The fate of a freestanding library in southwest Orange County remains unknown.
On Tuesday night, the Orange County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously not to purchase a highly contested site at 210 Hillsborough Road, which would have been used for the construction of a southwest branch Orange County Library.
The site is a 2.69-acre property located near Carrboro Elementary School.
Alderman Joal Hall Broun said she is hopeful the commissioners’ decision will not be a major setback.
The board held a special vote Tuesday to continue to search for a new location for the library.
“I consider it a bump in the road,” Broun said.
The proposed site had drawn criticism from neighbors and county officials due to its location in a residential area, its cost and several title issues.
Orange County would have had to pay more than $600,000 to construct the library.
And even after the area was rezoned for the library, neighbors threatened to sue the county about breaking building restriction agreements if the library was built.
“I believe that the title issues are pretty severe and could have a high financial impact on the county,” said Bethany Chaney, a Hillsborough Road resident.
“Go back to the drawing board and find another site,” she said.
Jenae Tharaldson, a Carrboro resident with two children in Carrboro Elementary School, said that a freestanding library in Carrboro would be more convenient than the current Carrboro Branch Library housed in McDougle Middle School.
“We try to come here often, but they have limited hours and books,” Tharaldson said.
Tharaldson also cited transportation concerns. “We like to walk and bike everywhere,” she said. “Having it nearby would definitely increase accessibility.”
But the fate of the library rests upon finding a satisfactory location, Carrboro Alderman Dan Coleman said.
“I think we need to hear from the county on what they’re looking at,” he said. “Citizens who are interested in the issue will also have a say.”
Coleman said he was surprised at the commissioners’ decision not to purchase the site.
Broun said if a location is not determined by February 2012, she will consider the project significantly stalled.
Commissioner Barry Jacobs said it will take cooperation between the town of Carrboro and Orange County to make the decision happen.
“It’s important for us to have partnership with the town of Carrboro and for them to join us in the search for a site,” Jacobs said.
Coleman said communication between the aldermen and commissioners has not been an issue.
“I believe the county has made it clear they are fully committed,” Coleman said.
“It’s been good communication.”
Broun said there is still a sense of urgency surrounding the southwest branch library.
“If you live in southwest Orange County, you have two choices, Hillsborough and Chapel Hill,” Broun said.
“A library in Carrboro would shorten the drive for a lot of people, save energy and reduce pollution.”
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