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CH to share Rogers Road costs

By Susan Dickson
Staff Writer

CHAPEL HILL – Following similar moves by Orange County and Carrboro, the Chapel Hill Town Council on Monday indicated that they would share costs for both a community center and sewer service for the Rogers Road neighborhood, but council members did not specify how much funding they would provide.

The Orange County Board of Commissioners earlier this month said they wanted to move forward quickly in providing the neighborhood with a new community center, with or without assistance from the towns. Then last week, the Carrboro Board of Aldermen voted to share costs for the community center and the installation of sewer service, providing 14 percent of the cost of the sewer line up to $900,000.

The moves follow the release of an interim report from the Historic Rogers Road Neighborhood Task Force, which outlines 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.

Preliminary estimates for the sewer project are at about $5.8 million, but exactly how those costs will be divided among the towns and county remains unclear. The council asked Town Manager Roger Stancil to come back to them with options for how the council could fund their share – yet to be determined – of the costs.

The county will fund the approximate $500,000 in construction costs for the community center and has asked the towns to contribute to computers, supplies, permitting costs, connection costs and the first 12 months of utilities.

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.

Council member Jim Ward, who serves on the Rogers Road task force, said he would like to get the community center up and running as quickly as possible.

“I, personally, would like to move the community center on a faster track than the sewer, just partly because of its immediate impact on kids and partly because it’s an easier problem to solve,” he said.

Council member Donna Bell said she wanted to be sure that residents of the community wanted sewer service before it is installed, suggesting that residents be surveyed.

“What I want to be sure of … is that what we are bringing is what the community wants,” she said. “I don’t want to get down the road and for us to have brought sewer out and for people not to connect to the sewer. I don’t want for there to be a community center built and for it not to be used and facilitated.”

She added, “What I want to happen, whatever we do, is that this is a solution that takes us in a positive path of healing. … There is no amount of money on the face of the earth that I know of that is going to fix what happened in 1972.”

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