Ensure Chapel Hill is a Healthy and Livable Town
Safety of Citizens is Top Priority
I suggest we start with Safer Streets:
Our streets need to be as safe as possible for people walking, in cars or on bicycles. I suggested the plan “Vision Zero” (zero traffic fatalities and severe injuries) “Vision Zero is a strategy emerging across the United States to eliminate traffic fatalities and injuries – particularly focusing on those walking and bicycling, who have been traditionally overlooked.” http://visionzeronetwork.org/
We also need to continue to support our excellent Police & Fire Departments.
Growth and Development are inevitable in Chapel Hill. All you have to do is go to http://gis.townofchapelhill.org/developments/ to see the many developments in Chapel Hill. We need to be sure our growth and development is wise and doesn’t make a negative impact on our community.
All new developments should be Revenue Positive:
New Developments should not put a burden on the town budget, but help it. We can assure this by using full cost accounting and by improving the commercial tax base. We are losing revenue to Durham and Chatham counties. The details may be found here: http://www.howmoneywalks.com/web-app/. Be sure to click on Orange County to see where our money is going.
We should support developments that are Greener and Healthier:
A balanced town needs to have a good ratio of green space to density.
Two books which tell how are:
“Better NOT Bigger” by Eben Fodor
“25 Ways to think of Greener, Healthier Cities” by F. K. Benfeild
Support Local Businesses
Local Businesses in Chapel Hill help give us our soul and wonderful character. We need to do all we can to have a supportive environment for our local businesses.
Taxes in Chapel Hill have spiraled with Chapel Hill having the highest tax rates in the Triangle. We can reverse this trend by an increased commercial tax base, revenue positive development and efficiency in our government.
Insure Affordable Housing
Affordable housing is important for all because it insures a diverse population in Chapel Hill. Housing here should be available to all social economic levels regardless of age, race, national origin, gender and sexual orientation. We need to make sure our Teachers, Policemen, University employees and other workers can afford to live here.
Increase Alternative Transportation
- Public Transportation
The Bus system in Chapel Hill needs to run on Sundays and also include later hours of operation. Holiday schedules should not be run on days when people must work.
- Light Rail
Light Rail will do a lot to reduce the vehicle traffic burden. Current plans have a direct route from Chapel Hill to Durham but not to Raleigh. A direct route connecting Chapel Hill to Raleigh should also be included.
Chapel Hill should be a more bicycle friendly community. Currently we have a Bronze designation from the American League of Bicyclists. Carrboro has a Silver designation. These designations indicate how bike friendly our town is. Let us set a goal of a Gold designation for Chapel Hill in the next four years. We can do this by hiring a designated town staff bicycle person, expanding our public greenways network and adding more off-road bike paths or cycle tracks to separate bicycles from auto traffic. Many bicycle improvements can be made at minimal costs. Here is more information from the National Association of Transportation Officials on raised bicycle tracks. http://nacto.org/cities-for-cycling/design-guide/cycle-tracks/raised-cycle-tracks/#design
This is by far the easiest form of travel. With safe pedestrian corridors, citizens are able to reach their destinations using a combination of the above forms of travel. Off-road multi-use paths should be considered as alternates to some of the sidewalks we currently have.
- More Greenways
Some people do not consider Greenways as a form of Transportation, but they can serve both recreational and utilitarian needs. While our greenways system has a nice start it is woefully inadequate for the current development that is already approved and planned. We need to make Greenways a priority.
Efficient & Accountable Local Government
We need to see more efficiency and accountability in our local government.
First, we need to see a town program recognizing employees who save money for the town by increasing efficiency. Then that employee could suggest where the funds they save should be allocated, such as affordable housing or greenways.
Second, there also needs to be more accountability in our Chapel Hill government. Chapel Hill cannot afford escalating consulting costs such as was seen for the Central West Area focus group where the original estimate was $92,000 and grew to $230,000. Consultants should be hired based on results and a final product and not per hour. We have excellent local talent that could accomplish most, if not all of our needs.
Third, we also need to heed the advice of studies and resultant plans. We spent lots of money on a new Bicycle Plan, but have hardly done anything that was recommended.
Finally, we need a current customer service feedback procedure in place to gauge how the town government is serving the community. Citizen input is vital. We should join a program called Open Town Hall run by http://www.peakdemocracy.com/. This is a program to build trust in the government and gather constituent input.
Our Advisory Boards are comprised of many dedicated, competent citizens. We should do all we can to empower our Advisory Boards.
Preserve and Expand our Greenways
Greenways are vital to a healthy livable town.
To quote geographer Rutherford Platt “functions of greenways include water resource protection and pollution abatement, riparian habitat enhancement and biodiversity, flood hazard reduction, recreation, environmental education, noise attenuation, microclimate enhancement (for both cooling and pollution abatement), and the reduction of bank erosion and downstream sedimentation”
For more information see: www.americantrails.org/resources/greenways/newgeneration.html