Cary News

Cary Town Council debates parking options for new library

Cary is considering putting a parking deck near the proposed Wake County regional library at the corner of Walnut Street and Kildaire Farm Road in the coming years but council members are divided about when it should be built.

The town and the county have a joint plan to replace the 11,000-square-foot library on South Academy Street with a larger one on 3 acres at the corner of Walnut and Kildaire Farm. Additional parking will come with the new building.

After other sites for the library were suggested earlier this year, including areas along Chatham Street, the council decided to move forward with the Walnut Street site, which could accommodate the necessary parking.

Town and county staff presented several layout options for the library and additional development opportunities to the council at a work session Tuesday, Aug. 25. The county is providing most of the $7 million for the library while Cary is providing the land.

The library will be 22,000 to 25,000 square feet and would likely be two floors. As a regional library, it would offer additional programming, a large multipurpose room and increased volume in books.

Parking options include surface parking, a parking deck or a phased approach where short-term surface parking is used until a parking deck can be constructed in the future

Councilman Don Frantz said he supports constructing the parking deck in conjunction with the library to avoid disrupting library operations with future construction.

“It’s like you just got done building a nice new library and parking lot, and guess what? Next year, we’re going to rip it out and do construction all over again,” he said.

If a parking deck is constructed, the town would need to pay for $7 to $9 million from the town’s reserves.

But Town Manager Ben Shivar reminded the council that there are other potential downtown activities being discussed that could require town investments.

“I think you can do that, but I think you might be stretched for other opportunities downtown,” he said.

There may also be downtown opportunities for other parking decks in conjunction with private development.

Funding options

Some council members, including Frantz and Jennifer Robinson, listed ways the parking deck could be funded, including financing, private partners or leasing spaces after it is built.

Cary Mayor Harold Weinbrecht said he wants to learn more about the different parking options, particularly the parking deck versus the phased approach, and their financial impact to the town. He said he wants to be sure that the cost of the parking deck would not keep the town from participating in other downtown investment opportunities.

“I don’t want to handcuff us,” he said.

But council members agreed that if a parking deck is built, it needs to be shielded from the road by surrounding buildings.

“Ideally, I want to see as little of the parking deck from the street and surrounding community as possible,” Frantz said.

Position of the library

Council members also debated whether to place the library closer to the future downtown park to the north or along Walnut Street to the south.

“I have always envisioned the library overlooking the park and being able to take advantage of these beautiful views,” Robinson said. “It seems a shame to put the library up near the road and see passing cars when people just really want a peaceful environment if they’re studying or reading.”

“I would love it to have an outdoor plaza area, picnic tables, places for people to sit and read,” Frantz added.

But Downtown Development Manager Ted Boyd said potential office space or multifamily housing developers already have shown interest in being able to overlook the park.

Frantz responded, “I’m not necessarily looking at this to entice a couple of nice projects as much as I am in putting something valuable and a destination for the entire community.”

County and town staff will return before the council in the coming weeks with additional layout options. The county plans to open the library during the summer of 2018. Cary’s town council must make a decision on the layout by October to avoid delaying the project.

Kathryn Trogdon: 919-460-2608; @KTrogdon