Deadline approachesBy Afrique I. Kilimanjaro, Editor
Published: March 7, 2013
Editor’s UPDATE: Continue to send your letters to Chancellor Martin voicing your concerns regarding the Florida Street Extension even after the March 8 deadline. The A&T Board of Trustees will convene April 19 at 2 p.m.
Friday, March 8 is the deadline for the public to submit letters to the North Carolina A&T State University Chancellor’s office to express opinions on the proposed Florida Street Extension. This proposed road is to cut through A&T farm land.
A&T Chancellor Harold Martin held a town hall meeting on Feb. 11. Those individuals who expressed their opinions at the public forum resoundingly opposed the Florida Street Extension. As I wrote in a previous editorial, I also oppose this road.
Over the past month, there have been disturbing occurrences involving people who are supposed to protect the college and the local citizenry. Allow me to explain. As the town hall concluded, A&T alumnus and noted Greensboro historian/archivist, Lewis Brandon asked several A&T staff members if they would sign a petition circulating on behalf of Friends of the A&T Farm. The petition read, “Petition of Denial. We the undersigned alumni and supporters of North Carolina A&T State University (NCA&T), petition the University Board of Trustees to deny the City of Greensboro’s request to extend East Florida Street (a residential street) across NCA&T Farm to McConnell Rd. This proposal does not enhance the farm or its workings.”
Several staffers stated that they could not sign this petition, which was presented to the university’s board of trustees on Feb 22, because they “were asked to be here [at the town hall] to support the chancellor.” I’ve been wondering exactly what this phrase “support the chancellor” means. Does this mean the chancellor is in favor of the road? Do the freedoms of higher education extend to A&T staff? Or do the words of late A&T Chancellor Warmoth T. Gibbs Sr. not apply here? He once said, “We teach our students how to think, not what to think.”
People with close ties to Greensboro’s city government have revealed that the proposed four lane road with bike lanes, a median, curbs and sidewalks would actually remove 17.8 acres of farm land and not 2.8 acres as initially stated. A&T officials asked the Greensboro City Council to delay a vote regarding the Florida Street Extension until after both the town hall and the A&T Board of Trustees had an opportunity to meet. Well, the town hall occurred and the people have said a resounding, “No” to the road. The board of trustees met on Friday, February 22. A small group of alumni, Greensboro residents and former university employees were in attendance. The issue was not voted on during the trustees’ meeting. The board’s next meeting will be on Friday, April 19, at 2p.m.
The next disturbing moment happened with none other than State Rep. Marcus Brandon, who also attended the A&T Trustees meeting on Feb. 22. In a conversation with East Greensboro resident Sharon Hightower and me, Brandon said he really has no position on the Florida Street Extension running on A&T farm land. He added a stinger, “It [the farm] won’t be there anyway in 15 years…” Guilford County, that’s the position of your elected official. With alleged political advocates like Brandon in Raleigh, those who love and support A&T are in deep trouble.
I also discovered recently that many people who are affiliated with the Hayes Taylor YMCA believe the Florida Street Extension will be an asset to that proposed new facility. When people who have always had strong opinions about everything suddenly say, “I don’t have a position on the A&T Farm matter,” it’s because they have motives which may ultimately harm the farm. Be aware, something is brewing that will not benefit the farm or North Carolina A&T State University.
Why is the construction of this road so important, over the wishes of the residents who are concerned about safety, traffic, pollution and a decline in their property values? Residents near the farm and even further down Florida Street will undoubtedly and ultimately be pushed out of their homes. Those who attended the town hall heard Chancellor Martin emphatically say that “supporting this road will be political suicide” for those officials who wish to be re-elected.
If you care about the preservation of the A&T Farm for future generations, join me in opposition to the Florida Street Extension by sending a letter to the Chancellor Martin; 1601 E. Market Street; Dowdy Building, Suite 418; Greensboro, N.C. 27411.
Contact Afrique I. Kilimanjaro at email@example.com. Anonymous letters to the editor will not be accepted.