As a part of Chapel Hill’s Rosemary Imagined program, community members sounded off about three proposed variations for downtown redevelopment plans at community review meetings Thursday.
The program is a part of Chapel Hill 2020, a larger initiative for the future of the town.
“If there’s a community consensus around a particular site, that tells the world, ‘We want change to happen here,’” said Chapel Hill Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt .
He reminded the community the drafts were early in their development stages and ultimately what happens downtown is in their hands.
The meetings featured maps for each of the proposed plans with space for attendees to write what they liked and what drew their concern. Each draft suggested space for structures like a food market, room for parking and a transit center for buses.
Meg McGurk, executive director of the Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership, said the point of the meetings was to get the community’s feedback and use it to refine the plans during the next few weeks before bringing them back to the public in late May.
She added this process had already been going on for a year and will continue until the Chapel Hill Town Council votes on a plan in August. McGurk said there has been a lot of community feedback.
“We’ve had lots of input up to this point, and this is a reflection of that,” she said.
One of the focuses was a transit center situated in the space next to 140 West Franklin, which would redirect buses off of Columbia Street and alleviate traffic .
Megan Wooley, a housing and neighborhood services planner , said in 10 to 15 years the traffic could be overwhelming without a change.
“If you’re sitting in your car and you’re trying to go up to MLK, you’re going to have to wait for at least three to four light cycles,” Wooley said.
The transit center could also make transit via buses easier as a central location for bus commuters to make transfers, which Wooley said were currently difficult due to scattered stops.
Many members of the community said they were concerned with the unwanted traffic this transit center could bring to Rosemary Street, although one of the drafts proposed alternative routes for buses.
Other plans for the downtown area included three new streets that would connect Franklin and Rosemary Streets to create a more walkable area as well as a technology center meant to draw in tech-based businesses.