About 50 local residents and students braved the rainy weather Monday night to participate in the annual Good Neighbor Walk, intended to help improve relations between long-term Northside residents and UNC students.
Divided into groups of about five, the participants met at the Hargraves Center in Chapel Hill and began their walk through the Northside community.
Aaron Bachenheimer, director of the UNC Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life and Community Involvement, told participants to introduce themselves, welcome new neighbors to the community and pass on information about local ordinances.
“We’re not out today to solve a bunch of problems,” he said. “We’re here to spend three to five minutes at each house talking about what it means to be a good neighbor.”
He said the majority of residents in the Northside community are not problematic. The Northside neighborhood is a historically black, low-income community between Columbia and Lloyd streets. Over the last decade, students have begun to rent homes in the neighborhood, causing property values to rise and force out many long-term residents who couldn’t afford to stay.
Lt. Lawrence Twiddy of the UNC Department of Public Safety said he hoped the walk helped facilitate a sense of community despite the differences between residents. “You have a mix of students and yearlong residents,” he said.
Twiddy said a Neighborhood Night Out event will be held on Sept. 12 at the Hargraves Center to further encourage friendly interaction between students and yearlong residents.
Robert Barker, a Mebane resident and UNC employee, said he also wants to help bridge the gap between students and year-long residents.
“It’s a great community effort,” he said.
Emily Gaspar, a Chapel Hill resident and UNC employee, said she hopes to provide students with more information about how to be a better neighbor.
Part of the walk’s mission is to educate students on local ordinances that might pertain to them as residents of the Northside neighborhood. The Chapel Hill Town Council passed an ordinance in January 2012 that prohibits more than four cars from parking at Northside homes. The ordinance was crafted in response to long-time residents’ growing complaints that students’ cars were filling up the neighborhood.
Students, especially members of Greek organizations, participated in the walk around Northside.
Senior Ross Masters, president of Chi Phi fraternity, said some students involved in fraternities or sororities live in the Northside neighborhood.
He said he was hoping students and year-long residents would learn to not “step on each other’s toes.”
Stephen Stephano, a UNC senior and president of Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity, agreed with Masters.
“We’re part of this community as well,” he said.
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