“The weather is perfect because change is pending,” said Barry Jacobs, chairman of the Orange County Board of Commissioners.
The ceremony took place at 101 Edgar St. on May 15 and signified the beginning of what many hope is a new page in the history of the Rogers Road neighborhood.
When Interim Orange County Manager Michael Talbert failed to get attention with a microphone, he resorted to a two-fingered whistle to cut through the crowd’s excitement.
“Three years ago, I thought this day would never come,” Talbert said.
Three years ago, the Historic Rogers Road Neighborhood Task Force began working on bringing back the community center, which was closed in 2012 for fire code violations. The community center is part of reparations for the town landfill built in the Rogers Road community in 1972, which caused environmental concerns.
The community center is slated to open in October this year.
Talbert passed the microphone along to several speakers who talked about their pride in the work the community had done to get to this point. Those who took to the podium ranged from county commissioners to community leaders.
The Rev. Robert Campbell, president of the Rogers-Eubanks Neighborhood Association and the Chapel Hill-Carrboro NAACP, compared the groundbreaking to the dedication of the National September 11 Memorial and Museum, which happened on the same day. He said he was proud of the collaboration that allowed the community center to reach this point.
Orange County Sheriff candidate David Caldwell, who has lived in the area his whole life, said he wanted others to see his vision for the community. His vision includes language classes, computers and other plans which would promote diversity and keep kids off the streets, Caldwell said in an interview Tuesday.
Commissioner Renee Price attributed the neighborhood’s progress to this kind of vision and devotion.
“It was the legacy, the heritage and thoughts of the future that made this place happen,” Price said.
Members of the Chapel Hill Town Council and the Carrboro Board of Aldermen also attended, including Chapel Hill Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt and Carrboro Mayor Lydia Lavelle.
One of the more important attendees was not a local politician, but resident Gertrude Nunn, who has been living in Rogers Road for more than 90 years and is the daughter of the original founder of the Rogers Road neighborhood.
She said she was thankful the community had worked together to make the community center possible.
“I’m looking forward for the younger generation to go there and learn,” Nunn said.
Caldwell said he is looking forward to the opportunities presented by the new community center and wants to start where they left off. He said the neighborhood has tons of plans for the center that will be bigger and better than before.
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