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Bang the Drum Softly

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L

ast week, we ran a feature on Batalá Durham, which, after a series of complaints from a resident of Liberty Warehouse and three visits from the cops, may have to quit practicing at Durham Central Park. Writer Katie Jane Fernelius said this is "a case of rubber meeting the road with Durham gentrification."

Dane Miller says the story was "overblown." "A single noise complainer does not a front-page 'gentrification' article make," he writes. "You could just have easily written the exact opposite piece, celebrating the harmony of the new development and local artists—especially since multiple people have shown up to support Batalá and, again, only one person complained. INDY Week is a great community resource, but when you go fishing for a flimsy story to justify a clickbait headline you undermine the rest of your publication's solid local journalism."

Scott Harmon offers a similar critique: "This is not gentrification in motion. This is damaging sensational press in motion. There's one guy who complained, and the remaining residents at Liberty Warehouse shut him down hard. Residents and businesses and cultural events have been figuring out how to live in a vibrant urban environment for a long time, and sometimes there are conflicts. When downtown first started thriving, all of the existing residents (who were here before the restaurants and bars) complained. Was that gentrification, when the people who had been here for years felt like the new businesses moving in were changing their way of life?

"The community told those people the same thing. Downtown is going to be a vibrant, mixed-use environment, not a quiet, bucolic suburban enclave. And that's what the residents and management of Liberty Warehouse told the one guy who complained. If you want to be a responsible member of the community and the press, you should do your homework and not write incendiary stories that make it harder for the community to work together."

"I live at Liberty Warehouse, and I just want to say that all this hubbub has been generated by one resident," adds Kirk Royal. "Yes, I said one. And the rest of us have made it clear on our community message board that we think this resident is being unreasonable. The reason 99 percent of us moved into this building was to be in the thick of all these wonderful reminders (and the sounds that come with them) of the culturally and socially vibrant city we live in. To the one resident who moved here expecting a bland suburban lifestyle: you've gotta be kidding me! Clearly this person isn't terribly gifted at making wise life decisions. I, for one, am going to be royally pissed if this one person's quixotic pursuit of bland, white-bread suburban 'bliss' in the middle of downtown Durham gets Batalá Durham (or anyone else, for that matter) banned from using the park. Batalá was here first. We moved onto their turf, not the other way around. This neighborhood—and all of Durham—has a rich history. Moving into a new building doesn't mean any of us get to ignore, erase, or otherwise disrespect it."

Chris Allen calls for fairness: "I'd think Durham has a noise ordinance for a reason, so police can respond fairly to a standard and not at the whims of one person's complaint. If it's before eleven p.m., the drums should be fine. On the other side of the coin, somehow Surf Club can have an outdoor d.j. party until two a.m. without any enforcement from the noise ordinance. The area is becoming more mixed commercial and residential (as it should), people on all sides need to be reasonable and accommodating, and the law needs to be consistent."

Commenter marcushe says this is all the city's fault: "Unfortunately, the Batalá group will have to respect the noise complaints and find a new venue. It's the city of Durham's fault for zoning residences so close to Central Park."

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