The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Monday January 24th

Resident Seeks End To Festival

Town manager will investigate petition

Eunice Brock of 319 Burlage Circle has been a resident of Chapel Hill since 1959 and remembers Apple Chill when it started in 1962.

"(Apple Chill) was by locals, composed of locals and for locals when it started," she said. "It had gotten to the point now where locals don't show."

Brock filed a petition to the Town Council last Monday requesting the body look into the possibility of changing or altering the nature of Apple Chill.

The council did not make any decisions on the issue but instead forwarded it on to the town manager for investigation. Several council members said Tuesday that Brock's concerns warrant further consideration.

Brock insists she is not against community spirit. Her concerns are more focused on who is enjoying the festivities and whether they're worth the cost as the town deals with a significant budget shortfall.

"These are very hard economic times for this area," she said. "Do we really need to be spending $33,000 when we've suspended nearly all of our capital projects?"

Every spring, downtown streets and numerous businesses shut down in anticipation of a crowd measuring in excess of 40,000. Brock said what used to be an enjoyable community event has now become a regional nuisance.

"The town is in gridlock, the noise is awful, and most of the people are from out of town," she said. "When I went last year, I saw a few politicians and a handful of others I knew. Outside of that, I didn't know anyone."

Brock said even if she had known anyone at the festival, she wouldn't have been able to talk to them with bands blasting music through speakers nearby.

Brock said annoyance is not her only reason for trying to get the event stopped. Businesses lose revenue every year on the day of the festival. "Merchants are losing money," she said. "I've been approached by several in regards to sponsoring the petition with me."

Council member Dorothy Verkerk said the petition has plenty of merit.

"It's a damned if you do, damned if you don't situation," she said. "I think people enjoy Apple Chill, but I also realize it costs the town a lot of money.

"I'll have to think long and hard on this one."

Council member Jim Ward echoed Verkerk's comments. "Reasonable people are making reasonable points," he said. "I've been a member of this community for over 25 years, and (Apple Chill) has changed."

Verkerk said people from outside Chapel Hill coming in to enjoy the festivities is just part of the scene.

"It's important to realize that Chapel Hill is a leader in the state," she said. "It's important we offer these kinds of activities to other communities."

Brock said the issue really boils down to practicality. "I love this community, I want to see local activities, but why spend so much when we've got such problems?

"It's like spending money on other things when you need food."

The City Editor can be reached at citydesk@unc.edu.

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