Published: Sep 29, 2012 07:00 PM
Modified: Sep 29, 2012 05:44 PM
CHAPEL HILL - The Town Council is committed to a new community center and sewer lines in the Rogers Road neighborhood, but how much will the town pay?
Town Council members did not answer that question last week, although some did wonder if those projects will make up for 40 years of smells, noise and other nuisances associated with the Orange County Landfill.
Council member Jim Ward, who serves with council member Penny Rich on the Historic Rogers Road Task Force, said the council still has a lot of questions.
The center should be the first priority, because it will have “more impact on kids and is the easier problem to solve,” he said.
“The community center represents something that is lost right now, which is unfortunate, and I look forward to getting that facility back up as soon as possible,” Ward said.
Council members also want to ensure Rogers-Eubanks Neighborhood Association leaders have a plan for who will run the center and its programs long after they are gone.
The Rev. Robert Campbell said the center has operated on its own for three years and with community groups, including Campus Y, a local teacher and the Engineers Without Borders and Technicians Without Borders.
“We have the capacity to operate the community center,” Campbell said. “What we have in our community is a jewel that will also substantiate your support ... we have been doing this under the scope, and a lot of people did not realize the participants and people that we were serving.”
The center was forced to close in August because of fire and building code issues. Its programs also have been suspended, including afterschool tutoring, adult education and a food pantry.
The county commissioners have pledged $500,000 for a new community center. That’s roughly the cost that Assistant County Manager Michael Talbert quoted for a 3,000-square-foot facility.
The commissioners also suggested that Chapel Hill and Carrboro pay to equip the center, its first year of utilities, and permitting and connection costs.
They postponed discussing the roughly $6 million sewer project until Chapel Hill and Carrboro could talk about the draft report.
The county already has grant funding for some homeowners to hook up to existing sewer lines, but no one has taken advantage of the money, Talbert said. Homeowners would have to pay to run the line from the street to their house and, in some cases, upgrade their plumbing system.
Carrboro recently committed $900,000 toward the sewer project, representing a 14 percent contribution based on its share of municipal waste and its sales tax distribution, council member Lee Storrow said.
If Chapel Hill follows suit, the town’s contribution would be roughly 33.5 percent, or about $2 million, Storrow said.
Some council members said they want to make sure first that the community wants both projects and the work will begin to repair the damage done.
“What we’re trying to figure out is what remediation will come close to saying I’m sorry, because there’s no way to pay for it,” Council member Donna Bell said. “It has happened, and we will try our best as a community not to let these things happen again, but there is no amount of money on the face of the earth that I know of that is going to wipe away what happened in 1972.”
Habitat for Humanity has offered two lots in its Phoenix Place subdivision for a new community center. The town’s planning department has said there won’t be a problem amending Habitat’s special-use permit.