All posts tagged: durham

Seafood in the summer

By Matt Goad A door slams shut behind a satisfied customer and another door opens with a new customer not far behind. This happens all day long, three days a week in the small, cinder-block shack that houses Tom Robinson’s Carolina Seafood of Carrboro. With a small staff, the business manages to get to the North Carolina coast every Wednesday to get fish and shellfish to sell in the Piedmont on the weekend. It brings in salmon from Nova Scotia, and some oysters from Virginia, depending on the season, but almost everything comes from North Carolina. Manager Salvador Bonilla generally travels to Morehead City, Swansboro and Beaufort to deal with the local anglers there. Tom Robinson started the business in Chapel Hill in 1975, selling from the back of a truck parked at Pantana Bob’s bar on Rosemary Street. Bonilla has managed the business for the last 16 years. He didn’t know much about the fish business at the time. He worked as a chef at Vespa, the defunct Italian restaurant on Franklin Street, and …

Durham gets ready to replace 12,000 feet of water mains in Ninth Street area

Durham is moving forward with a massive water and sewer replacement project in the Ninth Street area and surrounding neighborhoods. Dubbed the “West Blvd. Corridor Utility Rehabilitation project,” the plans call for replacing 12,000 feet of water mains, as well as replacing hydrants, and replacing and repairing sewer lines. It’s the biggest project of this type in the Ninth Street area in memory, according to the city. The project work would go from the Barnes Supply Co. store to West Club Boulevard, including Oval Park, and running down Carolina Avenue, Oakland Avenue, and Englewood Avenue going to Broad Street. The length of West Club Boulevard from Ninth Street to Hillandale Road is also included. (The city’s plans are here. For more details on the work as well as properties to be impacted, click here.) In addition to the 12,000 feet of water mains to be replaced, 11,000 feet of sewer lines and 5,000 feet of storm sewer pipe will also be replaced. “These mains are well beyond their service life,” said Water Department spokeswoman Jennifer …

Durham’s Lake Michie expansion project continues

Durham City has added another 20.2 acres to the properties it now owns around Lake Michie, as part of the city’s ongoing project to acquire land for the lake’s possible expansion. The city paid $200,000 for a tract along Pat Tilley Road. At the May 7 city council meeting, Mayor Steve Schewel expressed unusual enthusiasm about the purchase. “Awesome,” he said. “Still my favorite program in history.” But Durham’s Department of Water Management says there is no current plan to expand Lake Michie and that the purchases are just a “passive” program to protect water quality. “These are buffer properties, and this is an entirely passive program,” said spokeswoman Jennifer Smart. “Beyond source water protection, this also would give the city the option of expanding the lake if such a project were needed to enlarge the water supply – but this would be decades in the future.” The “Lake Michie expansion project” goes back to 1988. Lake Michie along with Little River are the primary water supplies for Durham. Since the program started, the city …

The Durham City Council has been busy during the lockdown! Part 3: Affordable housing gets $4.5 million

The Durham City Council is earmarking $4.5 million to help fund three projects on affordable housing, with one major development in the downtown area. That is a new apartment building proposed by Self-Help Credit Union called Ashton Place Apartments, estimated to cost $10 million. Planned for 310 Jackson St., adjacent to the Durham Station, Ashton Place will have 51 apartments available to residents who are at or above 55 years old, with income at or below 60 percent of area median income, according to Self-Help. The project is being co-developed by Self-Help and Raleigh-based DHIC Inc., or Downtown Housing Improvement Corporation. The two organizations are also co-developing the Willard Street Apartments, which will have 82 affordable apartments when it is slated to open in 2021. Jenny Shields, spokeswoman for Self-Help, said in an e-mail this week that the project is dependent on the award of the low-income housing tax credit by the N.C. Housing Finance Agency. “While the Durham City Council has approved $1.8 million to support this project, those funds will only be expended …

The Durham City Council has been busy during the lockdown! Part 2: Council approves $7.7 million in road improvement projects

Durham is moving ahead with about $7.7 million in road improvement projects, including $3 million for work on manholes. That includes an additional $1.1 million for the West Club Boulevard utility project that will cover the Ninth Street area up to West Club Boulevard, increasing the project to a total of $1.9 million. The council also approved $1.6 million for street repairs and repaving in 2020, and a combined $3 million for a comprehensive Manhole Rehabilitation Project. The city council approved these projects at their April to May meetings. According to Jennifer Smart, spokeswoman for the Department of Water Management, the Manhole Rehabilitation project will cover 1,550 manholes throughout the city. Workers will spray a cement liner to the inside of the manholes to provide structural support and seal up leaky spots. The comprehensive project is split into north and south portions. Work is slated to begin in June and is expected to wrap up in seven months for the north portion, and one year for south. Smart said in an e-mail this week that …

Piedmont Wildlife Center gets new leadership

In the small cabin that is the office of Piedmont Wildlife Center, there are a turtle and a rabbit. In a few moments, a Barred owl emerges, perched on the arm of Gail Abrams, formerly the long-time executive director of the nature education nonprofit.

Her name is Athena, and she blinks, looking sleepy to be brought out in daytime.

She came to Piedmont in 2011. One of her eyes is blind. As she perches, she looks only at Abrams. “She’s bonded to me,” Abrams said, herself donning a shirt with a print of owls.

Outside, the drizzly rain makes the greenery surrounding the small cabin lush and abundant, almost overwhelmingly so. Chickweed, leafy docks, an elderberry bush and other plants, both beautiful and harmful, dot the landscape.

Karen McCall, the new executive director of the center, sits on the front porch to talk about the center’s mission and look ahead.

Photo gallery: The coronavirus crisis through the eyes of a photographer

Terror. Exhaustion. Bewilderment. Disappointment. Sadness. Anger. Despair? Hope? What are the emotions that we have experienced during the past month as the coronavirus crisis spread around the world? All of these and too many others. As the world began shutting down in March, photographer Bernard Thomas went into the world with his camera. Using his decades of experience and memories of Durham as staff photographer at The Herald-Sun, Thomas took photos of his day-to-day impressions of Durham as the crisis unfolded. The result is a powerful collection of images of sadness and desolation. And yes, there is hope. To view individual images on separate screens, click on the thumbnails below.    

Fears, stress as Asian restaurants focus on survival during coronavirus

At Gourmet Kingdom in Carrboro during a recent lunch hour, the restaurant is empty. A statewide shutdown on restaurants is in place because of the coronavirus. Outside on Main Street, the air is still and baking hot. People wander, beleaguered and stressed. Inside the restaurant, the air is cool – there is still some normalcy. David Yu, owner of Gourmet Kingdom, is rushing from phone to kitchen with takeout orders and back to the phone, stopping to grab containers of soups. “Business has slowed,” he admits, taking down the mask he’s been wearing to speak with a reporter. When asked if people have been nice to the restaurant, he replies, “I know what you mean.” “There are some regular customers. They’re all pretty understandable. They don’t have any hostility toward us. They understand business,” Yu said. “It’s definitely worrying,” he added. “It’s more worrying than for people who don’t own businesses. Everybody worries about their health, to not catch the virus. I’m worried for this business to survive.” Yu hopes the Paycheck Protection Program will …

No, the light rail was not a good idea. Part 2: The obvious questions and other objections

One year on, there are still two major questions about the Durham-Orange Light Rail Transit project, that was re-proposed in 2012 and then sporadically discussed in the community for years until late 2018, when it exploded into a toxic issue.
The questions: We’ve been going through a chaotic time. Why was GoTriangle so intent on pushing through a huge project instead of simply maintaining existing services?
And where did the $159 million spent on the light rail go?