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The Daily Tar Heel

Free parking will stay in Carrboro

Free parking on Roberson Street will remain a reality for Carrboro’s downtown visitors.

The Carrboro Board of Alderman finalized a $600,000 agreement Tuesday to buy a vacant lot at the corner of Roberson and Greensboro streets. The town has been leasing the lots for free parking for more than a year.

The lot formerly housed the Andrew-Rigsbee Hardware Store, which was torn down to make way for the proposed Roberson Square mixed-use development.

But plans for Roberson Square halted earlier this year when Suntrust foreclosed on the property Jan. 2.

Alderman Sammy Slade said there were six other entities bidding for the lot.

While most of the aldermen approved the purchase, Slade said he opposed purchasing the lot — which has about 90 parking spaces — for environmental and traffic reasons.

“The traffic issue is that in Carrboro we have a bottleneck situation,” said Slade.

“Without alternative roads, more cars will be coming, and traffic there will be worse.”

Slade also said that he felt the additional parking would deter the use of bikes, public transit and walking.

Matt Neal, who co-own’s Neal’s Deli about a block away from the lot, said he was happy with the town’s purchase.

“This was a good purchase for the town, good for businesses, and I think they got it for a good price,” he said.

But Neal said he hoped residents would still rely on public transportation to get around.

“I do really want the town to encourage people to use other forms of transportation,” he said. “It’s easier on traffic and pollution.”

Mickey Maloney, co-owner of the restaurant Glasshalfull on South Greensboro Street, said free parking is critical for his business.

“I’m pleased to know the parking lot will stay in business,” he said. “The availability of parking is definitely an asset to downtown merchants.”

Alderwoman Randee Haven-O’Donnell said the parking lot is a short-term solution for the lack of available downtown parking until the 300 East Main Street parking deck ­— which is under construction — is finished later this year.

“By building a parking lot we are allowing more vehicles downtown and the short-term vision of supporting the businesses,” she said.

“That doesn’t mean we are not going to continue to strongly promote bus, bike, and pedestrian transit.”

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