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You are here: home > opinion > in my opinion

To measure the effect of how a growing county benefits jobs and citizens

By Tom Glendinning
Posted Saturday, April 19, 2014

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Pittsboro, NC - Thank you, sir, for your suggestion of retiring to Chatham Park. I have considered it. I do like my life in the country though, as hard as it is sometimes.

To qualify and answer some of your points: "quality of development" may not be in your wheelhouse. It is in mine. I have been a contractor for over forty years and have seen different levels of quality. Visit the Governor's Club, Fearrington, or even Randy Voller's subdivision in Pittsboro. Then, compare to the public housing development in southeast Durham built forty years ago. The difference should become obvious.

The reason that real estate sales have lagged is the economy, not their planning or quality. (Note I left out the "stupid" from campaign slogans of the 1990's.) We have a good market here and have been insulated from the poor national economy. Developments do employ local people and have for decades.

To measure the effect of how a growing county benefits jobs and citizens, I will use the per capita income from the 1960's, when I moved here, compared to today's figure. The per capita income for Chatham ca. 1965 was $2000. Today, it is $35,426. That is per person, i.e. per capita. I would say that surpasses any adjustment from COLI, COLA or inflation. 1700% in fifty years. That is an increase of 34% per year. Yes, a lot of that is due to retirees moving here with their incomes. A lot is due to the jobs in the Triangle. But I know too many natives who have worked for RB Fitch, or other developers who have hired contractors from the county. Development does create jobs despite what you wish to believe. And we have attracted some businesses, despite the agenda of the previous board of commissioners to stop business and building. We neglected the duty of recruitment for the last forty years. It's time to get some more employers to replace the ones we lost.

As to your doubt about firms contacting CCCC for courses which would lead to employment, they have. A proposed hospital asked whether a nursing specialty could be taught at our campus. Another firm asked if the college would supply courses for its jobs and offered a curriculum. But you jump the gun by demanding that all these questions by answered in fact before the development is approved. The first step is approval of plans and permits. The next is phase development. The next is expansion into more phases. When the commercial part is developed, we will see the results of jobs, growth of income, an increase in supporting industries and businesses.

The recommended phase one development proposed at the town meeting in February was for 20% of the commerical portion of the Park to be approved. That portion is close to the total commercial and industrial square footage in Siler City. Not just a spec of dust or an imaginary promise.

As to the water quality of Jordan Lake, there is only one part of it that is truly impaired, the northeastern portion fed by the low flow New Hope Creek from Durham. You may choose to educate yourself about the lake water quality. I wrote an article in 2011 on the topic.

Or you can visit the DENR, Water Quality Section website to look at testing results for yourself and to ask state officials about Jordan drinking water supply. There are test results not published on the website.

The Haw River does not supply the main portion of Jordan with drinking water anyway. That would only occur during an extreme drought in the Triangle while the Triad received normal or above normal rainfall.

Six schools have been built since I moved here. More will be built as needed, and required by the Department of Public Instruction (or Education). Chatham has an drinking water allocation of six million gallon per day from the lake. So far, we are taking a small portion of that allotment. The state approves wastewater treatment and construction plans. Chatham does not. There is sufficient flow in the Haw River to accept the flow from a Park plant with higher effluent standards than have ever been required before. In fact, the effluent from the Western Wake Partners new plant will be cleaner than the water in the Haw.

I am glad that you have the freedom to express your opinion. I am even glad for the debate. But I can not justify spending too much time erasing the traces of lock step, irrational, uninformed thinking that is the trademark of some or most of the opposition to this development. When I moved here, I was offered a light hearted rejection of outsiders, "Will the last damn Yankee please shut the door." It was more a statement of newcomer's attitude than it was a rejection of my birthplace. I have it on good authority that in 150 years, a court will convene to vote on whether to allow me native status or not. I have been here fifty years, to my credit.

"We are not ready for Chatham Park." Well, sir. Have you bothered to look up population forecasts at census.gov for the county. In 2040-2050, our population will grow by same number as proposed for the Park. So they are coming, whether we build it or not. I would prefer having them in one location, in a planned community, with all the services necessary and with our government approvals. The option is to spread them out over 150,000 acres without any services, planning or approval, excepting building permits. Not a smart choice.

And I am considering your suggestion to move to a retirement village, if I could afford one. But that's another topic of debate and has nothing to do with Chatham Park. I would then have more timeto plague the Chatlist, the Journal and the County Line with my opinions. Be careful what you wish for.

I remember another old saying about a horse bearing a gift. This opportunity will only knock once. You may rue the rejection for the rest of your life, should you stay here as I have, to get to know the people who built this county.

 
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