Fishy Business? Why was favorable ParkServe map suppressed?

The ParkServe map (below) appeared in the September 17, 2021 draft of the Comprehensive Plan. During the public comments period for that draft, on October 16 the author of this website submitted an essay to the Comp Plan drafters that gave a number of reasons supporting the creation of a park in the Fidelity open green space. One of the strongest supporting arguments in that essay was its reference to this open space being at the center of that map’s “Highest Priority” area for a new Carrboro park. The dark purple “Very High Priority” area shown in that map agrees with common sense: It consists of the apartments & condos parts of Carrboro that are not close to any of Carrboro’s four large green parks. It was formulated by professionals who are dedicated to studying and addressing all of the obvious factors and the issues with which Carrboro is so concerned. Those six factors and issues were listed on the page WP3. So why was the highly park-favorable ParkServe map suppressed by removing it from the next draft and the adopted Plan?

In the place of the ParkServe map, a “Walkshed” map (below) appeared in the November 16 draft; both drafts are mounted on our Archive. It then later appeared on PDF p.124 in the adopted Plan, which is also on our archive page. It had been prepared by someone working for the Teska consultants according to a new (and extremely simplistic) criteria requested by some unknown people working on the Comprehensive Plan: They wanted a map that merely displayed the parts of Carrboro that were within a 10 minute walk of any place or building appearing on a list of “parks” in a Parks & Rec brochure. The WalkShed map appears below; the brochure is mounted on our Archive. The “any place or building” aspect here is a key point; as noted below half of the things satisfying that criteria are lame or silly.

If the people requesting this map swap were pro-cemetery, then this map swap strongly supported their side of this debate: In the absence of the ParkServe map, the Walkshed map ostensibly shows there is no need for a park along Fidelity! On this replacement map, the same dark purple color now (ironically) is used to show the parts of Carrboro that have no priority for a new park! All of Fidelity and 400 Davie neatly fit within a 10 minute walk of Town Commons (where the Farmer’s Market is held). The huge apartment complexes on Jones Ferry at Davie are also regarded as not having any need for a real park for the same reason. When an explanation for this map swap was requested in February 2022, the response received from a planning staff member was unconvincing. It appears below. Two key members of the Carrboro Connects Task Force that wrote and revised the Plan are two of the most vocal town officials in favor of expanding the Davie graveyard.

When viewed through the lens of equity, it is insulting to our neighborhood to be told that having Town Commons nearby is any kind of substitute for having a true park. Why don’t we deserve a large green park of our own? Are we subhuman because we live in energy efficient multi-family housing? Because of the Farmer’s Market and many other activities, Town Commons is unavailable during the prime recreation times on weekends. Even after the parking lots are ignored, over half of the surface area of Town Commons is paved; much of rest is covered with sterile bark chips. It has no large trees and the grass is worn and beaten down. It is surrounded by two large parking lots, a noisy car wash, and a busy street. The only recreation facilities provided are two picnic tables and a tiny playground for very small children. Other densely populated areas of Carrboro are ruled ineligible for true parks because of Simpson Park, Carrboro Elementary School, the Century Center, and Brewer Lane Mini-Park. The ruling of these areas to be ineligible are further insults to the people of humble means who live nearby. Carrboro Elementary has only a tiny baseball diamond and is off-limits during school hours. Brewer Lane has only an old forlorn slanted basketball court. Simpson Park consists of nothing but a small playground for small children. The Century Center is a building, not a park or a natural space!

With respect to the Plan’s overarching goal of giving equitable access to all people to parks and natural spaces, these simple common sense observations render much of the Walkshed map worthless while the valuable professionally prepared ParkServe map is nowhere to be seen. Was this map replacement deliberately intended by someone to undercut the apartments’ side of town’s case for getting their own real park on Fidelity?

WP5 Urban Heat Island completes Why Park?

Walkshed Map in 11/16/22 draft replaced Parkserve Map of 9/17/22 draft:

Staff response on 2/8/22 to query regarding map swap:
“The parameters used by the Trust for Public Lands to create their Parkserve map do not match all of the different types of recreational and natural areas accessed by residents in Carrboro which created inaccuracies. The 10 minute walkshed park access map that now appears in the Public Hearing Draft was prepared by Teska Associates Inc., the professional planning firm hired to assist the Town with the comprehensive plan. The new map was developed as a tool to better reflect physical access to Carrboro Town parks as well as different types of recreational and natural areas.”

WP3 Comprehensive Plan was previous page