The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Saturday September 18th

Walking Tour Focuses on Downtown Vision

The Carrboro Board of Aldermen sponsored a weekend-long planning workshop at the Century Center to discuss Carrboro's "Vision 2020," the town's urban development plan to guide the growth of its downtown area into the new century.

The workshop, which was aimed at bringing residents and planning officials together to share ideas, was run by Dan Burden and his colleagues from Walkable Communities.

Saturday's events drew over 100 Carrboro residents.

Burden said the preliminary proposal for the town's development will be ready in four to six weeks and that the plan will be finalized within eight weeks.

Jamie Ludington, a UNC graduate student in City and Regional Planning, said Burden is known nationally for his work to bring residents and planning professionals together to develop a vision for their community.

"(Burden) has helped town planners to get more feedback from community members," Ludington said.

Residents were invited to an open forum Friday night to develop ideas of what they would like to see done to improve downtown Carrboro. Items discussed included parking, building height, open space, housing and traffic.

Three groups of residents and planners participated in a downtown walking tour Saturday morning, which began at the Century Center at the intersection of North Greensboro and Main streets and canvassed the entire surrounding area.

Lee Rafalow, who plans to move to Carrboro soon, said the tour gave him an opportunity to voice concerns and present ideas regarding Carrboro's development. The groups then met together and presented their ideas.

Danny Pleasant, an associate of Walkable Communities, said the walking tour opened the eyes of residents to what needs to be done in the community. "I think the structure is there for pedestrian activities," Pleasant said. "There is a lot of connectivity. Accessibility is what concerns me."

Group members said they saw a need for improvements such as more sidewalks, crosswalks, parking lots, handicapped ramps, open areas and tree-lined streets.

Burden gave a comprehensive presentation with ideas about how to maximize space and walkability while keeping the area attractive.

"(Carrboro) already has some of the best public space available; you just have to use it," Burden said. "People want to spread out, bring the dogs, bring the kids and have a good time."

Burden suggested improvements such as adding modern and attractive parking garages, multi-use buildings, bike lanes, narrower streets and clearly marked pedestrian routes and crosswalks.

"(Carrboro has) the most dangerous intersections I've ever seen for pedestrians," Burden said, citing the intersection at Weaver and Main streets.

Residents and planners spent the rest of Saturday afternoon developing realistic goals about the vision for downtown Carrboro and passing the plans on to the official town planners.

"Most towns are built with a code book, not with common sense," Burden said.

"You have to build with your heart and soul."

The City Editor can be reached

at citydesk@unc.edu.

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