Yvonne Brown hasn’t seen any extra open parking spaces in Chapel Hill just because most UNC students left town two weeks ago.
Brown, who for 25 years has been an attendant in parking decks and lots on Rosemary Street, says she has seen business increase in that time even student enrollment today is only one-fourth the usual number.
Summer in Chapel Hill has begun.
Brown says summer parking becomes more convenient for Chapel Hill visitors, Franklin Street customers and summer school students. However, that does not mean there are fewer cars rolling in and out of her lot every day.
“The lot is actually busier in the summer, because the parking spaces are more open,” says Brown. “During the school year, students come and park for hours at a time, and the lots stay full pretty much all day. Compared to three weeks ago, we’ve been getting a lot more cars per hour and day.”
This increased availability of parking has also made restaurants and businesses more accessible to families and Chapel Hill visitors, as noticed by many Franklin Street regulars.
BSkis Co-owner Gregory Smith has recognized this change during the summer months.
“We have more families that venture to Franklin Street in the summertime when there’s not as many students out,” says Smith. “It really gives us the chance to get the families in here and let them have Franklin Street.”
Smith also says despite the variety of people in Chapel Hill over the summertime, business still shows a slight decrease in the number of customers.
He is not the only one who finds this to be true.
A Bank of America employee has also recognized a decline in business. She recalls recently making a transaction before closing. She found herself laughing because the screen informed her she was transaction number 17 after an entire workday. During the school year, the transaction number is usually around 100.
Others besides business owners and employees have seen differences on Franklin Street. Panhandlers, including 68-year-old Nathaniel Lee, keep an eye on the Franklin Street scene and notice the change.
“There’s a lot more students when schools here; but I seen most people walking up and down the street and a bunch of people sitting on the side of the road … acting crazy, some of them,” says Lee.
A few miles down the road in Carrboro, Looking Glass Café barista Chris Jordan has not observed as much of a difference.
“Generally, when there are students who live in Carrboro, they stay over the summer,” says Jordan. “Maybe their lease doesn’t run out or maybe they work here. They are a part of Carrboro, so it’s hard to tell exactly who’s in school and who isn’t.”
Unlike Jordan, Andrew Paschal, a regular at Looking Glass Café, has seen the change. He prefers the different, yet still thriving atmosphere.
Paschal says summer school makes Carrboro feel more intimate without all the UNC-Chapel Hill students bleeding into the bars or the coffee shops.
“When I go to The Station, it’s a completely different crowd because it’s just the people who are from Carrboro or who live in Carrboro,” adds Paschal. “It’s not the mixed-bag you would get during the school year.”
Open Eye Café Employee Courtney O’Keefe admits that things are quieter, but she feels the essence of the shop stays the same.
“Students graduate and come and go, but the locals and the regulars stay the same and make Open Eye what it is,” says O’Keefe. “We still have live music and people still come in here to hang out and talk. We just see less students doing work.”
Chapel Hill Transit, covering both Carrboro and Chapel Hill, adjusts routes and schedules during the summer months because of this overall change.
Brian Litchfield, assistant director of Chapel Hill Transit, says CHT averages around 30,000 rides a day during the school year compared to 24,000 or 25,000 during the summer. However, Litchfield says the decrease in the number of riders during the summer is much less than previous years.
“Every year we hear more and more demands to have later running buses because more students are staying in the summer, and the general public are requesting later pickup and drop-off times as well,” says Litchfield.
Both Chapel Hill and Carrboro have various perspectives on the lack of students in the summer. Though UNC-Chapel Hill Summer School Dean Jan Yopp describes the campus as being quieter and more peaceful, both the town of Chapel Hill and the town of Carrboro still provide evidence of a thriving atmosphere.
“Summer in Chapel Hill offers students a different perspective of the campus. It’s something every student should do before they graduate,” Yopp said.
There have only been two reported noise complaints to the Chapel Hill Police Department since classes ended on May 5.
Sgt. Josh Mecimore of the Chapel Hill Police Department said there have been some observed trends in the volume of noise-complaint calls received during the school year compared to the summer.
Reports stated the police department responded to 153 noise-complaint calls in the community during the 2011-2012 school year. This number excludes the calls made during UNC’s Christmas and spring break dates when a majority of students were not in town.
Students’ celebrations at the end of spring semester and before Christmas Break often cause disturbances in the Chapel Hill community.
“Typically we get more noise complaints at the beginning and end of each semester, right before students let out for spring break and on the Fourth of July. The last week of classes is usually when students are celebrating being done with their semester and so we’ll get some calls then,” says Mecimore.
According to the United States Census Bureau, Chapel Hill has a population of 57,233 and Carrboro 19,582. The university’s enrollment for the 2011-2012 school year was 28,000 and 7,400 are currently in summer school, according to university records.
This article was written for the JOMC 253 Reporting class at UNC’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication.