A study of the commons led by the Carrboro Public Works Department revealed problems such as surface erosion, flooding, lack of parking, sustainability, traffic accommodation and a need for more lighting and electrical access, said David Jantzen, the town’s landscaping and grounds supervisor.
The Town Commons is home to Carrboro Town Hall and hosts a variety of events, including concerts, private events, political rallies, Carrboro’s tree lighting ceremony and the Carrboro Farmers’ Market.
“These type of things that happen are important for the community,” said Trish McGuire, Carrboro’s planning director. “It is a pretty interesting and vibrant location.”
Jantzen said some of the proposed changes include incorporating more bicycle parking, providing more shade access, adding more lights, installing more electrical outlets and growing low-maintenance plants.
The farmers’ market has occupied the Town Commons since 1996. The market was moved to the space when it negotiated with the town to build pavilions at the commons for the market.
Carrboro Vision 2020, a guide for Carrboro’s future policies, classifies the Town Commons as an area for music events as well as the location of the farmers’ market.
But problems with the current state of the Town Commons make it difficult to host events there.
“Right now, when we get inclement weather, the place gets muddy,” said Erin Jobe, manager of the farmers market.
Jantzen said a survey to collect general feedback about the Town Commons was conducted from July to October 2013. He said this was one of a few methods to collect information, which included meeting with representatives, particularly from the farmers market, to discuss issues with the Town Commons.
“There was a lot of feedback gathered in that manner,” he said.
Jobe said the farmers market worked with the town to raise money for a third-party landscape architect to assess the Town Commons and see how the space was used on market days.
Jantzen said the plans for change are in preliminary stages, but no problems in negotiation have arisen so far. He said that although the area must balance the needs of different groups, there has been a general consensus about what needs to be addressed, and the new layout has been well-received.
Jobe said the changes will have a positive impact by making the Town Commons a more pleasant space. She said they will reinforce the ground where vendors and customers interact and make the grounds more like a park.
“The town has been extremely accommodating to the market’s needs and feedback,” she said. “I think they have been really supportive.”