“The injustice that this community has endured has been well-documented over the years, and it is a very textbook example of what institutional, systemic racism can yield,” Carrboro Mayor Lydia Lavelle said at the ribbon-cutting ceremony.
During her speech at the ceremony, which was held at the Rogers Road Community Center, Lavelle read Board of Aldermen minutes from past meetings. Lavelle quoted Campbell asking for help in raising the standard of living for the neighborhood at meetings in 1997, 2008 and 2012.
Lavelle, Chapel Hill Mayor Pam Hemminger and Penny Rich, Board of Orange County Commissioners chair all reiterated that the sewer service project would likely never have happened without the persistence and determination of the Rogers Road Neighborhood community members.
That same persistence is what led to the opening of the new Rogers Road Community Center in 2014 and the creation of a community development plan in 2016. The Chapel Hill Town Council adopted updated zoning standards for the neighborhood to better align with the development plan.
The Rogers Road community started seeing greater progress in their work with local governments, former RENA program director David Caldwell said, when they focused on the importance of the vote.
“We didn’t have any power, so we had to put people in office that thought like us, and that’s what we started doing,” Caldwell said. “And we have to make sure that we keep those (people) in there.”
Campbell said that while the main sewer line is in place, homes still have to be connected. He said he hopes the connections will start in the next two weeks.
The Rogers Road Neighborhood is now looking to the future. RENA program director and manager Rosie Caldwell said her goal is to have a larger community center with a gym.
“Somewhere where the children don’t have to be out in the cold weather, they don’t have to be out in the streets,” Rosie Caldwell said. “They can come inside, be warm, be comfortable and have fun.”
Campbell said he wants to expand the community garden with the goal of eventually creating a community farmers’ market.
Sewer service was not the only thing to come out of the decades of meetings between the Rogers Road community and the local governments.
“We will always see each other,” David Caldwell said while sitting next to Hemminger. “Our lives are forever intertwined. Great friendships have come out of all this controversy and turmoil. Great, lifelong friendships.”