Published: Jul 24, 2008 07:26 AM
Modified: Jul 24, 2008 07:26 AM
CARRBORO -- Mayor Mark Chilton is trying to enlist the town of Chapel Hill in his fight to reopen a pedestrian path through the Estes Park Apartments from another neighborhood farther east on Estes Drive Extension.
Chilton contacted elected leaders and town staff in both towns and shared some research he had done showing that a new fence at Estes Park has closed off the driveway to the Leo Merritt property, a parcel owned by the Town of Chapel Hill .
The only driveway to the Merritt land extends from the Estes Park parking lot eastward over a set of railroad tracks used to ship coal to UNC's co-generation plant on Cameron Avenue. That driveway is the most convenient place for pedestrians from Village West to cross the tracks on their way to downtown Carrboro.
"The Merritt railroad crossing has been in that location for AT LEAST 70 years," Chilton wrote. "I do not believe that Estes Park Apartments has the legal right to close that connection."
Chilton is most concerned about the pedestrian corridor between Village West and Estes Park. But "The Town of Chapel Hill may have an opinion about whether you are actually lawfully allowed to block their driveway," he wrote in a memo to Shannon Brummett, regional property manager, General Services Corp.
Efforts to reach Brummett Monday were unsuccessful.
Bill Webster, Chapel Hill's assistant parks and recreation director, said the 9-acre parcel was part of more than 20 acres the town purchased from Merritt's estate a couple of years ago.
"We need to do a little bit more research," Webster said. "If we do indeed have legal access, then we've got a problem."
Contact staff writer Jesse James DeConto at 932-8760 or firstname.lastname@example.org