OCPL Celebrates Halloween; Leaf Collection; Safe Ride

CHAPEL HILL – The Orange County Public Library will celebrate Halloween this year by hosting a variety of fun activities and events.

All the events that the OCPL will host are free to the public, and people of all ages are encouraged to attend.  The first event, Countdown to Halloween, takes place on Monday October 21 from 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the OCPL main library.

The library will screen the world premiere of the Teen Murder Mystery 2013 Film, and hold an after-party including a costume contest, zombie mayhem, and Halloween trivia. For more information click here.


Chapel Hill will begin its annual leaf collection on Monday October 21 and continue through late February.  Residents may place loose leaves and pine straw that is free of debris behind the curb or drainage ditch for pick-up.

Crews will not pick up yard waste that is placed in plastic bags since they are often not compostable.  Instead residents may use 30-gallon paper bags, leave piles, rigid containers, or roll carts available through Public Works Department.

Pick-up for yard waste will be on Thursday for residents who have Monday garbage service, and Friday for residents with Tuesday garbage service.  For more information you can click here.


Chapel Hill transit Safe Ride will not operate on Friday and Saturday this weekend, due to fall break.

The Safe Ride will operate on Halloween from 11:00 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. along detoured routes.  The Safe Ride will not serve downtown Chapel Hill but will have stops near downtown.  For more information click here.


Chapel Hill Public Library Celebration

Hundreds of local residents gathered Saturday afternoon at the site of the Chapel Hill Public Library off Estes Drive to celebrate the opening of its newly renovated facility— a project that’s been about a decade in the making.


News Around Town: Carrboro Parking Deck Construction Begins; CHPL-UMall To Close

CHAPEL HILL-CARRBORO – The majority of the construction of a parking deck at 300 E. Main Street in Carrboro will begin on Tuesday after three weeks of delays.

One delivery of pre-cast concrete will occur between 1:00 and 2:00 p.m. Monday, and all-day deliveries will begin on Tuesday. The deliveries will take place once every 45 minutes or so and stop traffic on E. Main Street to allow one truck to exit the transfer space and another to back into place.

Connecting streets could also see delays including West Rosemary, South Merritt Mill, Greensboro, Franklin, Jones Ferry, and others. Emergency crews have been instructed to choose different routes during the construction times as well.

The Town of Carrboro has announced that the permits do not allow work to be done before 9:00 a.m. or after 4:00 p.m. so it will not have an effect on the busiest travel times.

The construction is scheduled to last approximately one month.


The Chapel Hill Public Library will close its doors at its temporary location at University Mall this week in preparation of opening its new location.

On Saturday, the UMall location will close and the materials will begin to be transferred to the vastly renovated building at 100 Library Drive just off Estes Drive. The Library will be closed for approximately three weeks. Town Manager Roger Stancil announced last week that it’s expected to open is doors officially on April 26 if all goes as planned.

Crews have been installing new furniture and library shelves as well as preparing the new building for the computers and other technology.

The Town has selected Hallett Movers to handle the transfer.

Books and library materials will not be able to be returned during the transfer. However, the library will adjust return dates so no fines will accrue during that time.


Concerns Brewing Over Library Expansion Operations Budget

CHAPEL HILL – When the expansion was approved for the Chapel Hill Public Library, Town officials knew that an additional $700,000 was needed for operating expenses. But the question now is when to complete the increase in funding to the library.

“We determined that it was able to support a maximum of 54 hours per week with the existing staff,” interim library director Mark Bayles says.

Those 54 hours compares to the 68 hours per week the library operates on currently.

Chapel Hill Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt says half of the increase has already been applied to the budget.

“Last year we went ahead and budgeted for an additional $350,000, increased the operating expenses by that much,” Mayor Kleinschmidt says. “And today the Council just has to answer the question: how are we going to achieve the remainder of there? Where is it going to come from, and when is it going to arrive?”

Additionally, he says the library isn’t the sole project the Council has to discuss for the upcoming fiscal year.

“(We have) some personnel restructuring; we have the solid waste issue with the landfill closing; we have the opening of the library,” Mayor Kleinschmidt says. “Those are just three big ticket items that we need to figure out how we’re going to provide for.”

The main concentration of the extra funds would be the addition of staff members to cover the 35,000 square feet of added space, which is more than double the previous structure. Bayles says the library administration has to wait for the budgeting plan before it can hire the additional staff.

“I was approximately, I think, five full-time equivalents; although, it wasn’t simply five people,” Bayles says. “It was a variety of additions to existing staff hours, temporary employees, and at least two new positions—one of which wasn’t full time.”

The 2012-2013 fiscal year ends June 30, but the new library is schedule to open sometime in April. The concern is that if new staff is hired and additional budgeting is not in place, the library would not have the resources to pay the additional staff.

A petition was started by a Chapel Hill resident that stated the Town Council’s budget for 2013-14 would “reduce the hours per week by 20%, from 68 to 54 (for the fewest hours of any public library in the region), cut Saturday hours by more than half, result in longer lines and less access to staff, and cut services and programs that benefit people of all ages and levels of income and education.”

Town Council Member Sally Greene says with the many different topics that need attention, and the different opinions Council members may hold, hashing out those items could be a lengthy process.

“My feeling is that the council would be delighted to be able to fund everything and every level we can, but we have a realistic understanding that we don’t have enough dollars to go around,” Greene says. “We’re going to be faced with very painful conversations about how to spread that money.”

And, she says there’s already been some conversation about how the town can at least get the library to that July 1 mark, but more work to be done.

“My understanding is that the council, before I got back on it in January, did recommend a library proposal that would in fact lessen the number of hours of operation a week from 68 to 54,” Greene says. “So that’s sort of where we’re going to be starting from. I would like to see it higher, but I just don’t know how that conversation’s going to go given all the priorities that we have to negotiate.”

The conversation is far from over. In fact, it’s in its beginning stages. The Chapel Hill Town Council is holding a budget work session on March 6, however the library’s operating budget is not on the agenda at this time.