CARRBORO — The Carrboro aldermen told the Orange County commissioners Thursday that they really, really like the idea of siting the Southern Branch on Brewer Lane.
Brewer Lane runs into Carrboro at the end of West Franklin Street, and the site will be next to a new parking deck at the 300 East Main Street development, where the new Hampton Inn is located. It’s in the downtown area, so it’s walkable, on the bus line, and it would front the Libba Cotton Bikeway.
Orange County has narrowed the list of possible sites for the Southern Branch to three places: 1128 Hillsborough Road, 401 Fidelity St. in a corner of the cemetery property, and 120 Brewer Lane.
The aldermen held a joint meeting with the commissioners Thursday night and discussed the sites, but the aldermen made it clear they weren’t so interested in the Hillsborough Road and Fidelity Street sites.
Alderwoman Jacquie Gist said she supports the Brewer Lane. It is near low-income neighborhoods, and children from those neighborhoods could walk to the library, plus it would be convenient for UNC students interested in working with those children, she said.
It would also be good for downtown economic development.
“People come downtown to go the library, so why not go buy $500 worth of gifts at the gift shop down the street?” Gist said.
Alderwoman Randee Haven-O’Donnell pointed out it is also close to Northside Elementary School, and the parking deck would provide plenty of parking.
“In our estimation, Brewer Lane is clearly the site that meets more needs for more people,” she said.
Some of the officials suggested the county should just eliminate the other two sites from consideration and focus all its efforts on the Brewer Lane site. That could save $10,000 to $15,000, the cost of evaluating the other sites.
Commissioner Barry Jacobs, however, reminded everyone that when the county tried to site a library near Carrboro Elementary School, some Carrboro residents, especially those living in that neighborhood, became angry because the county tried to move too quickly and didn’t hold a public hearing to find out how residents felt about the site.
It would be breaking a pledge with the public to move forward on the Brewer Lane site without holding a public hearing, Jacobs said.
If the Brewer Lane site is selected as the site, Orange County Library Director Lucinda Munger said the library will be designed to serve those who live in the area around it, and programs would be developed to serve children and families who live in the area.
She suggested the library could partner with The ArtsCenter and the Skill Development Center. Space and programs could also be designed for incubator space for local entrepreneurs, she said.
“It can be a very exciting opportunity to do something unique in Orange County that will stand out and be a credit to the county,” she said.