Local News

Chapel Hill Officials Seek Changes For Well-Known Gatherings

Posted May 18, 2006 10:02 a.m. EDT

— The North Carolina Tar Heels' post-game celebrations on Franklin Street are legendary. From big wins over cross-town rivals to Final Four victories, the celebrations attract thousands of people to Franklin Street.

"We've been the victim of our own successes here in Chapel Hill," said Mayor Pro Tem Bill Strom.

Now a report by the town's Parks and Recreation Commission suggests that non-sanctioned events like post-game celebrations be scaled back. Police have had to shut down Franklin Street for the gatherings, and the events usually cost the city more than $20,000 in overtime pay for police officers.

Commission members would like for such celebrations to become the University of North Carolina's responsibility. Their report calls for UNC to take a lead role in hosting post-game events in or around the Dean Smith Center. This would keep the celebration confined to campus and help keep students off Franklin Street.

The proposed changes come after two separate shootings at this year's Apple Chill after-party that injured three people. The Town Council canceled the event and wants to get back to what they call "community building" events.

"I would like to see a smaller-scale event that has arts as its emphasis," said Town Council member Laurin Easthom.

Any talk of alternative events may also spell doom for the town's annual Halloween bash. Town leaders said the recommendations would help them focus more on town-sanctioned events.

"Protecting public safety and keeping our citizens engaged, but also safe is important to us," said Strom.

One celebration that's not included in the report is the annual Fourth of July event. The Town Council will hear all the recommendations during its meeting on Monday.