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The Daily Tar Heel

SEAC Attempts to Influence Future of Lot No. 5

The Student Environmental Action Coalition gathered in the quad to raise awareness about options for lot No. 5.

Although few in number, members of the Student Environmental Action Coalition said they hoped to raise awareness of the future of parking lot No. 5.

SEAC opposes business development in parking lot No. 5, which is located near Michael Jordan's 23 on Franklin Street. Town officials are looking for ideas about how to use the lot's space, a key part of the town's Downtown Small Area Plan, which was adopted in March 2000.

"(Our) idea is to let the students know what's going on in the community and inspire them to have a vision of a nice area that will unite East and West Franklin Street," said freshman Ann Warshaw, an SEAC member.

Volunteers offered brownies and coffee to students who walked through the quad. They explained the situation and described SEAC's vision for the space.

"I really would like to see a place where different people can come and unite," said SEAC Co-chairwoman Johanna Kertesz, a senior environmental science major.

"I'd like to see representations of the community in a place that's open and where people can express their talents."

SEAC members shared their hopes for a town square that would encourage and foster the arts through cafes, galleries and an open courtyard.

To emphasize the benefits of the fine arts and music, they displayed paintings and had several bands play.

Sophomore Jon Thompson, Big Fat Gap, The Walkons and sophomore Scott O'Day were among those who volunteered to play.

"This is a worthy cause," said O'Day, a music major and acoustic guitarist. "So many times we'd like to hang out on Franklin Street, but there's really nowhere to go."

Graduate student Audrey De Nazelle said she was impressed that SEAC members were demonstrating what they wanted to see implemented.

"Chapel Hill needs a richer, more intellectual life with cultural experiences," de Nazelle said. "(SEAC) is doing it instead of just talking about it."

Students who stopped to snack and watch the entertainment had the chance to talk and read about the situation with parking lot No. 5 and to sign a petition proposing it be turned into a town square.

Ellie Blake, a junior biology major who attended the gathering, said she had not heard of the parking lot No. 5 debate before she stopped at the SEAC table.

"I signed the petition," Blake said. "It's letting those in charge of the issue know that there are people supporting other options."

SEAC members attributed much of their knowledge and inspiration to Greg Gangi, director of student affairs for the Carolina Environmental Program.

Gangi stopped by the table to encourage SEAC members and to promote turning parking lot No. 5 into green space.

"If you don't have entertaining public spaces then you have a society that lives on TV and the Internet and is disconnected," Gangi said. "Well-organized spaces connect people."

The City Editor can be reached

at citydesk@unc.edu.

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