Orange wants Chatham to help with park

Orange County Commissioners on Tuesday night asked their Chatham County counterparts to kick in money for a park planned near the county line.

Moses Carey, chairman of the Orange County Board of Commissioners, said Chapel Hill's Southern Community Park -- designed with soccer fields, basketball courts, picnic shelters and other amenities -- is expected to draw plenty of residents of Chatham County, and Orange would rather not have to keep them out.
- | Chatham aid sought for Chapel Hill park

We have an early discussion going on about whether Chatham County should kick in some bucks for the new South Chapel Hill park. One poster wants to know if Chatham contributes funds can we get the sales tax dollars we spend in Chapel Hill back. :)



I don't think it's such a crazy request. Check out this article in the Carrboro Citizen (but note the author says "Chapel Hill North" when I think she means Carolina North):

According to the Triangle J Council of Governments, Chatham County is projected to grow from about 28,000 in 2005 to 70,000 by 2035, nearly 150 percent, while Chatham County employment is estimated to increase from about 9,000 to about 11,000, 0.7 percent, over the same time period.

By comparison, Chapel Hill employment is projected to increase from about 35,000 in 2005 to about 81,000 in 2035, 130 percent. Chapel Hill's population is estimated to grow from about 52,000 to about 81,000, about 1.5 percent, over the same time period.

It seems to me that way more Chatham residents are using Orange County resources than the other way around.

Someone once told me that Chatham has no library, that they use the Chapel Hill library. True?

Also, let's not play the "we drive into your town to shop" game, since that also increases our pollution, road wear & tear, congestion, etc. I'm sure there is a planner somewhere that could calculate the benefit to OC and CH with respect to Chatham if they were interested.

I have a suggestion, how about Chatham pony up the money for a signal, cut-through, and entrance for their citizens that are heading North on 15-501 and want to enter the park. As it is, all that traffic will have to enter Southern Village and move around the square to the park & ride lot.

I thought there was going to be an additional entrance from Dogwood Drive since the park spans both north and south of it. But I haven't looked at the plans in a long time.

There will be a small parking lot at Dogwood Acres Drive, you're right. And, last I heard there will be a DOT-paid for traffic signal. So, perhaps that will be that. I'm really hoping they DON'T put the parking lot on Dogwood Acres Drive and leave the Southern park as a mostly wooden trailways, like it is now.

As someone who will be a heavy user of the park, I'm still bummed about the clear-cutting that will take place. Not going to find such a nice, wooded, dirt path to jog along anywhere else close to home.

Question answered:

Maybe Chapel Hill should just charge a fee for out of county residence, like we pay to use their library (a lot of North Chatham folks do that because of the lack of a library in our area).

The forum linked to above seems to be pretty sure that they won't be using the park, so I'm sure they would have no problems if their kids were blocked from Rainbow soccer, YMCA sports, etc.
Just kidding, I would never propose that. Actually, the more I think about it and stop kidding about it, I think it is a horrible idea to ask them to pay for part of the park. Maybe at its conception they could have planned out something like an Orange-Chatham park that would be located adjacent to the county line and would have been paid for by both groups. But, to come in after the fact and start asking for money seems like bad form to me.

It reminds me of a house-hunting trip I took. We were looking at a house and the neighbor was out weeding a flower bed. We said hello and one thing led to another and he told us how unpleasant the current residents were. He then went on to use as an example the flowerbed (which was obviously on both properties). He told us how he had spent one weekend making the flowerbed, planting the bushes and flowers, trenching it, and mulching it. THEN, he told us how ungrateful the neighbors were because, by gosh, they didn't keep up their share of the work, they didn't trench it, they didn't mulch it or ANYTHING! When I asked if he was saying that he built a flowerbed in his neighbors yard, without asking, and was upset that now they wouldn't take care of it, he STILL didn't seem to realize how ridiculous that was.

In all fairness, Chatham County is hosting the UNC park and ride to reduce the amount of traffic coming into campus. They pay a few to use the Chapel Hill library, and many of us who live in the southern part of the county give them our grocery shopping business.

Duncan, the barriers idea is laughable and I'm betting that Moses Carey wishes he could have that one back. Chatham did well to get the bad Commissioners out of office, but it sounds like now y'all have to step up and fix your county.

Good luck.

I think Robert got to the root of the issue. Chatham should have been a partner from the beginning, if Orange expected them to chip in.

There are two libraries that I know of, one in Pittsboro and one in Siler City.

I think what's irking people down here in Chatham is not the idea that the county might chip in to help finish off a park on the border that was sited by Orange County years ago, and will possibly be an amenity for future-residents-to-be-named-later. It's the tenor of Moses Carey's remark that Orange County would have to get some money to avoid "thinking about barriers," presumably to Chatham residents using the facility. Not only has he (and possibly others) already thought about barriers (he wouldn't have mentioned it otherwise), but no one likes to be threatened. Why Carey floated a threat is beyond me, but don't be surprised if Chatham County tells Orange County to go f--- itself, and leave Orange County to figure out how to segregate Orange Countians from others.

We have a crisis in Chatham County: projected growth far outstripping the county's service capacity: schools, water, police and fire. We're headed for a school meltdown like Wake County's if we don't get it together. If it comes down to money either for 1)Orange County's fancy park, or, say, 2)Putting a real surface on Northwood High's ancient dirt track, or getting most of those kids out of trailers, I for one am for #2.

That said, there _is_ money earmarked for recreation in Chatham County, funded by development fees, that they're spending very slowly. There's money out there. Now if Moses Carey could just learn to ask nicely without making threats...

