Orange County Commissioners have awarded a bid to finally build the Rogers-Eubanks Neighborhood Association Community Center.

“This has been a long time coming. This has been something that has been anticipated – but, I think, with some degree of skepticism.”

That’s Orange County Commissioner Earl McKee, who voted along with all of his fellow commissioners on Tuesday night to award a $522,488-bid to Riggs-Harrod Builders of Durham for the construction of the Rogers-Eubanks Neighborhood Association Community Center.

Director of Asset Management Jeff Thompson of Riggs-Harrod said that if the permitting process runs on a fast track, construction could start in early May, and take six-to-eight months.

The project has been in the works for a long time. It’s part of a remediation plan for the historically African-American neighborhood that straddles the jurisdictions of Orange County, Chapel Hill and Carrboro.

Residents have lived with a landfill and its environmental impact for 40 years.

The community center was put on hold last September, when bids came in at between $1.3 million and $1.6 million. Commissioners had authorized $650,000 for the project. So it was, literally, sent back to the drawing board.

On Tuesday, Project Architect Patric LeBeau of Perkins + Will in Durham explained to commissioners how small changes in design allowed for the bid to come in under-budget this time.

“The building has shrunk a little bit in height and elevation, but we feel like it’s still going to be a great community center. We’re happy about it and we hope you guys will be as well.”

The site will include a basketball court and playground. The building itself will have a large community room that holds 70-to-80 people for events; as well as office and kitchen space, a computer room, a library and a regular classroom. Commissioner Mark Dorosin expressed his excitement, and made this proposal:

“If this total project comes in for less than $650,000, I would support us committing to the $650,000 we said we would put in for any additional furniture or kitchen equipment – any of the things that might have been pulled out.”

The next day, Minister Robert Campbell, president of the Rogers-Eubanks Neighborhood Association, said he was grateful for all the people who worked together to get this far.

“There are so many things that can be accomplished with this community center,” he said, “to give our young people somewhere to socially engage, but also to help enhance the community through different programs.”

Campbell said those will include after-school programs, classes for parents, and nutrition workshops. He added that the center may also be home to a food bank.