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November 2009

BOCC passes stormwater rules -- but is the real debate still to begin?

Good to see the recommended rules for stormwater management pass the Board of County Commissioners last night. As the Herald-Sun notes, the changes tighten erosion control and runoff measures that need to be implemented on construction sites, bringing development rules into compliance with new state mandates. The City Council will take up the same measures at its December 7 meeting.

As the N&O points out, though, these changes are relatively minor compared to the much more significant ones possible down the road under an accelerated-timetable creation of a Falls Lake watershed protection strategy, moved ahead on the timeline by a Wake County legislator.

There's no question that Durham's stormwater practices need improvement. Ellerbe Creek is a mess, and most of Durham was developed before modern SWM practices came into play to require on-site treatment before discharge.

As non-green as "sprawldivisions" with low density and no walkable stores or restaurants in their vicinity often are, they do have to have retention basins in many cases to slow the flow of runoff and in some cases to allow on-site treatment and mitigation. Contrast that with a good ol' rain in Durham's inner-city neighborhoods, where the water flows pretty quickly down to the creeks and off to places like Falls Lake.

Yet there are some legitimate concerns, too, and questions that we should expect -- make that demand -- to see enter the public discourse over the next year. The more I talk with elected officials and stakeholders, the more I want to see a full discussion of water quality and its regional implications enter the debate.

The first and most obvious challenge that exists: finding a fair regional strategy to pay for clean water.

Continue reading "BOCC passes stormwater rules -- but is the real debate still to begin?" »

BCR's Daily Fishwrap Report for November 24, 2009

The big news locally (Herald-Sun, N&O) today is the BOCC's vote on construction runoff and erosion mitigation rules, with the board voting to bring Durham in compliance with a new state mandate. More on that shortly here at BCR.

In other local news:

Duke's Sweatshop Stand Pays Off: Duke was the first university (back in 1998) to require all its licensees to adhere to a code of conduct for the production of licensed campus t-shirts, sweatshirts and the like -- and it was a pioneer again last spring, one of the first colleges to cut off ties with Russell Athletics after the firm closed a South American plant employing 1,200 soon after a unionization vote by its workers. Now Russell has agreed to re-open the plant and hire back the workers, something a worker's rights group says is in part due to Blue Devil pressure. (Herald-Sun)

Prostitution Sting Nets Almost 30: 28 prostitutes and attempted customers were arrested in a NECD sting over the weekend, part of the ongoing Operation Bulls Eye effort to target an area that's suffered from high drug, violent crime and prostitution issues. (NBC 17)

Royal Oaks Blaze Arson: A fire at an apartment complex last week that injured one firefighter is now suspected to be arson, fire officials say. A youth was charged with an earlier arson attempt in October at the same complex. (Herald-Sun)

NCCU Aims for AALS: NC Central's law school will find out this week if it can become the first historically black public institution accepted into the Association of American Law Schools; its dean notes that NCCU doesn't rank comparably on faculty research and scholarship but is on the upswing in those categories. (Herald-Sun)

New CQ Crime Data Yields Mixed Results: In a not-so-shocking finding, economically-exclusive suburban communities like Cary appear on lists of America's safest cities by walling out crime, while cities like Durham and Raleigh have above-average crime levels in a ranking of 400 US cities. Durham ranks as one of NC's safest cities -- ahead of Charlotte, Greensboro, Winston-Salem and Fayetteville -- though behind High Point, Greenville and Raleigh. Nationally, Durham's crime levels per capita are roughly on par with San Francisco, Berkeley, Boston, Richmond Va., Huntsville Ala., and Salt Lake City. (Triangle Business Journal)

Nordstrom Rack announces South Durham store opening in 2010

WRAL and Triangle Business Journal both reported today's announcement that Nordstrom will open their popular off-price "Nordstrom Rack" in Durham come 2010.

Nordstrom_rack_opening The store -- which features many of the same men's and women's fashions found in the Seattle-based retailer's mainline shops, but at deep discounts -- is targeting the old Linens 'N Things store across Fayetteville Rd. from the Streets of Southpoint regional mall.

It's a popular concept, and one that Nordstrom has been expanding; the TBJ notes that there are now almost 70 Rack stores versus 112 of its department stores.

As it happens, this Nordstrom Rack will open up right across the street from Durham's Nordstrom, which was the first outlet opened by the upscale store in North Carolina.

The new location is in the midst of the Renaissance Center development, one of two big-box power centers adjacent to the mall.

Durham Farmers Market adds pre-Thanksgiving sale this Tuesday

The Durham Farmers Market is about to begin its seasonal reduction of Saturday hours thanks to the chill of winter -- the market drops to 10am to noon on December 5 -- but not before a special market happening this week to help out all y'all Thanksgiving dinner preparers.

While the mid-week market is closed for the season, a special Thanksgiving week market is scheduled for this Tuesday, November 24, from 3:00pm to 5:30pm.

