I just returned home from Fearrington where we had a rousing afternoon discussion about activism, and where McIntyre’s sold a bunch of books.
At the after party I was asked about my stance on Chatham Park. That’s the 7100 acre development that surrounds us, which proposes to build a city of 55,000 people on top of us all.
I said that I didn’t think it was going to happen, since the developer bought at the peak of the real estate bubble. I ducked and dodged, but my usual arguments fell on deaf ears.
What I heard was “Your silence on the issue makes you appear complicit.”
Tomorrow night is another Town Meeting on the subject, and since I don’t like the word “complicit,” I thought I would put my thoughts out here:
Dear Town Board,
For years the good people of Chatham Park have been attending public meetings, and meeting with us in private, and assuring us that everything will be all right.
For years we have welcomed them in. They pay a lot for land. And they are going to donate a hospital. And a waste water treatment plant that we desperately need.
But when they show their cards, we see a 7100 acre “Planned Development District” with only 234 acres of parkland identified. We see a developmental density that is more intense than anything the Haw River or Jordan Lake have ever confronted. They live in Cary, they like Cary, and they are offering to create a new Cary here.
The Haw River and Jordan Lake, and all of us, reside in the last wilderness the Triangle has to offer. It has been referred to as the “kidneys of our watershed.” Does paving improve kidney function?
No doubt Chatham Park has sophisticated planners. And sophisticated models for making money from their plans.
It makes me wonder if our planners and our models can keep up with them. It makes me wonder if we are going to be able to get what we want, or will the spoils only go to them?
Every time the bell rings on Wall Street, and every time we celebrate the rise of the markets we forget that a forest was lost. Or a watershed was destroyed. Or a culture was bulldozed. A planet of finite resources cannot sustain unlimited growth.
Perhaps we should put the brakes on this process. Perhaps we should tell Chatham Park that we need some time to determine what we want.
You can still do this. You were elected to speak for our town. And our town could use a broader conversation about what it is that we want to be.
Chatham Resident, Pittsboro Denizen