While this blog’s primary focus is Carrboro, I think it is important to stand up and clap for what looks like a good decision in the making a few miles to our east in Cary. Specifically, the town is working cooperatively with Wake County to put the next iteration of their library in their downtown, and multiple town council members seem to understand the benefits of integrating the library with a broader set of community activities.
Councilman Don Frantz suggested that commercial development wrapped around the parking deck could defray the cost of the public facility.
Bingo! This is one of the most important points that downtown library supporters in Carrboro have been trying to make: a standalone library on county-owned land is a public facility that is only operated using public revenues. A library occupying the floor of a mixed-use building with public and private uses will have some private investment to help with its construction and ongoing operations costs and may even help catalyze further development of a downtown project that is close to “ready to go,” but not quite there yet.
One of the refrains that was repeated earlier this spring in the county staff’s deeply flawed arguments for 1128 Hillsborough Rd as a library site was that there would be opportunities to co-locate the library with a park so that children could play there, and lest anyone believe Cary’s inclinations should validate that idea, they describe the park as follows: “Cary leaders are thinking less of a recreational park than a carefully designed common ground filled with ‘hidden treasures’ and framed by what would be the largest buildings in downtown.” I think it’s hard to overstate the differences between the type of park Cary is planning downtown and what MLK park on Hillsborough Rd is intended to be.
The article goes on to note that the library would be located adjacent to a hotel. It’s hard not to notice that the library siting decision is clearly linked to economic development in the minds of the town staff and elected officials, and they see opportunity in placing the library downtown.
Cary gets it. Carrboro gets it. Wake County gets it. Orange County? Stay tuned…