Due to a reporting error, a previous version of this story misquoted Carrboro Town Manager Steve Stewart as saying the town doesn’t have money set aside for a detailed traffic impact analysis for a proposed freestanding Carrboro branch library. This story has been changed to reflect this correction. The Daily Tar Heel apologizes for the error.
Past and present Carrboro residents voiced their opinions on the proposed location of a Orange County Public Library branch at a crowded public hearing Tuesday night.
With the bulk of the opposition for the 210 Hillsborough Road site coming from surrounding neighborhood residents, the Carrboro Board of Aldermen requested more information on how a freestanding library could impact local traffic flows before the board makes its decision April 19.
Town Manager Steve Stewart said the staff would try its best to fulfill these requests, but the few weeks before the next meeting don’t leave them much time for thorough analysis.
There is a public library in Chapel Hill, but it is not part of the Orange County library system and charges those who live outside the county and the city limits of Chapel Hill $60 per year to use its services.
Orange County currently offers three libraries — two located in Carrboro — but the proposed location would cater to those in the southwestern part of the county.
At a current estimated cost of about $7.5 million, constructing the proposed library in Carrboro would be a less expensive alternative to paying for residents to use the Chapel Hill Public Library.
But some residents pointed out problems the proposed library location could pose, like traffic congestion, pedestrian safety, lack of parking and preservation of the historic neighborhood.
“You would be building this in my backyard and destroying the neighborhood,” Carrboro resident Jeff Rubish said.
“We’re opposing the location, not the library. My grandfather would turn over in his grave if he knew this was being proposed.”
Former Hillsborough Road resident Bobbie Stanford said she felt there was a lack of consideration for neighbors of the proposed location.
“We’re asking a few people to take on a huge burden,” she said.
But Friends of the Carrboro Branch Library representative Nerys Levy said 313 county residents signed an online petition to support the re-zoning of the proposed location from residential to business to create a free-standing library.
“Nothing should hinder our progress if we’re working toward the greater good of the community,” Levy said. “We’ve been waiting 24 years for this moment.”
Carrboro resident Jackie Allen said she also supported the proposed location.
“This is a site that many people can walk to, ride bikes to or take the CW bus line,” she said. “I think the best way to deal with the concern about cars would be lowering the speed limit on the street.”
But the decision will not be an easy one for the aldermen to make.
Alderman Randee Haven-O’Donnell said she looked forward to receiving more information on the issue.
“We’ve been tackling this for over 20 years,” she said. “We want a library, but we don’t want to be backed into a corner in order to get one.”
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