The Carrboro Town Council continued the discussion about Carrboro Connects, a 20-year plan for the future of Carrboro centered around racial equity and climate action during its Feb. 22 meeting.
This comprehensive plan will address topics such as affordable housing, climate and the environment, transportation and mobility, economic sustainability and land use in Carrboro.
As a part of the affordable housing portion of the plan, Carrboro Connects aims to increase homeownership and rental units that are permanently affordable.
If enacted, the town will complete projects aimed toward these initiatives from 2022 to 2026. For example, the town will seek funding and resources to expand the capacity of homeownership counseling service organizations and partner with affordable housing developers.
“Everything in the plan is a result of engagement with the community that has been received during the process,” said Carrboro Planning Director Trish McGuire at the meeting.
The planning process for Carrboro Connects began in the summer of 2020. According to McGuire, the council must conclude discussions on the plan by July 1 in order to meet the deadline.
The Carrboro Connects plan will also provide equitable access to parks and green spaces. According to Trust for Public Land, only 27 percent of Carrboro residents live within a 10-minute walk of a Town park.
The council received input from the public about the plan.
Diana Newton, who spoke during the public hearing, said the implementation section of the draft needs major work because it is too ambiguous.
The plan does not mention how much implementation will cost, which is a big concern for Newton.
“I would say that a vision without sufficient implementation is a dream, so let’s be more than just dreamers,” Newton said.
Newton also requested that the town develop a digital dashboard, so citizens can find out what progress has been made in the project.
Bob Proctor, who also spoke during the public hearing, said while the word “equity” appears 180 times in the plan, he remains concerned the plan will not distribute new parks fairly.
He said any home within 10 minutes of any existing park will be at a lower priority under Carrboro Connects plan and will not receive benefits such as new or expanded parks.
In addition, Proctor said some locations that the plan considers existing parks are only playgrounds or basketball courts.
“Walkability alone won’t get equity,” he said.
Council member Barbara Foushee said at the meeting the town needs to take advantage of this opportunity to provide for the community.
“If we keep doing the same thing, we are going to get the same result,” Foushee said. “This plan is a major opportunity to move us into the future in an equitable and a sustainable way.”
Foushee said she received an email about an individual’s resentment for centering the plan around BIPOC individuals. Initially, she said the message felt like a “jab” at her because she is Black, but she realized it highlighted a need for education for community members.
“This (is not) about us,” she said. “We are doing the work, but it is about the community that we serve. I think we all know that, but they have to know and understand what we’re doing and also why we’re doing it.”
Further discussion of the Carrboro Connects plan will take place on April 19 and May 10.
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