Cyclist killed following collision with vehicle on Duke University Rd. / West Chapel Hill St.

The collision happened on October 18. Kent Winberry was operating his bicycle, traveling east on Duke University Road. He entered the intersection of that road with Chapel Hill Road (where the name of Duke University Road changes to West Chapel Hill St.).

At that intersection, a motorist approached from the opposite direction. That motorist, apparently failing to notice Winberry, began to turn left, intending to drive South on Chapel Hill Rd.

The motorist collided with Winberry in a type of incident which is often referred to as a “left cross.” Winberry was rushed to Duke Hospital with critical injuries. He passed away last night.

My thoughts and wishes are with Winberry’s friends and family.

I didn’t know Kent Winberry, but I know where he was hit. I have ridden through that intersection probably hundreds of times.

This is the second time in as many years that I’ve written a blog post about a cycling fatality in Durham. This isn’t really what I signed up for here. Please, stop killing cyclists.


I rode along the stretch of road where this incident occurred and have recorded a video of the location. I hope something can be done to improve safety in this area.

Bennett Place scores crucial grants to acquire historic parcel

As mentioned previously, the historic Civil War site has been struggling to come up with the funds needed to secure a neighbouring parcel. The state had until the end of September to come up with the $310,000, but it fell short; they then reached out to the current property owner who gave them an extra month.

WRAL is now reporting that the funds have been acquired:

The bulk of the money came in two large donations of $150,000 each, Kevin Cherry, deputy secretary of the Department of Cultural Resources said Wednesday the state received two grants of $150,000 each. The other $13,000 came from smaller donations, including someone in Virginia who sent a check for $18.65 to mark the year the Civil War ended.

Yeah, the big spender with the $18.65 probably sealed the deal there.

WRAL doesn’t mention where those $150,000 “donations” came from, although elsewhere in that article they also describe them as “grants” (protip: grants aren’t technically the same thing as donations, WRAL). The initial Herald article reported that the state had originally been seeking a grant from the Civil War Trust, and failing to secure that grant is what put the land in jeopardy.

2014 early voting is upon us! Here are the endorsements!

TLDR: Here is a PDF of the endorsements from major PACs. You can’t use electronic devices while voting, so you might want to have that on paper.

2014 brings changes to early voting: namely, there’s less of it. So all you slackers better get out there soon, or you’ll have to vote on election day itself, and that’s just no fun at all.

The BOE provides a PDF that lists when and where you can get your early vote on, but the most sure fire option is the BOE office at 201 N. Roxboro, which is open every day between now and Saturday, November 1. On weekdays it’ll be open at least from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., but if that doesn’t work for you check out the PDF for weekend and evening hours.

There’s another PDF which gives you a list of candidates. If you’re unsure on whom to vote for, you can just crib off of the endorsements. You can find out what your ballot looks like here.

For your convenience, I have colored Democrats blue and Republicans red. (You may notice that there is no red. That should not really be a surprise).

Indy Week Durham People’s Alliance Durham Committee Friends of Durham
US Senate
Kay Hagan Kay Hagan Kay Hagan
US House 1 GK Butterfield GK Butterfield GK Butterfield
US House 4 David Price David Price David Price
US House 6 Laura Fjeld Laura Fjeld
US House 13 Brenda Cleary Brenda Cleary
State Supreme Court – Chief Justice Mark Martin Mark Martin
State Supreme Court Associate Justice – Martin seat Sam Ervin IV Sam Ervin IV Sam Ervin IV
State Supreme Court Associate Justice – Hudson seat Robin Hudson Robin Hudson Robin Hudson
State Supreme Court Associate Justice – Beasley seat Cheri Beasley Cheri Beasley Cheri Beasley
State Appeals Court – Martin seat John Arrowood John Arrowood Keischa Lovelace
State Appeals Court – Hunter seat Lucy Inman Lucy Inman Lucy Inman
State Appeals Court – Davis seat Mark Davis Mark Davis Mark Davis
State Appeals Court – Stroud seat Donna Stroud
Constitutional Amendment FOR AGAINST
NC Senate 20 Floyd McKissick Floyd McKissick
NC Senate 22 Mike Woodard Mike Woodard Mike Woodard
NC House 29 Larry Hall Larry Hall
NC House 30 Paul Luebke
NC House 31 Mickey Michaux Mickey Michaux Mickey Michaux
NC House 50 Graig Meyer Graig Meyer
District Court 14 – Evans seat Steven Storch Pat Evans Pat Evans Pat Evans
District Court 14 – Gordon seat Nancy Gordon Nancy Gordon Fred Battaglia Fred Battaglia
District Court 14 – Morey seat Marcia Morey Marcia Morey
District Court 14 – Hill seat James Hill James Hill
District Court 14 – Walker seat Henry Pruette Doretta Walker Doretta Walker Henry Pruette
District Court 14 – Wilks seat Brian Wilks Brian Wilks
Durham DA Roger Echols
Durham Clerk of Court Archie Smith
Sheriff Mike Andrews Mike Andrews
Soil and Water District Supervisor Ray Eurquhart, Will Wilson Ray Eurquhart, Will Wilson Ray Eurquhart, Katie Locklier

