Cary News

Cary Town Council approves funding for downtown parking deck, public art

The Town of Cary and Wake 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 Street and Kildaire Farm Road. Design and construction of the parking deck will coincide with that of the Wake County regional library.
The Town of Cary and Wake 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 Street and Kildaire Farm Road. Design and construction of the parking deck will coincide with that of the Wake County regional library. ktrogdon@newsobserver.com

A needed downtown parking deck near the corner of Kildaire Farm Road and Walnut Street – which will include public art – is one step closer to being completed by 2018.

The Cary Town Council unanimously approved Wednesday appropriating $9.35 million for the project from the fund balance. The amount includes $8.15 million for the parking deck and $1.2 million for a stormwater system that will serve the entire block, including the future Downtown Park.

The four-level, 350-space parking deck is one of several investments that will transform downtown Cary by the fall of 2018, along with the future Wake County regional library.

But there was some debate on whether public art should be integrated into the parking structure. The council voted 6-1 to appropriate an additional $180,000 to pay an artist and for other fees. Councilwoman Jennifer Robinson was the dissenting vote.

“Sometimes I get nervous with public art,” she said. “It’s a little bit risky. I just want it to be aesthetically pleasing. If it can just be architecturally done nicely, I’ll be happy.”

Other council members, including Lori Bush and Don Frantz, disagreed, saying it would be a missed opportunity next to the Cary Arts Center and Downtown Park not to incorporate integrated art.

“This is going to be in an area that is pretty much going to be considered, whether it’s officially titled or not, our arts district,” Frantz said. “There’s going to be the arts center. There’s going to be tons of art in the park ... Integrated art – tastefully done, not in your face, not shiny metal objects hanging off the building, or some weird stuff that nobody can tell what it is – I think would work very well.”

Robinson said if integrated art is included, the council should be involved early in the process, directing the town’s public art advisory board on their vision.

“We ought to be involved up front and give the guidance to the public art advisory board so they are going in the right direction,” she said.

But others believe the council doesn’t need to be as hands-on.

“I think we’ve got to trust the process a little bit here,” Councilman Jack Smith said. “It’s $180,000. You’re not going to get a blue barber pole. This sends a message that we have a great community with a lot of people that have great feedback on public art.”

Library plans

Design and construction of the parking deck will coincide with that of the Wake County regional library. The county wants to begin construction in the spring of 2017 and open the library during the fall of 2018.

The town and 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. 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 likely will be two floors. As a regional library, it will offer additional programming, a large multipurpose room and increased volume of books.

But the town will be responsible for most of the costs associated with the parking deck. Wake County will contribute $1 million to help pay for parking.

In November, the council approved the layout for the library and parking deck site. The deck will be centrally located next to the Downtown Park with the library to its west and future projects to its south and east.

Mayor Pro Tem Ed Yerha said he has heard some complaints from Cary residents about the parking deck being next to the park and thinks the addition of public art would help.

“If we could spiff that up in some way, that would be appropriate,” he said.

Kathryn Trogdon: 919-460-2608: @KTrogdon

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