Carrboro’s new Comprehensive Plan is being ignored by Council

The Town paid $180,451 to the Illinois consulting firm Teska to facilitate the formulation of a Comprehensive Plan for 2022-2042. Scores of citizens donated thousands of hours to this process from 2020 to 2022. But to us it looks like our town council has already begun to ignore this plan before its ink has dried! So far they have not given any weight to one of the top goals, “Ensure all people in Carrboro have safe, equitable, and connected access to parks, open space, and recreational facilities.” The point of the Comprehensive Plan process was for the entire community to take a step back and to form a “big view” of our community’s needs, priorities, and land resources for the coming decades, rather than mindlessly chugging along with tunnel vision for one issue at a time. Here’s an excellent example of “tunnel vision” inertia: Since 2018, the move to expand the Davie graveyard has primarily been driven by the Public Works engineers’ realizations that they were running out of land in which they could dig more holes, without the Council ever stopping to consider whether that is really the best use of the Fidelity open green space.

On PDF p. 140, the September 2021 draft of the Plan included The Trust for Public Land’s ParkServe map, which “analyzed potential locations for new park locations in Carrboro” with the following considerations in mind:  “All areas that fall outside of a 10-minute walk service area are assigned a park priority, based upon an index of six demographic and environmental metrics:  Population , Low income, People of color, Health, Urban heat islands, and Pollution.” Our Fidelity open green space is near the center of its dark purple “Very High Priority” for a new Carrboro park! It’s underneath the first ‘r’ in the ‘Carrboro’:

A Fidelity park would be walking distance for the residents of the historic African-American Glosson-Alabama neighborhood and for the many Latino residents of the Collins’ Crossing apartment complex. Have the Town’s advocates for these folks asked them whether they would prefer a park or an expanded graveyard? The first of the six goals listed under Strategy 2.1 on p. 117 of the Adopted Comp Plan is “Prioritize access for BIPOC people and other underserved communities in siting new parks, allowing more residents to be able to walk to a park.” The last of the six goals listed under Strategy 2.1 is “Identify locations for a new dog park in a central location in Town to provide an amenity for dog owners and another opportunity for additional social and gathering spaces for residents.”

When public input was being solicited online in 2021, Testka’s map of our neighborhood gave the appropriate name “The Commons” to our Fidelity green space. Before we became engaged, none of the many public comments regarding Carrboro’s future priorities mentioned cemeteries, which indicated that that topic was of little concern to our general citizenry.

During the November 16, 2021 hearing for formulating the Comprehensive Plan, the Council unanimously approved a motion that included the request to staff to “look into cemetery space elsewhere” and a promise by the Council to “consider a park that is still respectful to the existing cemetery” during a future work session. As of April 2023 neither of these promises has been kept.

During the March 8, 2022 Council Work Session on the Comprehensive Plan, the Council voted to insert language into the Plan saying that the competition between graveyard expansion and creation of a park “is an ongoing community issue [that is] to be explored further”;  this ended up on PDF p.125 of adopted Plan. A year later the Council has still not truly considered creating a park here, they have not made any efforts to publicize this issue to our neighbohood (or to the town at large), and so far they have only considered the arguments for expanding the graveyard.

This overall 8.7 acre Town-owned tract is refered to three times in the PDF of the adopted Comprehensive Plan:  on pp. 125 and 150, and on the map on p. 151. The adopted Plan is mounted on our Archive.

WP4 Fishy Business? continues Why Park?

WP2 Unfair Parks was previous page