CHAPEL HILL- As Orange County officials continue the search for a site to build the southwest branch of the Orange County library, commissioners say they want to explore the possibility of putting the library in a yet-to-be-built mixed-use development at 120 Brewer Lane in Carrboro.
Board Chair Barry Jacobs said the collaboration could have economic advantages for the town and county.
“If we bring people to Brewer Lane, it will enhance the economic development in downtown Carrboro, which benefits Orange County,” said Jacobs. “It’s a destination site. They will go there, park their car or get off the bus, and they will walk around.”
County staffers said the Brewer Lane site was preferable to other downtown Carrboro locations suggested by the Board of Aldermen, because a town-owned parking lot at 203 South Greensboro would likely pose access and parking challenges, while space in the 300 East Main development would be too expensive.
A suggestion from the aldermen that the county look into buying the property at 201 North Greensboro currently owned by CVS was quickly shot down.
“The main issue here for us is, number one, the property is not for sale, and number two, we believe the cost to procure the property will be extreme,” Planner Michael Harvey told the board. “Quite honestly we believe the money could be better spent in other forms and fashions.”
In addition to the Brewer Lane location, the board also expressed interest in a site on Hillsborough Road adjacent to the Martin Luther King Jr Park, and a site on Fidelity Street next to the Westwood Cemetery.
All three locations would need to be vetted by planners, engineers and technical consultants. The in-depth analysis could cost as much as $15,000 per site.
The board agreed that if technical analysis ruled out one of the three, county staffers should reconsider the parking lot at 203 South Greensboro as an alternate site.
No matter where the branch ends up, commissioners say they want to be clear that it won’t be a duplicate of the Chapel Hill Public Library or the Main Library in Hillsborough.
“Because the Chapel Hill library already exists so close, we want to be clear we’re not going to duplicate services,” said Jacobs. “We’re not doing a 20,000 square foot library. We’re doing a library that serves the southwestern part of the county.”
Officials say the public will have a chance to weigh in after the analysis of each site has been completed.