Published: Nov 22, 2012 12:00 AM
Modified: Nov 27, 2012 05:29 PM
CARRBORO - Three sites have made the list for the new southwest branch library, but the town will still consider properties the community suggests.
The Board of Aldermen recommended all three sites – 1128 Hillsborough Road, 401 Fidelity St. and 301 W. Main St.– to the Orange County Board of Commissioners last week.
The Fidelity Street and Main Street locations are both town property and within downtown Carrboro. The Main Street property totals 3.96 acres and is the location of Carrboro Town Hall.
The 3.34 acre Hillsborough Street location, or Francis Shetley property, is over a mile walk to downtown and is estimated to cost about $200,000.
In the search for potential library sites, the board previously considered 210 Hillsborough Road, and approved the rezoning of the property in April 2011. But the commissioners didn’t purchase the site as the library location, partly because it was within a residential neighborhood.
Earlier this year, the board formed a Library Subcommittee made of Alderman Dan Coleman, Alderwoman Jacquie Gist and Alderwoman Randee Haven-O’Donnell.
The town and county began drafting criteria for a site last year and considered street visibility, site capacity, and pedestrian and vehicle accessibility important factors.
Mayor Mark Chilton said he had reservations about choosing the Town Hall site because the space needs renovations, such as the installation of a sprinkler system in case of fire.
“While there are many great aspects to the Town Hall proposal, the county would expect us to pay for many of the improvements and we don’t have the money,” he said, adding that the site should still be considered.
The Fidelity Street location is next to the Carrboro Lions Club service organization. Chilton said there could be benefits to choosing the property on Fidelity Street if the new library could collaborate with the club.
Coleman said the walkability and bike-ability of the downtown locations is compelling.
“People driving in to the [Carrboro] farmers market can walk to the library or vice versa,” he said. “It’s really valuable for eliminating trips for people.”
Gordon Mitchell, representative for Francis Shetley, said 1128 Hillsborough St. is almost identical to the geographical center of the town. He emphasized the site’s accessibility to members outside the Carrboro community.
“Some of your data on walking and biking could be somewhat skewed because it includes the UNC-Chapel Hill student population, who won’t be using [the library],” Mitchell said.
While the board members seemed to prefer the downtown locations, Haven-O’Donnell said they needed to include the Hillsborough site in the board’s recommendations to the county.
“We want to show [the county commissioners] we recognize the potential of something that is not immediately downtown.”