Chapel Hill shuts down Rogers Road Community Center

Ruby Sinreich's picture

This month the Town of Chapel Hill followed up on their promise to help create a community center for the Rogers Road neighborhood by... shutting down the center that neighbors set up for themselves for code violations! What?

Did anyone at Town Hall think twice before doing this? Did anyone think 'given our huge debt to this community and our stated goal of supporting a community center there, how can we help improve this center and bring it up to code?'

No, as if they were computers instead of humans, they kicked the Rogers-Eubank Neighborhood Association out of their home. What were they thinking?

Daily Tar Heel:

The community center — located in a 70-year-old house off Purefoy Drive — was shut down Aug. 11 for violating fire and safety codes.

According to a memo from Chapel Hill Town Manager Roger Stancil, the Rogers-Eubank Neighborhood Association didn’t apply for a permit to use the house as a community center when they opened it two years ago. The house also didn’t have necessary emergency exits, smoke detectors and an evacuation plan.

Rev. Robert Campbell, president of RENA, said they intended to use the house as a community center for five years until they could open a permanent center 

- http://www.dailytarheel.com/article/2012/08/a-promise-emptied  

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21 Comments

Molly De Marco's picture

There's more to the story

There's more to the story than what was reported by the Daily Tar Heel. The Rogers Eubanks Neighborhood Association has been running some wonderful programs for community members out of the Faith Tabernacle Oasis of Love Church and their homes for a long time while waiting for municipalities to honor their promises of a community center. Recently, they started running some of their programs out of a house that afforded them more space. Unfortunately, during the beginning work of the Rogers Road Taskforce, a bus tour of the neighborhood was taken with Chapel Hill Town Planning staff in attendance. They realized that this house did not have the proper permits to be used as a community center. Planning staff worked with the community to keep the house opened until the end of their summer program, including sending staff of the Chapel Hill Fire Department out to help the community make the house as safe as possible for the children using the house for summer programs (including un-sticking the painted shut windows).  

Now, RENA may be able to run some of their programs out of the church and private homes again, but obtaining a community center is critical. The historic Hogan-Rogers House could be moved and renovated for use as a community center, but funds are needed very soon because St. Paul’s AME Church has bought the land it sits on and will start building closely following the new year. If you want to help, donations can be sent to RENA, PO Box 16903, Chapel Hill, NC 27516. All donations are tax-deductible.

More information on the house can be found here: http://chapelhillpreservation.com/preservation-efforts/lloyd-rogers-house/

 

Ruby Sinreich's picture

Context

Thank you for providing some much-needed context to the story, Molly! (That is the often the DTH's weak point, I should have known better.) The Town staff have not been quite as heartless as it seemed, but I still think this was probably an avoidable outcome. 

I attended the meeting this

I attended the meeting this past Wednesday and was disappointed. Reps from Ch and C expressed concern over the concept of double taxation. The report/info packet from the committee contained proposals for apportioned financial commitments from each governmental entity to pay for the promised improvements to the Rogers Road neighborhood (community center and water/sewer).  The towns want the county to pick up more of the cost, suggesting that town citizens pay taxes to both entities and thus, should not pay twice for the same thing. I find this objection objectionable;  ALL of us who purchase homes in the towns know that we will be paying taxes to our town and to our county.  We know this going in. It is not news.  To start complaining about it now is a tactic to keep the towns from paying their fair share.  Or even an appropriate share.  I know budgets are exceptionally tight. But this argument is an unncecssary impediment  to righting the wrongs done to this community.  This community's needs must be moved to the forefront of our budgeting plans.  Their needs should be met sooner rather than later.  We cannot claim to be righteous people if we allow budget squabbles to delay the building of a community center for the people of Rogers Road.  Here we are in Liberal Orange County, Liberal Chapel Hill, and some would say, even more Liberal Carrboro--It is long past time for us to Walk the Walk.No more delays. Pay the piper.  Get it done, and get it done now. 

Damon Seils's picture

Re: I attended the meeting this

Vicki, I'm with you on the importance and urgency of finding a resolution. With regard to the financing, I would be interested in your thoughts about two county residents. County resident A lives on Mallard Court, which lies within the Chapel Hill town limits. Her neighbor, county resident B, lives behind her on Azalea Drive, outside the Chapel Hill town limits. Should these two neighbors make different contributions to the remediation fund?

Interesting question

Damon, your question seems so simple. But do we know if county-only residents have contributed as much waste to the landfill per capita as county-town residents? Since the county does not provide trash pickup, county-only residents might not. Quite frankly, when I lived outside the town limits, I paid a private company to pick up my trash and I have no idea if they took it to the county dump. In any event, I thought a portion of the tipping fees were supposed to finance the remediation. How much money are the county and the towns haggling about? 

