Orange County, Chapel Hill and Carrboro officials are moving forward with construction of a sewer line for the Rogers Road community.
After waiting nearly half a century, community members and local officials gathered at the Rogers Eubanks Neighborhood Association Community Center Tuesday for a groundbreaking and celebration.
“For forty years this neighborhood has housed the Orange County landfill. And from the time it was built, promises were made to this community about how long it would last, about what kind of amenities would be provided in exchange for hosting the landfill and about what kind of provisions would be made to accommodate the residents of this community,” chair of the Orange County Commissioners Mark Dorosin said Tuesday evening. “Those promises were shamefully, embarrassingly not kept.”
Dorosin was one of the officials who spoke at the groundbreaking to explain why something as seemingly small as a sewer line is a big deal.
The Orange County landfill previously located in the historically-black community closed in 2013 under pressure from environmental justice advocates.
The plans for bringing in a sewer service have been in the works for more than two years, and funding will be split between the county and the municipalities of Chapel Hill and Carrboro.
Chapel Hill Mayor Pam Hemminger says it’s important to recognize the Rogers Road community for fighting for the future and for what its members believe in – in everything from the new sewer line to the RENA Community Center.
“I have a lot of pride in what we’re able to do when we come together and build this amazing community center, for the whole community, but I’ll be honest with you, especially for the kids. There are a lot of positive things that are going to come out of making sure that we take care of our children.”
Reverend Robert Campbell is the president of the Rogers Eubanks Neighborhood Association. He also spoke at the groundbreaking and says it’s been a long fight, but the end has made it worth it.
“So often we have been asked, ‘Why do you do what you do and you don’t get paid for it?’ I tell them, ‘Look at the outcome. It is greater than the value of the money that you think I should have earned.’”
Hemminger says she looks forward to seeing the changes the sewer line will ignite in the community.
“It’s a long overdue step forward. But it is a step forward in fulfilling our commitment and our responsibilities to this community that has faithfully served the entire community for a very long time.”
Construction on the new line will begin in July, and is expected to take 10 to 12 months to complete.
Photo via Steph Beckett