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The Daily Tar Heel

Orange County Public Library’s southwest branch location search continues

Finding a site for Orange County Public Library’s southwest branch has been no easy task — an initial location was rejected after $60,000 had been spent investigating the spot.

But tonight, the Board of Orange County Commissioners will join the Carrboro Board of Aldermen to explore how they should go about trying again.

The original proposed 210 Hillsborough Road site was unanimously rejected at the Aldermen’s Aug. 23 meeting.

That site was turned down because residents were concerned about its proximity to residences, cost and several title issues.

Steve Yuhasz, vice chairman of the board of commissioners, said this time around, commissioners will be more aware of potential problems with different sites.

“One of the things we learned is that if there are limited site options then the sites that you have to choose from may have some restrictions or difficulties that might not be immediately apparent,” he said.

“And it’s that process of investigating the specific site that will turn up specific issues that are just not obvious on the face.”
Carrboro Alderman Dan Coleman said town residents are still very eager to have a library in their part of the county.

“People in Carrboro have advocated for this library for a good 20 years,” he said. “So basically (we want to find a location) ASAP, understanding the financial and other limitations the county is under.”

In an Oct. 6 planning meeting, the commissioners discussed a three-phase process for screening potential sites, which includes requirements like capacity and community preference.

Yuhasz said the criteria had been identified by the task force, the library and the county staff.

He said he hopes the town of Carrboro will consider creating a specific provision for the zoning of public libraries in town code. He said the commissioners also plan to open discussions with Chapel Hill, since the southwestern branch does not have to be in Carrboro.

He said there is no timetable for finding a site, but the search remains fairly high priority.

Carrboro resident Clay Carmichael said she’s disappointed the original Hillsborough Road site wasn’t chosen. An author and resident of Hillsborough Road, she said the location would have been convenient because it was downtown and near Carrboro Elementary School.

“I wish I’d been more involved because that would’ve been an excellent location, especially right by the school,” she said. “A library is a good thing to have next door, I think, but I was in the minority.”

But she said she’s okay with a site further down the road.
“We’ll just have to ride our bikes now.”

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