Interim County Manager Recommends Downtown Carrboro Location for Southern Orange County Library Site to Move Forward
For anyone who has been following the discussion of where the Southern Orange County Library will be located, the County Commissioners will pick up the discussion thread again on Tuesday evening, November 5th. The library discussion is Item 7 in the 468-page PDF (55 MB!) agenda, and begins on page 369. The meeting will be held at 7:00 p.m. at the Central Orange Senior Center, located at 103 Meadowland Drive in Hillsborough.
At this point in the process, there are three sites under discussion, all located in Carrboro:
- 1128 Hillsborough Rd
- 401 Fidelity St
- 120 Brewer Ln
A quick perusal of the item shows that Carrboro Town Manager David Andrews sent a letter to Interim County Manager Michael Talbert on October 23 that states:
In response to your letter from October 1, 2013, and in particular in response to the inquiry on the Town of Carrboro’s interest in ‘swapping’ property located at 1128 Hillsborough Rd (Shetley Property) for the site of MLK, Jr. Park, the Carrboro Board of Aldermen have not taken an official position as to whether they will or will not support such an arrangement. However, initial conversations with members of the Board indicate that there is not currently support for such an action.”
Elsewhere in the document the County report indicates that the County staff believes that some type of a land swap is needed to make the 1128 Hillsborough Rd site feasible for a library location. On page 370, County staff also expresses the following concerns regarding the 401 Fidelity St site:
There is significant exposed weathered rock crowning in the center of the most logical building site for a potential library structure and associated parking, indicating sizable potential subterranean rock formations. County staff requested a legal opinion from Carrboro with regard to associated liabilities involving development adjacent to a cemetery-specifically related to the County’s interest in rock blasting that is probable should this property be chosen for library development. The Town Attorney provided an opinion. (See Attachment E within Attachment 1 -10/23/13 David Andrews letter) There are strong concerns from Orange County staff that probable blasting adjacent to a cemetery exposes the County to significant liabilities that will not only drive up the cost of the project, but may cause concerns with residents and stakeholders in Orange County. County staffs’ experience is that rock blasting and removal adds significant cost to a project ranging from a 5-15% increase of a project’s overall cost. Potential liability costs associated with disturbing existing cemetery burial plots adjacent to the building site through a probable rock blasting process are incalculable.
Given these circumstances, but also undoubtedly influenced by the Twitter-reported enthusiasm among County Commissioners and complete unanimity among the Carrboro Aldermen that the Brewer Lane site is the best, Interim County Manager is recommending:
1) Receive and discuss the letters from the Town of Carrboro;
2) Eliminate 1128 Hillsborough Road and 401 Fidelity Street from further consideration for a Southern Branch Library; and
3) Direct staff to conduct further Phase 1 Site Criteria Analysis for 120 Brewer Lane and provide follow-up information to the Board.
For many of the reasons enunciated in my March 2013 post on this issue, this is absolutely terrific news. It is also exciting to see from the October 21 Chapel Hill News article that Library Director Lucinda Munger is already considering how to tailor potential programming for a library at 120 Brewer Ln to serve nearby children and families, as well as close-by community resources such as the Skills Development Center and The ArtsCenter. This is inspired thinking and I look forward to hearing where her efforts lead.
I hope the County Commissioners will take Interim Manager Talbert’s recommendation, and follow a path that a lot of citizens want to take, not to mention saving the county $20,000 to $30,000 in the process by not studying two sites with clear shortcomings.