Community members in neighborhoods surrounding N.C. Central University are caught in a dilemma:
They love NCCU and support its growth and development, but feel frustrated and disrespected by the way the University’s growth is extending into their neighborhoods.
“I would like to make it clear that we are not anti-growth in regard to the University, but that we have specific concerns that we feel are directly related to its expansion,” said Dolores Eaton, president of the Old Hillside Neighborhood Association.
Eaton worked at NCCU 35 years ago as an academic skills advisor.
Eaton said neighborhood residents have several concerns: parked cars blocking driveways, speeding traffic, storm run-off below the newly constructed Mary M. Townes Science Complex, and trash left in streets and yards.
“I question the students’ pride in the University, in addition to their respect for the image of our community, which is a very historical community,” said Eaton.
Augustus Thompson, a Moline Street resident, said, “Students walk up and down the streets. There’s loud music. They don’t speak. And when they are parking, they block driveways.”
Dupree Street residents King and Marguerite Sauls have lived in the neighborhood for only three months, and are already frustrated by NCCU expansion issues.
They said their driveway is consistently blocked by students, and they frequently find trash in their yard. Marguerite Sauls said students often park carelessly.
“I feel like calling the cops every day, but they are students and I don’t want to do that,” King said. “But respect is respect.”
Cleola Wiley, who has a daughter at NCCU, and is another Dupree Street resident, is upset about her driveway being blocked.
“I hate to have Durham police tow them, but at the same token, students have to respect other people’s property,” Wiley said.
“I will allow two or three students to park in my yard, as long as they ask, and I can get in and out,” she said.
The goal of the Old Hillside Neighborhood Association, an active participant in the Fayetteville Street Planning Group, is to restore and preserve the historically black neighborhoods surrounding NCCU, as well as represent the needs and concerns of residents.
The northern and southern boundaries of the historic neighborhoods extend from Pettigrew Street to Cornwallis Road, while the eastern and western boundaries extend from Alston Avenue to Roxboro Road. This area, called College Heights, is directly affected by NCCU’s growth.
According to Eaton, the association has repeatedly attempted to meet with NCCU personnel, land developers and local and state government officials to work out issues, but to no avail.
She said the absence of one or more parties from these meetings creates an impasse.
Bertie Braswell, a member of the Old Hillside Neighborhood Association, urges NCCU students to get more involved in preserving the community.
“We need the young people to get more involved in government pertaining to community affairs, because unless we go in droves, African Americans can’t get anything done,” Braswell said.