Durham City Council voted 6-0 Tuesday to cede control of two local streets to Duke.
University officials and county planners presented city officials with plans for the renovation of Smith Warehouse, which include improvements to Sumter Street and Maxwell Avenue—unpaved roads that connect Campus Drive and Buchanan Boulevard.
Originally, residents of the area surrounding the warehouse opposed the measure for fear that the University’s takeover will prohibit public use of the thorough-fares, The Chronicle reported in April.
In exchange for control over the roads, Duke officials pledged to allow public access 24 hours a day. Although the commitment on the University’s part was essential to the passage of the resolution, it is non-binding and the city has no means to enforce it.
John Schelp, president of the Old West Durham Neighborhood Association, told the council at Tuesday’s meeting to keep an eye on the University, accusing Executive Vice President Tallman Trask of “deliberately undermining genuine efforts by the university to improve town-gown relations,” The (Durham) Herald-Sun reported Tuesday night.
City Council member Diane Catotti declined to take part in the debate, citing a conflict of interest. Her husband, Chuck Catotti, is the director of event management at Duke.