Construction Begins On Google Fiber ‘Hut’ in Carrboro

Construction began recently on the Google Hut in Carrboro, which will house servers and other technology necessary for Google Fiber’s new high speed internet service. The approximately 400 square foot building is being constructed next to Westwood Cemetery.

Chapel Hill and Carrboro are one of the few municipalities across the country where Google Fiber is being installed. Google Fiber can provide internet speeds up to 1 gigabit per second, about 100 times faster than standard broadband.

Carrboro residents, who live near the site, spoke out at last Tuesday’s Board of Aldermen meeting. There was concern they weren’t made aware of the project or when the construction would begin.

Some residents proposed the OWASA campus as a better location.

Lisa Bennett was concerned that the construction could take up valuable green space in Carrboro.

“If Google takes over the site next to the cemetery that locks up one of the last open spaces in Carrboro. It put noisy machines next to the meadow adjoining the cemetery,” said Bennett. “We think that would be a prime spot for a municipal park and would hate to see that potential lost.”

Speaking with WCHL’s Aaron Keck, Carrboro Mayor Lydia Lavelle said that any change in location would be up to Google.

The town of Carrboro gave Google several options of publicly owned lots on where to construct the hut.

“The one [location] we ultimately ended up selecting for lots of criteria, not just our criteria but I believe Google’s criteria of figuring out where it would be most accessible and best,” said Lavelle.

Another concern, of residents and the town, is how much noise the facility will make. The Google Hut will have a heating and cooling system, running 24/7 in order to maintain the servers’ temperature.

Mayor Lavelle said they brought this concern along with many others to Google’s attention.

“The requirements that we asked of [Google] in terms of buffering it and screening it, where kind of above and beyond their usual kind of contract when they do these Google huts,” said Lavelle.

The sound is expected to be as loud as two small home AC systems, according to Carrboro planning manager Trish McGuire.

There have also been other issues with Google Fiber installation, including water main and power outages.

AT&T is also installing high speed fiber optic cable in our area.

Carrboro Kicks Off Local Government Meetings

The Carrboro Board of Aldermen officially kicks off the local government meetings again with a Tuesday night meeting at Carrboro Town Hall.

Aldermen will discuss an amendment to the Town’s budget moving $20,000 from the Carrboro Tourism Development Authority (CTDA) to the Recreation and Parks department for community events. The Board will also discuss the purchase of a hybrid solid waste truck, modifying the current Clean Fuel Advanced Technology Grant Project Ordinance. And, Carrboro’s history may soon be gathered by one volunteer. The BoA will hear a resolution to appoint a Town Historian.

To see the complete agenda for Tuesday’s Board of Aldermen meeting, click here. The meeting begins at 7:30 p.m. at Carrboro Town Hall.

Lavelle Talks Local Advocacy (And The Fourth Of July)

With the NC General Assembly in session and Independence Day around the corner, Carrboro mayor Lydia Lavelle joined WCHL’s Aaron Keck on the air Wednesday to talk about advocacy efforts and event planning.

Town clerk Cathy Wilson was in Raleigh Wednesday, meeting with elected officials on state-level issues with local effects in Carrboro – and Tuesday was “Equality Lobby Day” at the NCGA, as representatives from Equality NC met with elected representatives to promote LGBT issues at the state level. Lavelle met with those advocates later in the day, she says, to discuss how to promote those same issues in individual municipalities.

On an unrelated (or perhaps semi-related) note, Lavelle also mentioned Wednesday that plans were in the works for a Fourth of July event at Carrboro’s Town Hall – featuring a public reading of Frederick Douglass’s famous 1852 Independence Day oration, “The Meaning of July Fourth to the Negro” (also known as “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?”).

Listen to Lavelle’s conversation with Aaron Keck below.

Alderman Hopefuls Meet In WCHL Candidates Forum: AUDIO

With early voting currently underway for the May 6 primary, WCHL hosted a forum Monday featuring the three candidates for the open seat on the Carrboro Board of Aldermen.

The three candidates are Talal Asad, Bethany Chaney, and Theresa Watson. They’re running in a special election to finish the term of Lydia Lavelle, who left her seat on the Board when she became mayor in December.

Aaron Keck hosted the informal forum during Monday’s afternoon newscast. During the hour, the candidates talked about topics ranging from building heights to affordability to parking and bike safety.

Listen to Part 1 of the forum, in which the candidates talk economic development, budget and tax issues, and how to retain existing businesses while attracting new ones.

Listen to Part 2 of the forum, in which the candidates discuss how to make Carrboro a more affordable community, how to manage transportation, how to promote environmental sustainability, and (to borrow a slogan from Austin) how to “keep Carrboro weird.”

The forum will re-air on WCHL on Tuesday evening at 6:00 p.m. Early voting is underway through Saturday at five locations across Orange County; primary election day is next Tuesday, May 6.

