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.




Aldermen Take Their Turn At Budget Talks Tuesday

CARRBORO – Carrboro Aldermen will hash out the details of next year’s budget when the board meets Tuesday.

Board members will consider a variety of plans that could add or subtract from the bottom line, including a proposal to spend $48,000 on a housing stipend for some low-income town employees.

Other proposals call for expanding the Carrboro Music Festival and Carrboro Film Festival to two-day events, or spending $30,000 to assess the town’s options for recycling and solid waste disposal.

The board will also discuss reducing minimum parking requirements for new developments, or requiring that parking spaces be sold or rented separately. Supporters of “unbundling” say this could lower the cost of housing and encourage more residents to use public transportation.

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



Town And County To Look For Smaller Library Sites Downtown

CHAPEL HILL- Orange County Commissioners weren’t favorably impressed with any of the possible library locations they reviewed Tuesday night, and they say they want to rethink the criteria used to select them.

“It seems to me that we need to think into the future and not build yesterday’s library,” said Commissioner Penny Rich. “That’s why I’m concerned about some of these studies that were done years ago. We know that libraries have changed drastically.”

In December, Carrboro Aldermen put forward three potential sites for the southern branch of the Orange County Public Library: one at Town Hall, one adjacent to the Westwood Cemetery, and one next to a park on Hillsborough Road.

But county staffers rejected the Town Hall location, saying the building is difficult to renovate and the site is already used for many different purposes.

“You have a fire station, you have the government services at Town Hall, also parking and the famer’s market complex,” said Director of Asset Management Services Jeff Thompson. “It would, in fact, be a very complicated development. It would be expensive as well.”

Orange County staff favored the Hillsborough Road site, suggesting the county could collaborate with Carrboro on a land swap that would put the library near the entrance to the Martin Luther King Jr Park.

“There is an enhanced opportunity for synergy between a park and a library facility that includes shared programming, infrastructure and the like,” said Thompson.

But that idea rankled some who say Carrboro doesn’t need to try to duplicate Chapel Hill’s newly expanded library, which is just down the road, also located in a park.

Chair Barry Jacobs urged the board to rethink the design guidelines that call for a 20,000 square foot, free-standing library.

“I do think it is critical to consider the relationship of this library to the Chapel Hill library. If you have an excellent, comprehensive library less than four miles away, we don’t need a 20,000 square foot library in Carrboro,” said Jacobs. “And the more you say that, the more you set up the expectation among people for something I don’t think the county should provide.”

Commissioners and aldermen had previously agreed upon those guidelines, but last night both groups said they would like to broaden the criteria to explore more options.

Carrboro Alderman Randee Haven-O’Donnell told the board that town leaders want to look for new sites, with an eye towards to bringing a smaller library downtown. County commissioners agreed.

“Well, since we have been asked by the Board of Aldermen to consider other sites, I think we need to tell them we are quite willing to wait and see what other possibilities there might be,” said Commissioner Bernadette Pelissier. “I have felt with these three sites that surely there must be more options.”

But while both boards prepared to go back to the drawing board, Commissioner Earl McKee reminded the his peers that the new facility is not a town library, rather, it is meant to serve all residents in the southern half of the county.

“Parking is a major issue for me in siting this library, because there are a great number of people who will need to use this library that will not be on bus routes, will not be close enough to walk, and will not be close enough to bike,” said McKee. “So I have a real concern with placing a library downtown where I know there are parking issues.”

In the end, commissioners agreed to wait for feedback from Carrboro officials and invited the aldermen to join them for a presentation on the Orange County Library’s strategic plan.

The Board of Aldermen will discuss the library locations on April 9. The strategic plan will be presented in early May.