Wednesday, January 12, 2005

In local news

After a nice holiday break, the Town Council is back in business. On Monday night, we set the date for the renaming of Airport Road as Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. We decided on May 8. Forty-five years ago on that date, Dr. King came to Chapel Hill to lend his encouragement to the the work of civil rights activists here. This in itself was a story that was in danger of being lost to history. (Good reporting by Kirk Ross in 1996 and Daily Tar Heel reporter Emily Vasquez last year has helped to preserve the memories. Unfortunately, no pictures of his visit have ever surfaced.) It will be a great day of celebration.

The details of the celebration will be worked out in the coming weeks and months.

Yesterday, the Council took a big leap forward in the development of our two downtown parking lots; we held a pre-proposal conference in advance of the January 31 deadline for developer teams to respond to the request for qualifications.

All Council members present spoke about their particular interests in the project. My special interest has always been in seeing that the design of the buildings, and the design of the public space, is first-rate architecture--and that succeeds as a place where people will come together or just hang out (Ray Oldenberg's "third place"). I cited, among other things, the Project for Public Spaces for examples of good conscious efforts to design successful urban space.

It's really exciting to have made it this far. Now we'll see what response we get.

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