Patrons who reside outside Orange County and the city limits of Chapel Hill may obtain a library card for an annual fee of $60.

Also, Chatham County has two of its own youth soccer leagues.

It's true, in retrospect this request should have been made long ago, but I don't think the premise of Chatham helping out is unreasonable.

The over-development that Duncan mentions was no accident. The voters elected Bunkey Morgan & Co (in spite of obvious ethical and political problems) and they got what they asked for. Let's don't forget the huge deficit of employment in Chatham that is only going to get worse. Even if they don't come to work in Orange County (which lots do), many are using our roads to get to RTP. And we all pay the environmental cost of their over-development,

For anyone who hasn't travelled on the backroads of Chatham recently, there's a lot of people from Orange County commuting back and forth to Wake County. Lystra Road is crowded in the mornings!

In most of Chatham, it's quicker to get to RTP on 64, never going through Orange County.

The voters of Chatham County did not ask for rampant an unplanned growth in the Northeast sector of the county. When it became apparent that this is what the commisioners were bent on encouraging and approving, they were voted out.

Now we have to deal with the trouble caused by inane development. There are many issues that Chatham County has to reckon with -- schools, water, taxes. Low, low, low, on the list is enabling these new residents, whose arrival brings the crisis, access to Orange County's pretty new park. Making sure they have sufficient schools, water, and police and fire protection are higher on the list. Chatham is a huge county, much bigger than Orange County, but with many fewer people and fewer resources. We're going to have to dig deep and prioritize.

But, really, the craziness is in Moses Carey's approach to the park question. He's threatened to errect barriers barring Chatham County residents from a park they had no voice in developing. For many Chatham Count residents, the zoo in Asheboro is closer than that park.Maybe you all know more than I do, but the only semi-public park I've ever encountered that enforced membership is Gramercy Park in New York City. Is that what Orange County wants? How neighborly!

And I suppose we shouldn't even discuss Orange County's (and Chapel Hill's) own culpability in the housing boom soon to take over Northeast Chatham. The commisioners approved it, and they were voted out for it, but they didn't propose it; clearly the market sees a need for housing as close as possible to Chapel Hill without actually being in Chapel Hill. Discuss among yourselves why that might be.

It's not unreasonable for Chatham County to participate, in a limited way, in the Southern Park. But y'all have a funny way of asking for help. And when you know that your neighbor county is dealing with problems that are far more momentous than whether some new residents have access to an out-of-county park, Moses Carey's remark sound downright rude.

If the county can't pay for the park without asking for help from neighbors who are in an even deeper infrastructure shortfall, then perhaps we shouldn't be moving forward with the plans. There's a lot of open space at Southern Village, including a couple of playgrounds; Dogwood Acres folks don't want the park; and here in Heritage Hills we are surrounded by university property full of lovely trails. Plus we have Culbreth and the new high school with plenty of athletic fields. I can't see the the people living here in southern Orange County need a new park.

High school fields are generally off-limits. Middle school fields seem to be somewhat accessible.

Maybe there are ways that certain neighboring counties could ally themselves and share resources on a common sense regional agenda. I know that the state is divided up into economic development districts - how about a couple (or 3 or 4) counties working on a "Sustainability Alliance" or some type name that reflects other than gross economics? I say 2 counties in this case because partnering with Wake County would be a waste of time, although Durham could be worth exploring. Artifical political borders can be a hindrance. Just half-baked thoughts.

I think it would set a terrible precedent to try disallow Chatham County residents from enjoying a park built near the county line. The Triangle needs to grow together, not apart. At a time when Orange, Durham, Wake County, and others need to come together find solutions to common problems (transportation, environmental, economic growth) it would send the wrong message to exclude our neighbors from the benefits of Orange County. I work in Raleigh and on occasion play tennis at Millbrook Exchange Park, or walk around Lake Lynn, or do any number of things that Wake County and the City of Raleigh offer and I am happy for Wake County citizens to come here and enjoy the benefits of Chapel Hill and Orange County. We must learn to cooperate so we can grow together. It is time we stop thinking of ourselves in terms of Chapel Hill, Durham, Raleigh, etc. and beging to think of ourselves as citizens of the Triangle.

Southern Community Park is already a beautiful natural park--it is already heavily used by runners, dog walkers, bird watchers and mountain bikers (new log jumps just put in recently).

The mature forested area provides a habitat for wildlife, noise and light buffers, natural stormwater runoff control that protects the waterways it drains into--and of course it reduces carbon emissions.

During the public hearing there was almost an equal split between those who wanted it developed and those who wanted to hold onto one of the few (only?) town owned natural parks.

So with the even split why not err on the side of protecting the environment and wildlife habitat? Even better the natural park requires very little money in upkeep--it is currently open to all--even Chatham County residents who can enjoy nature and exercise without worrying about "costing" Orange County residents or being banned.

The plans for the natural park include parking lots, restrooms, office buildings, outdoor lighting, soccer fields and on and on. The protest signs against the development of this beautiful natural park were torn down as fast as they were put up---I haven't noticed any recently so I guess the protesters gave up.

Terri B. has questioned whether we really need to pave and develop this natural park. And in another thread Steve Hoge brought up the fact that other towns are moving towards protecting natural parks and open spaces. I agree with them both--we have to get over the mentality that it's not a real park until it has pavement.

If anyone wants to chain themselves to some trees when the bulldozers come I will be glad to join in.

(new log jumps just put in recently).

Too funny. There is a lot of deadwood on the trail these last couple months.

I'd just like to see them keep the Southern side of the park natural at the very least.


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