Some general thoughts on the endorsements: man, it seems like the Friends and the Committee are really slacking lately. The Friends don’t appear to have endorsed anybody outside of the Durham District Court judges, and they haven’t even updated their web site to reflect these endorsements. The Committee? They did at least endorse a full slate, but I can’t actually find their endorsements outside of the Herald either. Their most prominent online presence, which appears to be their Facebook page, hasn’t been updated in months.

I know not everybody uses the Internet, and that the Committee especially does more direct outreach. I get that. But if I can’t google [NAME OF YOUR PAC ENDORSEMENTS 2014] and get back meaningful results, that’s a problem for you.

Kudos to the Indy and Durham Peoples’ Alliance for actually making this easy on me by plainly listing all of your endorsements.

The constitutional amendment is a curiosity; NC is apparently the only state which doesn’t allow defendants to waive their right to a jury trial. Although it saves money by reducing the number of juries, some people (like the Committee) believe this right could be used against uneducated defendants to their disadvantage. It’s unclear whether that’s true, which is why the People’s Alliance took no stance and the Indy supports it.

OK, vote’s on. Have fun kids!

Council approves East Main St. site as new home of DPDHQ

This site had been the front runner for a while, and according to the Herald the council sealed the deal last night:

City Council members signed off Monday on the choice of a site for Durham’s next police headquarters, agreeing to spend $5.7 million to buy a 4.5-acre property for it off East Main Street.

The city intends to demolish the historic Carpenter Motor Co. buildings as well as the small restaurant Not Just Wings which are presently on the site. Open Durham has an early drawing of the potential footprint.

The city intends to foot the bill for the project in part by selling off the old HQ, whose last appraisal came in at $5.1M. Still, the $4.5M price tag for the new East Main St. parcel was too high for Eugene Brown who provided the lone dissent in the 6-1 vote.

This sort of structure is typically built like a fortress with limited ingress and egress points, so you could expect for the streetscape to be pretty bleak. David Arneson of Center Studio Architecture brought up such concerns on the ABCD Durham mailing list, and presented two alternate layouts:



I don’t know how feasible Arneson’s alternatives are, but the idea of getting a usable streetscape on East Main St. here is really compelling. Councilman Schewel did respond and allay some of the fears regarding the setback for surface parking along East Main:

Of the several “fits” we saw for the site at the council work session, none of them included a parking lot in front of the building along Main St. I feel very comfortable in saying that the City staff planning this HQ are going to make sure that that doesn’t happen.

However the site ends up being developed, it’s now pretty certain that it will be developed. The opportunity available to citizens now is to help ensure it’s developed responsibly.

Another big question: what’s going to come of the old site? As of right now, it’s hard to predict, since we’re still several years out. I personally have kind of an affinity for the structure, which is in a style without much representation in Durham. It’s pretty safe to assume that the city will sell the site, and I really think it has the potential to be a lot more interesting than the generic student housing across the street at 605 West.

The Lake Crabtree bike trails are safe – until 2015, anyway

Yesterday WRAL posted an update on the status of the bike trails at lake Crabtree, whose future depends on the continued cooperation of the RDU airport authority who presently leases the parcel to Wake County (previously discussed here):

Airport spokeswoman Mindy Hamlin said the new deal would have an annual renewal through 2025, giving the airport authority more flexibility.

