Published: Sep 08, 2012 03:50 PM
Modified: Sep 08, 2012 03:46 PM
HILLSBOROUGH - The Orange County Commissioners are willing to go it alone, if necessary, to build a new community center for the Rogers Road neighborhood.
The commissioners said Thursday they intend to move forward quickly on a new center for the neighborhood, with or without help from Chapel Hill and Carrboro although they hope the towns will pitch in too.
The board will consider its next move in October. The commissioners also agreed to postpone further discussion of a $5.8 million sewer service plan until Chapel Hill and Carrboro leaders can consider a task forces draft report.
In the meantime, the county will look for additional money to build the community center. The commissioners said Chapel Hill and Carrboro should consider at least footing the bill for supplies, first-year utilities, and permitting and connection costs.
They also plan to ask Chapel Hill to expedite the centers permitting process.
The existing Rogers-Eubanks Neighborhood Association Community Center closed in August because of permit and building code issues. The center had served a major role in the community, providing tutoring, summer camps, adult learning and a food pantry, officials said.
Assistant County Manager Michael Talbert said a new, 3,000-square-foot center could cost roughly $500,000 to build.
Another option is paying $740,500 to move and renovate the historic Hogan-Rogers house, which stands on a site set for St. Paul AME Churchs new building. The Preservation Society of Chapel Hill hopes to move the house to a nearby property and perhaps use it to house the new community center.
Commissioner Earl McKee said the house should be left to private preservationists, while the county builds a new center.
If you take an old building and you remodel it, and you expect it to last 50 or 60 years, you have an extremely old building, McKee said. In this case, youre going to have a very old building that is not laid out, in my opinion, to get the best service to the citizens of the community.
The commissioners also discussed letting Habitat for Humanity lead the centers construction. Habitat has offered the center two lots and would not face the same lengthy approval process the county does. Commissioner Pam Hemminger said Habitat officials are willing to coordinate the project but cannot be contractors. They are donating the lots on the condition that the center has a timeline and money available for construction and operations.
County manager Frank Clifton will meet Sept. 28 with town managers David Andrews and Roger Stancil to consider financing options. Carrboro and Chapel Hill will discuss the draft report this month.
The Historic Rogers Road Task Force will meet again Oct. 3.
Task force discussions about the center and sewer lines have bogged down over how to split the cost. Chapel Hill members said the county should pay the towns share out of taxes paid to the county. The county, in return, suggested taking another look at how sales tax revenues are distributed.
Commissioner Valerie Foushee and Hemminger serve on the task force with Chapel Hill Town Council members Jim Ward and Penny Rich, Carrboro Aldermen Michelle Johnson and Sammy Slade, and Rogers Road neighbors.
I really dont want to spend a lot of time any more on that, Foushee said. I see it as a delaying tactic. I think that we have a decision to make as to whether or not we want to benefit a group of citizens who have borne a burden that has allowed so many of us to have a quality of life that they have not enjoyed.
The sewer proposal would serve roughly 86 lots. The county has grant funding for some homeowners to hook up to existing sewer lines, but no one has taken advantage of the money, Talbert said. The homeowners have to pay to run a line to their house and, in some cases, upgrade plumbing.
Commissioner Steve Yuhasz and Mark Dorosin, managing attorney for the UNC Center for Civil Rights, who represents the Rogers Road neighborhood, suggested talking with the Orange Water and Sewer Authority about using different technology than typical gravity-based sewer lines.
Dorosin also recommended the county build a relationship with the community and remain flexible in finding the money.