Damon Seils's picture

Re: Interesting question

According to the Task Force interim report, the share of waste volume placed in the landfill in fiscal year 2010-2011 was 19% from Carrboro, 42% from Chapel Hill, 9% from Hillsborough, and 30% from unincorporated Orange County.

Interesting answer

That's interesting that Carrboro and Hillsborough are somewhat heavy users of the landfill. But the bottom line is that usasge and population are reasonably correlated. This seems to be a good argument for just having the county pay for it to avoid double payment by town residents.

Jason Baker's picture

Hillsborough Waste

I am assuming the numbers Damon provided are for aggregated total waste. I wonder if Hillsborough's higher per capita waste percentage has to do with having a higher percentage of manufacturing/commercial space, which I imagine could generate much more trash than their residential counterparts. Similarly, I don't know off the top of my head what percentage of overall landfill waste is from construction, but it seems like Hillsborough also has had a higher (relative) rate of new construction in the past few years. These are merely conjectures - I haven't looked at the numbers to see if they are verifiable.But on the whole, it is clear that landfill use is roughly equivalent across the county. Funding remediation efforts at the county level seems to make the most sense in making sure that we each pay our fair share.

Need to think about history

Wasn't the landfill placed on Eubanks in 1972 by CHAPEL HILL??I believe CHAPEL HILL ran the landfill until late 90's or 2000's??When did OC and Hillsborough begin dumping in landfill?? If you add time to the formula it may show Chapel Hill and Carrboro should pay more.If you want to talk about inequities let's talk about the property taxes lost from OWASA taking Cane creek or Chapel Hill buying property for municipal facility on Millhouse and taking that property out of tax rolls for OC.  I guess it's ok for Chapel Hill to benefit at the expense of rural OC residents but not the reverse.  

More History

Also is the unlined section north of Eubanks causing the majority if the problem??How much of the problem is the lined south of Eubanks section causing??How long did OC and Hillsborough dump on the unlined side??I assume OC and Hillsborough dumped to the lined side from day 1.    

Thank you Amoose for

Thank you Amoose for pointing out that Chapel Hill started and ran the landfill on Eubanks Road. I sure at the time that some considered that location to be in the sticks.Has there ever been an audit of the landfill books? I am sure there has been, but I have never seen the results. Surely our elected officials did not operate on a break even budget with no reserve for future issues.

Damon Seils's picture

Re: Thank you Amoose for

The landfill has been used as a countywide resource since 1972, hence the November 30, 1972, landfill agreement between Orange County, Chapel Hill, and Carrboro that laid out the cost-sharing arrangement among the three entities.

Mark Chilton's picture

Hillsborough Clarification

Amoose, I believe that Hillsborough had its own landfill in the 1970's.  I am not sure exactly when they started using the one on Eubanks Road - certainly well before 1990.  But Hillsborough's waste has always been a very small percentage of the stream and Hillsborough never had any ownership interest in the Eubanks landfill. 

Mark Chilton's picture

The Landfill Fund is

The Landfill Fund is indpendently audited annually as part of the County's annual audit, but I don't think there has been any audit of the Landfill Fund apart from the County's regular audit.  I doubt that any such audit would reveal much, however.The Landfill Fund has been budgetting for closure costs for at least 15 years now and they do have a significant reserve set aside for the purpose (but I could not quote the numbers off the top of my head).  The problem is that the state and the feds have been routinely upping the closure requirements (probably a good thing in the long run).  Consequently the amount set aside for landfill closure costs in the past does not add up to the amount that is now required.Also, the landfill closure reserve funds were never intended to include the many additional landfill compensation items that are now under discussion. 

Dan Coleman's picture

Municipal residents should not pay more than their fair share

Vicki,it's just not correct to say "To start complaining about it [unfair cost distribution] now is a tactic to keep the towns from paying their fair share." Actually, this issue comes up all the time, most notoriously perhaps in regard to the cost of Chapel Hill providing library services to non-residents (like you and me). Elected officials deal regularly with issues related to tax fairness for our residents. It's usually not headline news so you may not always hear about it.Do you really mean "Get it done, and get it done now."? If so, a simple solution you and I could agree on is that we good people of Carrboro should go ahead and foot the bill for the sewer ($5.8 million) and get it done. The cost to you would be more than 50% of your current property tax bill. To most people that would be too much. So I suspect that you really think your share of the remediation costs should be somewhat lower. So do your elected aldermen and that is exactly what we are negotiating over: how to "get the job done" but do so by assigning costs as accurately as possible to those who bear responsibility, i.e. all of us in Orange County.BTW, a minor irony in this is that, to whatever extent Carrboro tax dollars contribute to the remediation, a resident on the Carrboro side of Rogers Road would contribute significantly more to her own remediation than someone living on what is conventionally called "the Chapel Hill side" (but is actually extra-municipal side).  

Damon Seils's picture

Interim report now available

The August 22 interim report of the Historic Rogers Road Neighborhood Task Force is available at the links below: