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County pledges to build community center

By Rose Laudicina
Staff Writer

With or without assistance from the towns of Carrboro and Chapel Hill, the Orange County Board of Commissioners has stated they intend to move forward quickly in providing the Rogers Road neighborhood with a new community center.

Although the commissioners said they would like to work jointly on the issue with the towns, in a meeting last week they made it clear that at some point the discussions need to make way for action.

“I would like to see this board make a commitment to move forward with that community center. And if we have to move forward solo, then we do it, and with a rapid pace,” Commissioner Earl McKee said.

At their meeting last Thursday, the commissioners received an interim report from the Historic Rogers Road Neighborhood Task Force, which out lined different options for providing sewer service and a community center to the neighborhood as part of a plan to mitigate the effects of the Orange County Landfill in the community.

The task force, formed in February 2012, is made up of representatives of the board of commissioners, Carrboro Board of Aldermen, Chapel Hill Town Council and the Rogers-Eubanks Neighborhood Association (RENA). The group’s charge was to investigate and make recommendations about improvements to the neighborhood and how those improvements would be funded.

Assistant County Manager Michael Talbert presented the task force findings to the board. He told commissioners it would cost an estimated $5.8 million to provide sewer service and that there was no consensus from the task force on how to finance the construction of a community center.

“If this board does not make a commitment to see this community center built, it will not get done in the very near future,” said Commissioner Valerie Foushee, who serves on the task force.

The Rogers Road neighborhood previously had a community center run by RENA, which offered after-school and summer programs and served as a food pantry, but it was shut down in August for violating fire and safety codes.

The commissioners felt that because the community center was dismantled, it should be the board’s number-one priority to provide the neighborhood with a new one.

While the board plans to continue to work with the towns and the task force to find funding and fulfill past promises to the community, it will also begin making more plans in October for the construction of a community center.

“We can’t sit around and wait for the towns to take months or whatever it may be,” board Chair Bernadette Pelissier said. “We need to take action.”

The board unanimously agreed to ask staff to start looking for additional money to build the community center, to ask Chapel Hill to expedite the permitting process for the center and to ask Chapel Hill and Carrboro to consider paying for supplies, permitting and connection costs as well as the first year of utilities for the center.

Additionally, the board agreed to postpone discussion of the sewer service plan until the task force presents its final report.

  1. Chris Weaver

    ….It’s about Time Right?
    40 years of Promises and Poisoned Earth.
    Not allowed a variance to continue operating in the center they have until the new one is built…
    One Political Party is represented in all cases.
    It is not the Party Of Abe Lincoln.