Says market manager Erin Kauffman in the weekly market news release:

On Tuesday, there will be about 20 vendors at Market.  To help you plan your shopping, here is a list of some of the vendors who will be at Market on Tuesday... Abanitu Farm, Celebrity Dairy, Chapel Hill Creamery, Bluebird Meadows, Dolly Mama, Four Leaf Farm, Flat River Nursery, Fickle Creek Farm, Loaf, Pine Knot Farm,  Photography by Pamela Strand, Speckled Bird Farm, Sunset Farms, Sweethart Glass, Meadow Lane Farm, Scratch, Weatherhand Farm and a few others.  On Tuesday, there will be a few, fresh (unfrozen) turkeys for sale.  So, shop the Farmers' Market first, grocery store second!

Due to the holiday, the market will not be open on Saturday, November 28; it resumes on December 5 with the aforementioned shorter winter hours.

Win two tickets to see "Phantom of the Opera" at DPAC

Phantom DUMMMMM.... dum dum dum DA dum... dum dum dum da DUM...

OK, that's a poor textual substitute for multimedia. But in Broadway-speak, it can mean only one thing: Phantom of the Opera has arrived in town.

It's the first long-form, monthlong show for Durham's new downtown performing arts center, setting up sets this week and last for a run that starts on Thanksgiving and lasts for a full month.

Not that Phantom's marathon run is anything useful for the longest-running show in Broadway history, which started its US tour back in 1992, a road show without end that's continued to this day thousands of performances later. The show's performers wrap up in Tempe this week before arriving in Durham; then, it's off to Fort Lauderdale, Orlando and Austin.

And BCR readers have a chance to win one of two pairs of tickets, kindly provided by the folks at the DPAC.

Continue reading "Win two tickets to see "Phantom of the Opera" at DPAC" »

Three key properties hit market on Holloway Street

523holloway When Mrs. BCR was scouring the real estate listings this weekend, I heard her say with surprise, "Oh, these are three nice looking houses coming up for sale on Holloway Street!"

The three houses -- owned for a number of years by Faye Broadwater and her husband Tommy -- are on the market.

Two have been listed for some time with previous agents, but now all three are listed by Marie Austin -- one, a 5,000 sq. ft., already remodeled historic home.

And between them, they provide an interesting opportunity to engage in one of the most intriguing neighborhoods coming of age around downtown Durham.

Continue reading "Three key properties hit market on Holloway Street" »

BCR's Daily Fishwrap Report for November 23, 2009

It's so good to be home in Durham, after a whirlwind 16+ days of traveling helping a parent through an out-of-state relocation. As I noted over on Twitter yesterday, even the ugly Southwest Airlines portion of Terminal 1 at RDU looks nice when it means you're coming home. In local news:

NC Mutual Faces Va. Regulator Heat: Virginia regulators have proposed NC Mutual from doing new business in their state, based on their analysis that the firm's surplus has dropped to hazardous low conditions. The company has asked for a hearing on the matter. (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

Rolling Hills Charrettes Wrap: Fri. night saw a wrap-up of the crash-course planning effort for the Rolling Hills/Southside redevelopment, looking at again-City-owned and Self-Help controlled properties in the area. Apartments and townhouses would meet with residential/commercial flexible-use structures and a street pattern reverted to be more similar to that in the old Hayti, sez the N&O's Jim Wise in the summary meeting's only coverage. Not surprisingly, locals had some concerns over displacement and who'd gain from the economic opportunity. (N&O)

Reading Street Buys a Snickers, Not Going Anywhere for a While: DPS school board member Kristen Kainz thanked a teacher for raising her concern over the Reading Street program -- teachers have been reticent to speak up publicly on the program -- but school board chair Minnie Forte-Brown made clear, speaking it seems for the board, that the literacy problems in the district were real and that the program would be given a chance to turn things around. The Herald-Sun piece is definitely worth a full read. (Herald-Sun)

Skate Park Popular -- Helmets/Pads Not So Much: The Herald-Sun looks at the recently-opened downtown skateboard park, which is drawing rave reviews from skaters visiting from all over the US and decent-sized crowds. A number are refusing to wear helmets and protective pads, though, with Parks & Rec set to crackdown after a first month of issuing warnings; a number of skaters have complained they don't want to wear protective gear despite the City requirement. (Herald-Sun #1, #2)

Continue reading "BCR's Daily Fishwrap Report for November 23, 2009" »

Durham H1N1 vaccine by appointment at county Health Department

Durham's mass-vaccination clinics have certainly made for headlines and compelling news photographs in the Herald-Sun.

As even the Durham County Health Department has noted, it's been years since such a public health emergency required such activities, and they've been learning, or make that re-learning, as they went. (Worth noting that the clinics, in which 1,500-2,500+ vaccines have been distributed on any given day, have generally gotten very favorable praise for their organization and execution per the H-S.)

