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Carrboro Town Council candidates reflect on Bolin Creek Greenway progress, future plans

20231017_Le_City-bolin-creek-greenway-carrboro-election2
The Carrboro Town Council holding a council meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2023.

Since the Bolin Creek Greenway Conceptual Master Plan was adopted by the Town in 2009, the future of the greenway has been a key issue for the Carrboro community.

The master plan includes five total phases. Phases 1a and 1b have already been completed, and phase 2 is included in long-range transportation plans, according to the Town. 

The town council recently approved the Creekside Alignment as the preferred path option for phases 3 and 4 on Oct. 17.

Three town council seats are available in Carrboro in the upcoming municipal elections. Eliazar Posada, Jason Merrill and Catherine Fray are running on a slate, along with two other candidates, Stephanie Wade and April Mills.

All three members of the slate have actively endorsed the greenway and the Creekside Alignment. Mills did not respond to The Daily Tar Heel's requests for comment before the time of publication, and Wade declined to comment.

In a Q&A report from The Local Reporter, Mills said she is concerned about the Creekside Alignment. In the same report, Wade said she looks forward to further information that will be gathered when the Town conducts updated feasibility assessments, engages with property owners along the alignment, performs environmental, stormwater and water quality assessments and considers costs and funding options.

Posada said he has strongly supported the greenway even before he decided to run for re-election. Posada — the only incumbent in the race — also voted for the Creekside Alignment at the Oct. 17 meeting.

“I'm not thinking of this as a political stance, I’m thinking about it like this is something that we need to get done — this is a promise done to community many years ago,” Posada said.

Melody Kramer, a community member and editor for Triangle Blog Blog, said she will be supporting the slate in the upcoming election because of their focus on climate action and racial justice. She said the issue of the greenway connects to those goals.

“It will help us create a more equitable Carrboro, and more people can access the greenway and it centers our thinking around doing things at the local level that we can do to mitigate climate change,” Kramer said.

Some community members have voiced concerns that paving the greenway will negatively impact the health of Bolin Creek and be difficult to maintain.  

Toni Hartley, a resident of Carrboro since 2007, said the creek floods constantly and the stormwater will wash away any infrastructure built next to the creek. Hartley said the Town is constantly repairing the section of greenway near her house that has not been damaged by water.

Fray, another candidate for council running on the slate, has served on the Carrboro Planning Board since 2012. Fray said in an email that the Town needs to review expert analysis about the creek and environmental impacts.

If elected, they said they would keep a close watch on the process and make sure the Town doesn’t miss any concerns.

“I want this greenway to set a new standard for good infrastructure in Carrboro, so we need to do it right,” Fray said.

The approved Creekside Alignment option will connect the existing greenway to Seawell Elementary School, Smith Middle School and Chapel Hill High School.

Merrill, the third candidate on the slate, served on the Chapel Hill Transportation and Connectivity Advisory Board for six years.

He said the top contributor to carbon emissions that individuals make is their choice of transportation. Merrill said the greenway will benefit the climate by making alternative transportation methods more accessible.

Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 7 for the towns of Carrboro, Chapel Hill and Hillsborough and the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools Board of Education, and early voting is underway. Voting locations and sample ballots can be found on the Orange County website.

@DTHCityState | city@dailytarheel.com 

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