“Annual renewal” for “more flexibility.” Basically, that means that the airport wants the ability to re-use the land on short notice. This portion of Lake Crabtree Park [NB: WRAL seems to think this parcel is not part of the park, but I think they’re wrong; check out this map from Wake County which does clearly show that it’s included] can still go away on a whim from RDU.

Why would RDU want the ability to do things with the land? Why, perhaps they want to develop it, just as their plan states.

The reprieve until next year doesn’t change the equation in a meaningful way. RDU has issued vague assurances that they don’t have any plans to “develop” that land “at this time” (watch the video from WRAL), but that doesn’t mean much. They might well have plans to “sell” it tomorrow or develop it “at another time” for all we know.

Note how, in an apparent effort to avoid inspiring any confidence that the park will continue to exist, the RDU rep goes on to talk about all the reasons that the airport might want to develop its land right after saying it doesn’t have any plans to do so.

If you care about this park, don’t become complacent. I feel like the best way to really assure its future is to have Wake County buy it from RDU. I’m sure that’s a tough sell to the taxpayers in Wake County, but it’s difficult to imagine RDU leaving this land alone forever out of the kindness of their own hearts. There’s money to be made, after all!

What is this “Durham Innovation District” thing?

You may have seen headlines about some thing called “Durham.ID.” Despite the name, it is 1) not related to and 2) not even actually a domain name; rather it’s… an “Innovation District.”

What’s an “Innovation District?” Well, apparently:

“We want it to be technology; we want it to be big data; we want it to be all kinds of interactions day and night to make this truly a fun place to be,” he said.

Yeah, OK. Nothing says “fun” like “big data.” But let’s roll with it.

Here’s the tldr; version: basically, this is a potentially large mixed use development (skewed towards office space but with residential and commercial components) which is a joint venture between Longfellow Partners and Measurement Inc. From what I can tell, Measurement owns most of the property presently; it’s unclear to me whether they intend to simply sell it all to Longfellow or whether they want to retain some ownership stake going forward. The project will run from Central Park to West Village to DSA to the DAP. About a third of the proposed space will come from extant historic structures which are in various states of readiness for occupancy, and the rest will come from infill of vacant lots and surface parking.

The PR material certainly invokes the ATC, but this project will lean more heavily on new construction. They’ve got a map in PDF form over at WRAL, and I’ve used that to fill in the footprint on google maps (more or less). Retained historic structures are highlighted in green, non-historic but completed structures in red; everything else will be used for new construction:


At first blush, I can tell you one thing that makes me excited: they’re going to kill off a massive chunk of surface parking and replace it with decks. A lot of those lots seem completely expendable. My only minor concern is the loss of the Farmer’s Market lot on Morris St., and I hope they can continue to provide free or cheap parking for the Market going forward.

The plan calls for the preservation of several historic structures, some of which are already in use. The Carmichael Warehouse, the Brodie Duke warehouse, the Imperial Building, the BC building, and the Power House will all be retained (Carmichael already is leased by Duke; I’m unclear on the others). Everything else will be new construction (save for the already completed but seemingly vacant generic office building on Hunt known as “Morris Ridge”).

Several structures aren’t going to survive. There are two small commercial / light industrial buildings across from the DAP that will be demolished. There are three houses on Morris that look like they’re going to be demolished; two of them look extremely run down and one seems to house Burke-Little & Associates. The Young Roofing Company building also looks like it’s getting the axe, as is the DPS building at the corner of Hunt and Morriss.

The two curious residential properties on Liggett are also going away, and that’s the site of “proposed public park.” I’m unclear on the fate of the weird light industrial building on that block that seems to still exist in the plans for some reason.

I’d say I’m tentatively optimistic right now. The first “phase” of construction looks like it will involve demo of the structures on Liggett St. to make way for the park, demo of the DPS building, and its replacement with two new office buildings and new parking on that block in the extreme southeast of the project. Presumably they’ll also work on road realignment at this time.

Reading between the lines, I don’t think they’re in any hurry to get this all done. The phased approach will allow them to build out at a pace that matches demand.

