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Slade takes his seat on board of aldermen

By Beth Mechum, Staff Writer

As was decided at an August Carrboro Board of Aldermen meeting, newly elected Sammy Slade was sworn in Tuesday night at Carrboro Town Hall to finish the remaining few weeks of the seat John Herrera resigned. He will be sworn in again in early December to officially begin his term.

Slade’s first order of business as an alderman was to join the board’s unanimous decision to reject the bid received for the N.C. 54 and W. Main Street bus shelter installation project and authorizing a re-bid of the project. There are not sufficient funds to cover the project at the present time and Carrboro officials must find a source of money for the project before the Dec. 31 deadline.

Much of the meeting was taken up with a presentation by Orange Water and Sewer Authority on its long-range water supply plan. The point of the presentation was to receive feedback from the board before the end of the year. OWASA has been making the same presentation to other affected governing bodies in Orange County.

The key points OWASA representative Ed Holland made were that the quarry reservoir west of Carrboro offers the most cost-effective source of high-quality water and that OWASA wants to form agreements with neighboring utilities to purchase or sell water under appropriate conditions of supply and demand.

Another point Holland outlined is that OWASA customers became too good at water conservation. In 2007, when the area was experiencing a drought, many citizens pitched in by doing their part to save water. When the drought subsided, the newly formed habits did not. This cost OWASA revenue.

OWASA’s proposed strategy to combat this is to purchase water from neighbors before alerting the public of a water shortage.

Alderman Randee Haven-O’Donnell was the first person to take issue with this strategy, and many others chimed in.

Haven-O’Donnell said she felt the strategy wouldn’t help encourage people to continue to save water. “The habit we want people to have is to conserve,” she said.
Alderman Jacquie Gist referred to it as “the cost of doing good.”

Gist also said other reasons besides budgetary ones make it a good idea to conserve water – and that as a community, Carrboro appreciates those reasons.

In response to board concerns, Holland said he would take these issues back to OWASA members. The board accepted the presentation with the stipulation that at a later date members would put into writing any issues with the plan.

The board also heard a report from Town Manager Steve Stewart about the Capital Improvements Plan.

Stewart said Carrboro has about $38.1 million allocated to long-term projects such as the Weaver Street reconstruction, but many projects are in delay because of the economy.

Much of the presentation was spent discussing sidewalks with town staff member Patricia McGuire.

The remaining sidewalk projects that are proposed to be paid for with bond money are the Shelton Street sidewalk ($215,000), Davie Road sidewalk ($650,000) and Pine St sidewalk ($625,000.) The Estes Drive sidewalk project is unfunded and is projected to cost $1.2 million.

This brought up the question of which sidewalks should receive priority funding.
“I love Pine Street; I think it’s a great street,” Mayor Mark Chilton said. “But when I think about the hazards that pedestrians face in Carrboro, Pine Street doesn’t really add up to me.”

Chilton asked the town staff to look into alternatives for the sidewalks so the board can evaluate all sidewalk plans at a later date

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