Economy & Downtown

Chapel Hill's downtown has long benefited from its proximity to a captive audience of University students without cars. While downtowns around the country have been failing, ours has survived fairly well. However, we have seen an increase in the number of chain stores locating downtown, and instability in the Downtown Economic Development Corporation. In the near future, we will see new Town-directed development on two major parking lots have a big impact.
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Carrboro's downtown has also done better than many towns of comparable size, thanks largely to the presence of Weaver Street Market and progressive shoppers from the rest of the county. The Board of Aldermen has been addressing the evolution of the downtown, and have established a number of community resources in the downtown area including free wireless Internet access, and a low-power radio station.

Orange County Southern Branch Library Input Session

The Orange County Public Library (OCPL) will host two community engagement meetings regarding the proposed Southern Branch Library.

The purpose of the upcoming meetings is two-fold: to gather input on the current proposed location in downtown Carrboro, and learn what library services are needed by the community.

The meetings will be:

  • Tuesday, March 25, 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. at Hickory Tavern, 370 E. Main Street, Carrboro
  • Saturday, April 12, 12:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. at Carrboro Town Hall, 301 W. Main Street, Carrboro

“Unlike typical input sessions, these meetings will be interactive, creative and fun,” said OCPL Director Lucinda Munger. “Facilitated group exercises will be held to determine how people want this library branch to look and feel. And comments will be taken regarding the library’s location and activities.”

“We hope to hear many ideas for this future library,” she continued, “and have a wide range of folks participate in these important discussions.”

Gift certificates and library tote bags will be given to meeting participants.

Orange County is currently evaluating space in the 300 East Main Street development in downtown Carrboro to locate a Southern Branch Library in 2017. The new library would replace the Carrboro Branch Library, in McDougle Middle School, and the Cybrary, in the Carrboro Century Center.

Date: 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014 -
6:00pm to 8:00pm

Location: 

Hickory Tavern, 370 E Main St, Carrboro

Let's Create a County Database of Local Independent Businesses

Orange County commissioner candidate and local business owner Mark Marcoplos is proposing that the Orange County Economic Development Office create, maintain, and promote a database of the county’s local, independent businesses. Said Marcoplos: “Our local, independent businesses are the backbone of our economy. They provide the majority of business jobs while accounting for the biggest share of retail sales in the county. Additionally they help to bind our communities together. The government of Orange County should actively promote and support these businesses. To that end, we need a comprehensive database of local, independent businesses detailing the goods and services that each one provides.”

Marcoplos envisions a searchable database that residents could use to find providers of products and services in our local business community. With a strong, ongoing promotional effort, county residents could more easily find local businesses to meet their needs.

Ephesus Fordham Work Session

There was another well attended meeting  at lunch about Ephesus Fordham today. I asked questions about the projected differences in available Affordable Housing from Form Based Code vs. current Special Use Permit system for the area (they will respond later). I also asked if the property owners would have to pay a new stormwater fee (yes) and if the project could be developed to reduce the amount of stormwater run off. Currently the stated goals are to improve the water quality (reduce nutrients and dissolved solids) and maintain OR reduce the current amount of runoff. A number of neighbors are concerned about the increase in flooding. The watershed map shows the the Ef area is a relatively small amout of the watershed and probably is not the cause of the recent increase in flooding. There is probably some potential for reducing runoff with redevelopment as opposed to status quo. It sounds like there will be a town wide effort to increase the number of raingardens and other features to reduce runoff. (Something I promoted while running for Council.) There were a number of questions about runoff, flooding, traffic, greenspace, protection of current businesses and financing.

LIBERAL DEMOCRAT VS. CONSERVATIVE REPUBLICAN ! IS THERE A MODERATE IN THE HOUSE?

 It appears that as far as I can see on the political scene that there is a civil war here in orange county between liberal democrats and  conservative republicans. Where are the moderates of both parties.  Which of the current candidates of either party declare that he or she is a moderate liberal democrat or moderate conservative republican . Perhaps I might  declare I"M  a moderate liberal republican.  Gary Kahn

Carrboro, Chapel Hill may get Google Fiber

Google just announced that it's inviting 34 cities to "explore what it would take to bring them Google Fiber." Carrboro and Chapel Hill are among those 34 cities as a part of the Raleigh-Durham metropolitan area. Other area cities invited as part of the metro area include Cary, Durham, Garner, Morrisville, and Raleigh.

Google Fiber is the next generation of Internet access — Internet that is up to 100 times faster that current basic broadband access.

From Google's official blog:

We aim to provide updates by the end of the year about which cities will be getting Google Fiber. Between now and then, we’ll work closely with each city’s leaders on a joint planning process that will not only map out a Google Fiber network in detail, but also assess what unique local challenges we might face. These are such big jobs that advance planning goes a long way toward helping us stick to schedules and minimize disruption for residents.

We’re going to work on a detailed study of local factors that could affect construction, like topography (e.g., hills, flood zones), housing density and the condition of local infrastructure. Meanwhile, cities will complete a checklist of items that will help them get ready for a project of this scale and speed. For example, they’ll provide us with maps of existing conduit, water, gas and electricity lines so that we can plan where to place fiber. They’ll also help us find ways to access existing infrastructure—like utility poles—so we don’t unnecessarily dig up streets or have to put up a new pole next to an existing one.

You can read more about what could potentially be coming to Carrboro and Chapel Hill at Google Fiber's website.

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