“Everything I hear from the [Orange County] County Commissioners is they are not so much looking for more options, says Carrboro Mayor Mark Chilton,” they are looking for some clear direction for what works for the town. That doesn’t mean they’re going to do whatever we say, but they want to know clearly what works best for Carrboro town government.”
At a meeting last month, the County Commissioners preferred two sites recommended to them by the Board—1128 Hillsborough Street and 401 Fidelity Street, but also instructed Town Staff to evaluate four additional locations—120 Brewer Lane, 203 S Greensboro St., 201 N Greensboro St. and 300 E Main St.
Assistant to the Town Manager Matt Efird says these four locations differ from others the County Commissioners and the Board have already evaluated.
“These sites are different,” says Efird. “Before, we were evaluating blank spaces on which to create a library. Two of them have currently permitted projects, so these are all opportunities to integrate the library within permitted development.”
He adds that all have current development proposals with varying probabilities of completion. Currently, there is an active permit for the town-owned parking lot at 203 S Greensboro and the Butler Property at 120 Brewer Lane. The 300 E Main Street development is currently under construction and 201 N Greensboro St is where CVS has proposed their development.
While Carrboro Mayor Mark Chilton approved of all four locations, he says one of the sites is clearly better than the others.
“The Butler property really stands out as being the most outstanding opportunity out of these,” says Chilton. “The parking is going to be outstanding, for all of these the bus access is excellent, but the bike and pedestrian access is particularly excellent.”
The Town recently purchased the 203 S Greensboro lot to maintain the downtown’s parking allotment. Aldermen Jacquelyn Gist says she’s hesitant to build a library at that location because losing the parking lot could negatively impact downtown businesses.
“As new businesses and new buildings come in,” says Gist, “we might very quickly change the flavor of downtown Carrboro from our older businesses mixing in with new businesses to running our old businesses out because of lack of parking.”
Regardless of which site the town and Board eventually select, Chilton says both are acutely aware that the County library in Carrboro and the Town of Chapel Hill Library will be in close proximity to each other.
“One of the implications behind the name change was the sense that at least some on the County Commission feel that there should be some differentiation in the kind of services that are provided at the Chapel Hill library versus the kinds of services that are provided at the Southern Branch Library,” says Chilton.
The Aldermen formally submitted all four sites to the Board of County Commissioners, with 120 Brewer Lane as their primary preference.