This project will be worth keeping an eye on; it’s exciting to see a focus on office space rather than just slamming down more residential. All those people will need to work somewhere, you know…

The RDU Airport Authority may intend to sell off a large part of Lake Crabtree Park

OK, this is 1) technically not in Durham and 2) maybe nothing, but in the last few days I’ve noticed a lot of grumbling about the fate of the Lake Crabtree Park in Morisville.

This park has long been a popular destination for mountain bikers, with an extensive network of trails for all skill levels. Once upon a time, when I lived in (gasp) Cary, I would routinely hop on the greenways and ride up to the park; its central location near RDU makes it very easy to get to, and it’s still one of the most convenient trails for me to get to coming from downtown Durham.

So, what’s going on here, anyway? I was surprised to find out that the trail system resides on property that’s owned by the airport authority and leased to Wake County. That means that, should RDU ever be inclined to develop the land, a huge wooded chunk of the park will be lost and converted to [insert development type here].

The County’s current lease on the area expired last year, and RDU has yet to renew it, which has raised a lot of speculation that the end is nigh. RDU’s latest study indicates that this would be a good location for:

Partly restricted, high-performance development (office, hospitality) set back from the lakefront with direct access to waterfront park.

Some folks at TriangleMTB have been looking into the situation. They’ve also put together a web site specifically to raise awareness.

The Herald ran an article on the situation last week, and they got a response from the RDU authority:

Airport spokeswoman Mindy Hamlin said a lease for another 149 acres, known as the “FATS parcel,” expired last year but negotiations are under way to extend it.

“We are currently working with the county to determine what the length of the next agreement will be,” Hamlin said.

Airport officials say they have no immediate plans to develop the property.

“No immediate plans to develop” – those are the Herald’s words, not the authority’s, but that phrase leaves a massive amount of wiggle room (e.g. RDU might plan to sell immediately, or plan to develop in the future, and that could still have been a technically true statement).

It’s not really obvious to me what if any impact Durham residents can have on this process, since the park itself is just across the border in Wake County. Some potential “outs” here involve some government purchasing the land from RDU; say, DENR or Wake County. But it seems pretty clear that RDU thinks this parcel holds a lot of untapped potential, and even if they don’t act on that today, its future is very much uncertain.

Zagster bike rentals show up on Duke campus

Following the end of Duke’s in-house bike lending program last year, the student government and the university worked together to find a replacement. They gave the nod to a company called Zagster, and this week I’ve started seeing the bikes on campus:

This one’s on West Campus in a not-so-visible location behind the Allen building near the quad. I also spotted one near the main bus stop on East Campus earlier this week (but failed to grab a photo).

There are four stations to start with: two on West Campus, one on Central Campus, and the one on East Campus. Although the location behind Allen pictured above isn’t exactly prime real estate for visibility, it could be pretty convenient assuming you know where to look for it. When I swung by it looked like the rack was full, except for a single bike that I saw somebody take out of the rack as I approached.

I’m always glad to see this sort of initiative, but with the bike stations located only on campus the potential for wider utility will go unrealized. I’d love to see the city some how tie into Duke’s efforts; imagine how much more useful this kind of program would be if there were stations at Ninth St., downtown, etc.

Stay and Play Snack Cafe is shutting down

At this rate I’m going to need a depressing segment called “Cafe Closing Corner” or something, because yet another downtown cafe is shutting down:

Since Stay & Play is a young, family business with tight margins, the cost increase means the café will be priced out of its current location.

The original owners of the cafe were hoping to sell the business so they could focus on their growing family, but a rent increase seems to have priced the business out of its current location. You might remember that Stay and Play launched following a successful kickstarter back in 2012.

The business actually had (from my perspective) a really cool concept: it was part coffee shop, part playroom, and it was a pretty great place to take your small kids to get a moment’s respite from the chaos. It’ll be missed.

I really feel like downtown is lacking in spaces for young children. There are a few oases: The Parlour, BCBB, and Pompieri are all very kid friendly, but you can’t spend your entire day eating; there just aren’t many places for the kids to play. The Fun Zone, another kid oriented downtown business, also shut down recently (last year?).