementary, and renovations to the Lakewood Y, the Durham Convention Center, and an emergency services station. (N&O, H-S)
  • County leaders are looking for cuts in the government's ten-year capital plan, particularly on the schools side, which represents over 70% of the $1.1 billion price tag of all the projects. Of note: the new High School A planned for construction was sized to open at less-than-maximum size and might be at overflow capacity from day one; it would cost 25% more than the current $48m price tag to build it to full size initially. Less-expensive solutions for jail expansion and warehousing needs will be discussed at the BOCC's March 2 work session. (H-S)
  • NCDOT chief Gene Conti noted at Monday's Durham Station dedication that 80% of the $100m in the stimulus plan for transit would be aimed at urban areas "like Durham" -- look for more news on this in the coming weeks. Meanwhile, city manager Tom Bonfield noted that the circulator continues to be under review, while the old DATA station will most immediately become a staging area for workers performing streetscape renovations to W. Main St. (H-S)
  • Although state officials were happy to stop by the Durham Station groundbreaking, Durham's legislative delegation used their morning breakfast with City Council to frown on elected officials' request to increase the local transit add-on for car registration fees above today's $10 level, despite places like Morrisville, Chapel Hill, and even Rolesville getting $15-$30 per vehicle. (H-S)
  • Meantime, City Council's grumbling over changes to DATA Route 3 is now leading to a complete policy review of DATA routes, with one possibility being Council making final decisions over routes. Oh, that would be fun to watch. (H-S)
  • County leaders got briefed on renovations to the downtown library, which are now pegged at $14.2m in cost, and which would add 3,600 sq. ft. to the interior of the building. The Roxboro St. side porch would be enclosed and windows added to the concrete paneled skin, while the entrance would relocate to the Liberty St. side. Inside, the core stairwell would be removed, the history room tripled in side, and a cafe added, along with an art gallery on the western yard. (H-S)



$8.2 million for Durham County Stadium... ??

Meanwhile, thousands of DPS students are attending class this morning in the 124 trailer-classrooms in use across the county. My daughter is one of those students, and has been for the past 3 years.

Yet the BOCC thinks it is OK to spend $8.2 million dollars on a stadium while at the same meeting they talk about cutting back on expensive school construction becuase of too much debt.

Maybe if they would pay up front for some of the construction by adding a couple cents to the property tax rate (local politicians are cowards when it comes to considering property tax increases, no matter what the state of the economy is), and stop wasteful spending on things like stadiums, the debt wouldn't be such a problem.

Tar Heelz

It's not a trailer. It's a "learning cottage."


Since Kevin is allergic to self-promotion, I am going to do it for him. Check it out:

WED 2/25. 6pm. The Triangle Labor and Civil Rights Working Group (LCRWG) meeting.
Center for Documentary Studies (1317 W. Pettigrew Street) near Duke's East Campus, Durham.
Topic - "Urban Planning and Development in the Triangle".

Please join us for an engaging discussion with the following speakers: Kevin Davis, creator of the website "Bull City Rising",, and Gary Kueber, author of the blog "Endangered Durham"; Kevin and Gary will discuss current planning issues in the triangle, the role of technology in urban activism, and, hopefully, offer their visions of Durham's future. If you plan to attend, please RSVP to Orion Teal: The LCRWG seeks to foster greater dialogue between activists and scholars on issues related to civil rights and labor in the Triangle and beyond. Our third year is off to a great start and Spring 2009 promises to be equally engaging, informative, and fun, so please save the following dates:

--3/25 Latino/Immigrant Labor, UNC, location TBA, 6pm
--4/22 Film Screening and Discussion, UNC, Love House, 6pm

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