All posts tagged: durham

The music of the Ciompi Quartet

On a recent bright winter day, the members of the Ciompi Quartet gathered at Duke University to play. Inside the airy concert hall space of Baldwin Auditorium, the quartet started, stopped, and tweaked the way they played. An audio technician sat to the side with a laptop and recording equipment for the session. Negotiations abounded. Because of coronavirus restrictions, the group played with their masks on. And then there were the discussions with the composers, both in person and over Zoom, on how to best approach their pieces. The four pieces were by students in Duke’s Music Department. The music was challenging, abstract, moody, with discordant melodies, full of feelings of disconnection and isolation. The music uncomfortably heightened what was going on in the world. One of the pieces was even called, “Disconnected.” After one successful “take,” viola player Jonathan Bagg asked, “How did that sound to you, James?” The composer, himself taken aback by the beauty of the quartet’s playing, had to snap back to reality before responding, “That was great. Thank you.” Despite …

Election Day 2020

On the morning of Tuesday, Nov. 3, this year, people quietly, wearily went about their business, too exhausted to be excited about the election. Later that night, voters would see the results of this contentious, overly partisan fight between President Donald Trump and the former Vice President Joe Biden for the White House, in this historic election that has been much referred to as a fight for the soul of this country. For more than a year, there have been protests, bumper stickers, yard signs, a screaming, shouting Democratic Party primary, followed by the fears, anxiety and exhaustion resulting from the lockdowns from the coronavirus. But in the end, many people still went about the voting process like normal, rushing to cast their votes before polls closed at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday. At Hope Valley Baptist Church in Durham, toward the end of the day, voters were still rolling into the parking lot, bringing their kids with them after work. Erin Durkin, a volunteer with Democracy NC, a Morrisville-based nonprofit advocating for voter’s rights, had been …

Election 2020: Biden in Durham

By Karen Tam Former Vice President Joe Biden made a mysterious trip to Durham on Sunday where few people heard or saw him. Biden had a virtual meeting with African-American faith leaders and he spoke inside the Riverside High School campus to a selected few. As he spoke at Riverside, Redouane and Kim Hafidi of Durham wore their “VOTE” masks as they stood outside the fenced area. Redouane Hafidi, originally from Morocco, said he thought Biden would be a better president who will be more supportive of the immigrant population. Eight-year-old Owen Weinard of Durham, along with his mother, Ashley Weinard, also waited outside Riverside, hoping to get a glimpse of Biden. Owen said he is also counting the years till he can vote. Later in the afternoon, the Latino part of the Biden campaign, Todos con Biden, organized a car parade. Cars gathered at the Compare Foods shopping center on University Drive, lining up for what would become a horn-honking caravan to the South Regional Library for early voting. Biden did not make an appearance at the Todos …

Blog post: Pierce Freelon has been appointed to the Durham City Council. But is it legal?

Durham City Council voted on Aug. 31 to appoint Pierce Freelon to the Ward 3 seat. The seat had been left vacant by Vernetta Alston in April when she left for the 29th district seat on the state House of Representatives. Freelon is a musician and son of the late architect Phil Freelon and jazz musician Nnenna Freelon. He had run unsuccessfully for the state senate this year and for Durham mayor in 2017. In April, the city council was debating whether to appoint someone to the seat or to let the public decide on election day. So why was the appointment of Freelon suddenly made some four months after Alston left? And was this action legal? Both the city charter and the state statute are written in such a way that they require the appointment to be made soon after the vacancy occurs, and that the appointment should be in place only until when the public can elect a new representative. That is, the law protects the public’s right to vote for their elected …

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 approves $8.6 million for four soccer fields at Hoover Road Park Project

The Durham City Council has approved $8.6 million for the construction of the Hoover Road Park Project, a proposal by the Parks & Recreation Department to build four soccer fields for tournaments off N.C. 98. The project, which totals $9.5 million, is planned for North Hoover Road, directly across from the Wheels Fun Park. In January 2017, Durham City purchased the two parcels for the project. Totaling 50 acres at 632 N. Hoover Rd. and 621 Cheek Rd., the parcels’ assessed value were $267,660 and $574,950, according to tax records. Durham City bought them for $1.25 million. Since then, Hoover Road Park Project has been in the design phase. With the city council’s approval of the $8.6 million, the project moves into build and Parks & Rec has opened the project up to bids. Construction is slated to begin in July and last for about 16 months, according to the department. Tom Dawson, assistant director of Durham Parks & Rec, said on Tuesday that a private school had previously wanted to build a baseball field …

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 …