The County announced on Friday that while mass vaccination clinics may happen again in the next month or so, the department is moving to by-appointment administration at the Health Department's E. Main St. offices.

Clinics will be held every Tue. and Thu., from 9am until 6:30pm, starting this Tuesday (but taking a break for Turkey Day.) Per the Health Dept.'s press release:

Vaccination clinics will be geared toward people who are a part of the target group identified by the Center of Disease Control and Prevention.  These individuals include pregnant women, people who live with or care for infants younger than six months of age, anyone from six months through 24 years of age, anyone from 25 through 64 years of age with certain chronic medical conditions or a weakened immune system, and health care and emergency medical personnel.  All children that receive the vaccine must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.

To schedule an appointment, call the department at 919-560-7882; visit their web site for more information.

Art Walk, Third Friday bookend extraordinarily busy Durham weekend

One of the best things about being in Durham is that there always seems to be something to do. This weekend, make that a ton of things to do. It's hard to know where to begin.

Art_walk Most obvious on the list: the Durham Art Walk, stretching out this year from Brightleaf Square to Golden Belt, from American Tobacco to the DAP and beyond.

The free bi-annual event is designed to provide artists and craftsmen a chance to show off their wares while Durham shows off some of its downtown retail spaces, restaurants and the like. 400 artists' work will be on hand at this fall's Art Walk, a great chance to do some holiday shopping and enjoy a nice fall day. From one release:

The Durham Art Walk welcomes brand new sites and sponsors including: Alivia's Durham Bistro, American Tobacco Campus, Duke Tower Hotel & Condominiums, J&K Custom Screenprinting, Meridian Design, Piedmont Restaurant and Posh the Salon. We also welcome over 50 new DAW artists!

Literally hundreds of artists will be showing their work at 36 great sites around downtown including favorites such as Vega Metals, The Carolina Theatre, TROSA Furniture & Frame Shop, West Village and many others!

Do not miss seeing the many artists featured at art spaces such as the Golden Belt, The Scrap Exchange, Through This Lens, Bull City Arts Collaborative, the Durham Art Guild and Durham Arts Place.

The Art Walk runs from 10am-5pm on Saturday and 1pm-5pm on Sunday. Get more information, a map of the walk and more at the Durham Art Walk web site.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

This fall's Art Walk starts on the heels of November's Third Friday celebration. 

Cbi_e_chapel_hill Downtowners, take note of one particularly unique entry this week: a series of design proposals for a handful of downtown Durham buildings, produced as student projects by some UNC-Greensboro students.

From the photos at the project's web site, a number of the designs look to offer inspiration for the upcoming upfit of the Alliance Architecture-owned space on E. Chapel Hill St. across from the post office set to become an office workspace furniture store. (American Tobacco is getting one of these spaces, too.) Check out the students' designs online, or from 5-8pm tonight in Rigsbee Hall downtown.

Tam A new item this Third Friday: the Triangle Arts Mixer, described by the folks at Golden Belt as "an evening for arts organizations, arts supporters, and artists of all disciplines to mix, mingle, and find new ways to activate and advance the Triangle arts scene." A range of organizations from Durham and the entire Triangle will be there; the free networking event (with cash bar) takes place 6-9pm Friday at The Cotton Room at Golden Belt, which also sees the opening of "Hiroshima: After Aftermath" in ROOM 100. (more info)

Continue reading "Art Walk, Third Friday bookend extraordinarily busy Durham weekend" »

BCR's Daily Fishwrap Report for November 20, 2009

In today's headlines:

Healthy Start, Council Still Talking Demolition: Two Morehead Hill houses behind the Healthy Start Academy charter school off W. Chapel Hill St. may still be demolished by the school purportedly to build a new playground, though a consultant for the school agreed -- reluctantly -- to talk with the Planning department about alternatives the City has identified, along streets like Arnette and Shepherd. (Herald-Sun)

Super Search Close To Start -- Largely Behind Closed Doors: DPS' school board delayed its superintendent search firm pick until Dec. 1, hours before a kitchen-table conversation on priorities. But requests from teachers and an anti-Broad Foundation parents' group activist to hold public forums for superintendent candidates and to include parents as voting participants in the search got no traction. School board chair Minnie Forte-Brown cited top candidates' unwillingness to go through a public search while they hold a job elsewhere and state laws on who can vote on a hiring decision as the rationales. (Herald-Sun)

Employers, Schools on H1N1: DPS is seeing about a 1% bump in absenteeism this year, though inexplicably, the school system the Herald-Sun it's not tracking influenza-related illnesses. Er, 'kay. Meanwhile, the Paxton paper looks at preparations at a variety of private businesses, most of which say they're counting on employees to follow common-sense approaches to wellness to keep clean and stay home if ill. (Herald-Sun #1, #2)

Continue reading "BCR's Daily Fishwrap Report for November 20, 2009" »