With all members sporting matching T-shirts, the Board of Aldermen gave an official thanks and farewell last week to Jerry Williams, an original organizer of one of the town’s most successful annual events, the Carrboro Music Festival.
Mayor Lydia Lavelle proclaimed Sunday, Sept. 28, to be “Jerry Williams and Janet Place Day” in honor of the couple’s contribution to the festival, noting that this year will be their last in managing the event.
Lavelle said the festival has been described as “the best day of the year in Carrboro” and its thousands of fans of fans would likely agree. Estimates from 2011 had crowds numbering more than 10,000, the mayor said, and it all began with Jerry Williams and a few other volunteers back in 1997.
“My wife and I have already moved to Columbia, South Carolina,” Williams told the board. “It’s a nice place, but it’s no Carrboro,” he said, adding that after his wife retires, they’ll perhaps move back.
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In other action:
• The board approved executing an agreement with Orange County and Chapel Hill to pay its 14 percent share of the $900,000 cost of the OWASA sewer line improvements for the Rogers Road community.
The sewer project is meant to help compensate the neighbors for living beside the now-closed Orange County Landfill for 40 years. The agreement calls for engaging residents in planning “to engage, preserve and organize the history of the Historic Rogers Road Neighborhood.”
This work has already begun, said Hudson Vaughn, deputy director of the Marian Cheek Jackson Center for Saving and Making History. The center was contracted to conduct the community outreach for the project.
• The board created a volunteer Town Historian position, aimed at collecting materials and preserving official records. The position will receive no salary or benefits, but may have related costs covered the by the town as approved by the Manager.
• Terri Buckner presented a slide show illustrating many of the disruptions in sidewalk access around downtown. Describing herself as a “guerilla pedestrian,” Buckner said that where construction work must occasionally reroute auto traffic, the same consideration does not exist for those on foot.
“We’d like to see the same effort for pedestrians as we see for cyclists,” Buckner said. She noted also that snow and ice removal from streets and right-of-ways often results in a pileup that blocks sidewalks. She requested that the town encourage or require residents and business owners to be responsible for clearing the sidewalks in front of their property for the public to have access.
Town Attorney Mike Brough expressed doubt that the town could legally require citizens to clear sidewalks in a right-of-way and paid for by the town, though such requirements are common in northern U.S. cities.
Cambridge, Mass., like Carrboro, prides itself on its walkability. There, the municipal code requires that residents and business owners remove snow from all sidewalks next to their property or business within 12 hours after the snow stops falling during a daytime storm, and before 1p.m. when the snow has fallen during the night.