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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Terry Sanford, December 16 and 18, 1986. Interview C-0038. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Explaining Durham's shortcomings

Sanford tries to explain Durham's limited success when compared to other North Carolina cities such as Charlotte and Raleigh. Poor management decisions, an inconsistent approach to development, and anti-growth sentiment have hobbled the city's progress, Sanford believes.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Terry Sanford, December 16 and 18, 1986. Interview C-0038. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

BRENT GLASS:
Do you think Durham is unique in that divisiveness that seems to exist in North Carolina? How knowledgable are you of other cities, and how would you compare getting things done in Durham as compared to other municipalities?
TERRY SANFORD:
Durham has had a very difficult time getting its act together. It's just evident. It's evident that we didn't get downtown shaped up right compared to say Charlotte or Raleigh. We didn't pay enough attention to the benefits that flowed from the Research Triangle Park, and let Raleigh steal most of them, which they were perfectly justified in doing. We ignored industrial development or didn't do a good job. We most likely didn't give the person we hired to lead that enough support. Now that we're giving him more support you can see a better job being done.
BRENT GLASS:
Is this with the Chamber you mean?
TERRY SANFORD:
Well, the Chamber's Industrial Development Department. So, Durham has lagged behind, and maybe now that that's happened that's to our benefit because we don't have to make all the same mistakes that others made. On the other hand, there is still an anti-development sentiment here. I'm totally in favor of proper planning and environmental controls but there's a group of people that transcend that to just being opposed to the moving of any stone or cutting of any tree. Well, we can't live in a wilderness since we don't live in a wilderness. We could if we chose, and individually moved to wildernesses. But if we're going to have a flourishing place that can support its downtown, that can support the arts, that can support the things that improve the quality of life, we've got to have jobs, and especially in this town that could have predicted that textile jobs and tobacco jobs were going to disappear. We were at least ten years slow in being aware of that and attempting to do something about it collectively. So there'll be a lag there but I think we can catch up.
BRENT GLASS:
How do you respond to the articles that you see where people fear the Research Triangle-Durham starting to resemble some of the northeastern metropolitan areas that are choked with traffic and have various—and there are indications, every once in a while you read about them in the paper…
TERRY SANFORD:
Oh yeah, we get choked with traffic. I had three cars ahead of me at the stoplight today. [END OF TAPE 1, SIDE A] [TAPE 1, SIDE B] [START OF TAPE 1, SIDE B]
TERRY SANFORD:
We can escape some of that. Durham can't do it unless it understands that orderly development is the most legitimate purpose of the community, and that communities are developed areas in the country. They're not wild, wilderness areas. So the question is how do you develop them properly. You don't do it in a haphazard way as Durham has been inclined to do. Sometimes they'd make good decisions, sometimes bad decisions—never quite consistent rationale of how Durham ought to develop.