The Board of Aldermen heard a progress report Tuesday on Carrboro’s long-awaited southern branch of the Orange County library.
The county has begun reviewing the suitability of its chosen site at 203 S. Greensboro St. Orange County Manager Bonnie Hammersley has been talking with Carrboro Town Manager David Andrews about the details of building a library at 203 S. Greensboro St. since late last year.
Carrboro would continue to own the land, under the current plan, and the county would build and run the 15,000-square-foot branch library.
The town is undertaking municipal space needs and parking studies now that could identify where public parking would be available during and after construction, and also what town services could be co-located with the library.
Hammersley and Andrews are expected to present a draft development agreement to their respective governments later this year.
Carrboro has been promised a southern branch of the Orange County library for more than 20 years, a fact that was mentioned several times Tuesday.
A memo from Hammersley confirmed that county staff also are continuing to evaluate options for a proposed Arts and Innovation Center that could house the ArtsCenter and Kidzu children’s museum.
The group is awaiting a study from the UNC School of Government’s Development Finance Initiative.
Alderwoman Jacquie Gist took a moment in Tuesday’s meeting to restate the need to keep the two projects separate from each other.
“The people who put us here, who vote for us and pay taxes, don’t want public money spent on the ArtsCenter and Kidzu,” she said. “Their message could not have been clearer. It would drive up their taxes and drive out the middle class. There would be a huge stink.”
Some of the aldermen were more open to the possibility of the town’s investing in a public-private partnership in funding such a center, but Gist cited the lack of support from the general public.
“The only people we heard from in favor of this were people from the ArtsCenter and Kidzu,” she said. “Go back and look at the tapes.”
Work continues in preparation for the development of Martin Luther King, Jr. Park to be located on Hillsborough Road in Carrboro. Although there was once an ambitious plan for bicycle “pump track,” the adopted design is simpler, more suitable for a small neighborhood park.
The current design contains space for a 15,000 square foot garden, a smaller cycling area for children ages 6-16, playgrounds for kids and seniors and large open green space with a wetland area.
Area schoolchildren were surveyed for ideas on how to pay tribute to Martin Luther King. Jr. throughout the park. They suggested planting trees, posting plaques with quotes from King, and installing benches to use for reflection.
Design revisions will continue, and the recreation and parks department will conduct environmental assessments about properly managing the wetland area.
Town attorney retires
Mayor Lydia Lavelle read into the record a resolution recognizing the long service of retiring town attorney Mike Brough. Serving the board since 1976, Brough was praised for his achievement and singled out by long-serving Alderwoman Jacquie Gist for sometimes “reining in” the board when necessary.
“He has used great parenting skills in guiding us,” she said, describing his demeanor as always respectful, often humorous and with the public interest front and center at all times. With his typical low-profile manner, Brough said thank you, gave no speeches and went on his way, reclaiming his Tuesday evenings.