Planning Board Chair To Seek Carrboro BoA Seat

CARRBORO –  A member of Carrboro’s planning board is the first to throw her name into the hat for the special election to fill Mayor Lydia Lavelle’s former seat on the Board of Aldermen.

Planning Board Chair, Bethany Chaney says she wants to focus on the affordability of the town if she’s elected.

“If we can’t attract and retain people that can live here, can also afford to buy the products and services that we offer here in Carrboro, and that can work here, too, we lose out,” Chaney says.

Chaney grew up in Chapel Hill and has lived in Carrboro since 2004. She graduated from Chapel HillHigh School and got her BA in interdisciplinary studies from UNC. She later went to Northeastern University where she received a general studies MBA.

Chaney was elected to the planning board in 2011. She’s in the final year of her first term and has served one and half one-year terms as chair. She says here time served has familiarized her with the procedures of advisory boards and local government.

“We don’t want to micromanage at the board level,” Chaney says. “But, we also want to help facilitate people doing their jobs well, doing it in the spirit of our vision, and to the letter of our ordinance.”

She says she’s noticed how important community involvement is when decisions are made.

Chaney also has nearly 20 years experience in the non-profit sector where she says she can bring knowledge of where there are underutilized areas into which the town can tap.

“For example, there are economic development and community development or affordable housing resources out there that are really better utilized for and targeted towards nonprofits or to private developers to use,” Chaney says. “If we have a better sense of where those resources are and the timing of those resources, we can plan in advance to encourage nonprofits and for-profit developers to go after those resources and put them to use here in town.”

The special election for the vacant seat on the Carrboro Board of Aldermen will be held May 6 during the North Carolina Primary. The filing period is February 10-28.

Aldermen To Create Downtown Parking Plan

CARRBORO – Carrboro Aldermen will consider creating a downtown parking plan when the board meets Tuesday.

Town staffers say it could cost approximately $100,000 to hire a consultant to help draft the plan, which would examine the availability of residential and business parking around the downtown area and outline ways to manage the town’s supply of parking.

The board will also consider whether or not to continue to partner with Orange County to provide residential recycling pick-up once funding runs out for the current curbside service in June of 2014.

In addition, the aldermen may take a stance on a plan put forward by the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools board to move Spanish dual language students out of Carrboro Elementary. The plan drew fire from parents at last week’s school board meeting. Two of the seven aldermen spoke publicly against it and pledged to bring the issue before the board for a vote.

The board meets at 7:30 p.m. in Carrboro Town Hall.


BoA To Consider Cultural Arts And Entertainment District

CARRBORO – The Board of Aldermen will consider spending $40,000 to create a Cultural Arts and Entertainment District in Carrboro.

The town is partnering with the ArtsCenter on the project and the Strowd Roses Foundation will also commit about $10,000 in funding.

In addition, the aldermen will meet with the ArtsCenter’s board of directors to discuss plans for developing a new facility.

The board meets Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. in Carrboro Town Hall.


How Does Construction Impact Your Driving And Walking In Carrboro?

CARRBORO – Carrboro Aldermen meet Tuesday to continue a discussion on how to regulate construction that impacts public streets and sidewalks.

The board is considering a requirement that some projects have a construction management plan endorsed by the town before development gets underway.

The plan would detail acceptable noise levels and hours of operation, as well as what streets construction vehicles should use and where equipment should be stored.

The board will also designate October as “Carrboro Walk and Bike to School Month.” The meeting starts at 7:30 p.m. in Carrboro Town Hall.


Aldermen To Approve Budget, Review Transit Tax Plan

CARRBORO – The Board of Aldermen will approve their budget Tuesday, and they’ll take a look at how transit tax money might be put to use in Carrboro.

Under next year’s budget the municipal tax rate will stay the same for the fifth year in a row, and town employees will receive a 1.9 percent cost-of-living pay raise.

Aldermen will also consider transit system improvement projects to submit to Triangle Transit for possible funding from the ½ cent sales tax that went into effect earlier this year. Improvements could range from bus shelter construction to sidewalk expansion along major roads.

The board meets at 7:30 Tuesday in Carrboro Town Hall.


Carrboro Aldermen Hear Budget Concerns Tuesday

CARRBORO – Carrboro aldermen want to hear your opinions on the 2013-2014 budget plan at Tuesday’s public hearing.

The town faces increased costs to haul trash to Durham once the county landfill closes, as well as rising employee health care costs, but Town Manager David Andrews says revenue projections are slightly up, suggesting the economic recovery may be taking hold in Carrboro.

After the public hearing, the board will weigh the pros and cons of installing an ATM in the Town Commons and consider putting up temporary traffic calming devices on Oak Drive.

Aldermen will also offer comments on the draft Orange County Library strategic plan released last week, and review the progress of the Rogers Road task force.

The board meets Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. in Carrboro Town Hall.