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The Daily Tar Heel

Towns Want to Share Facility

University officials have informed the Chapel Hill Town Council that they have no intention of renewing a lease on the site of their current public works facility.

The 25-acre site, which services UNC and Chapel Hill, is located on the Horace Williams tract. UNC leases it to Chapel Hill for $1 per year.

The lease expires Dec. 31, 2006, and although the University awaits the town's departure from the site, Chapel Hill and Carrboro officials have expressed interest in sharing a future facility -- either on the Horace Williams site or elsewhere.

But Nancy Suttenfield, vice chancellor for finance and administration, has refused to comment on UNC's intentions regarding a public works facility until local officials approach the University.

She also said UNC has its own plans for the tract. "We have a master plan for Horace Williams, and we have already committed to exploring the possibility of a school," she said.

Suttenfield said that while exact plans are not mapped out for the tract, which is expected to start undergoing construction in 2007, UNC cannot initiate construction until the town leaves the site.

UNC officials tentatively have planned for the Horace Williams tract to house mixed-use developments and research facilities that will tie into the University.

But town officials want the University to take this opportunity to consider co-facilitation, which could provide UNC, the town and Carrboro with service.

Like Chapel Hill officials, the Carrboro Board of Aldermen also need to relocate their public works facility and discussed the matter at Tuesday's meeting.

"The idea of co-facilitation has been kicked around for some time, and I'm glad to see (Town Council member Bill Strom) bringing it up again," said Alderman Jacquelyn Gist. "Public works facilities are incredibly necessary.

"They're expensive and they're hard to locate," she added. "If we could find one and do some sharing we would probably save money, we'd save land, we'd save imposition on neighborhoods."

The aldermen have authorized Carrboro Mayor Mike Nelson to pursue discussion with UNC officials for a possible cooperation. Strom said there exists interest in a preliminary meeting between the town, UNC and Carrboro to address the situation.

"I think the University should find a piece of property where they can offer the community similar arrangements to the arrangements that exist at Horace Williams, which is a long-term lease for a nominal fee, so we can continue to provide efficient public works service to the community."

The City Editor can be reached at citydesk@unc.edu.

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