County will study 3 Carrboro library sites

tgrubb@newsobserver.comSeptember 15, 2013 

  • The Story So Far

    The county budgeted roughly $8 million for land and a long-sought southern branch library. The Orange County Board of Commissioners also has worked with the Carrboro Board of Aldermen to identify where a new library should be built and what services it should provide.

    Several sites have been proposed, and two eliminated: 210 Hillsborough Road and Carrboro Town Hall, 301 W. Main St. Once the top sites are chosen, the public will have an opportunity to weigh in on the final decision.

    Of six sites being discussed, three are potential finalists:

    • 120 Brewer Lane, the Butler condominium project foreclosed on in 2012. East Main Partners bought it for commercial and residential building.

    • 1128 Hillsborough St., county staff suggests switching it for land at northwestern corner of adjacent Martin Luther King Jr. Park. The location is now the Carrboro Community Garden.

    • 401 Fidelity St., adjacent to Westwood Cemetery on town-owned land

    The runners-up are:

    • 201 N. Greensboro St., proposed for a two-story CVS. The site would be expensive and is not for sale.

    • 203 S. Greensboro St., a town-owned parking lot. Four streets surround and limit the site’s potential.

    • 300 East Main, a hotel and retail redevelopment project under construction. It would be expensive.

CHAPEL HILL Three top sites for a southern branch of the county library emerged last week at an Orange County Board of Commissioners work session.

All three sites – 120 Brewer Lane, 1128 Hillsborough Road and 401 Fidelity St. – have pros and cons, staff said. The county will study each one and work with Carrboro to complete zoning, planning and engineering work. Preliminary site studies could cost up to $15,000 each.

Additional sites are being considered, including a town-owned parking lot at 203 S. Greensboro St., the 300 East Main redevelopment project and a proposed CVS site at 201 N. Greensboro St.

The commissioners agreed Brewer Lane has the most potential, because it’s near low- and moderate-income neighborhoods, bus access and a 500-space parking deck and also has room to grow. Commissioners Chairman Barry Jacobs said it also would help the local economy.

“If we bring people to Brewer, then that will enhance the economic development in downtown Carrboro, which benefits Orange County, because it’s a destination site. They will go there, park their car or get off the bus, and they will walk around,” he said.

Commissioners Vice Chairman Earl McKee warned some patrons might have trouble finding the library without adequate signs. The site is behind the ArtsCenter, beside the railroad tracks and also accessible via the Libba Cotten Bikeway.

The 1128 Hillsborough Road site is next to Martin Luther King Jr. Park. Since heavy-duty power lines cross the proposed site, the best location for a library would be the park’s northwest corner, staff said. The park could share restrooms and parking, and a community garden could be built under the power lines, staff said.

The 401 Fidelity St. site, a few blocks behind Carrboro Town Hall, is undeveloped, but the large number of rocks needs testing, staff said.

A branch library doesn’t need to duplicate services or be the size of Chapel Hill’s Public Library or Hillsborough’s main county library, Jacobs said.

Commissioners Bernadette Pelissier and Renee Price asked that residents get more than one choice.

“Present your findings and let the people decide. It’s going to be their library,” Price said.

Grubb: 919-932-8746

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