Aldermen, please designate the cemetery meadow as a quiet green space.

Preserve this valuable green space for future flexibility

Town Hall thinks of the meadow as a random vacant lot

Quiet Green Space designation is essential

Infill is good, but no one wants to live in a town that is paved over. All of the true parks in Carrboro are north of Main, surrounded by single family homes. The meadow in the town-owned Westwood Cemetery on Fidelity is the only significant public green space south of Main. (The Farmer’s Market is half dirt and concrete, and it’s nearly on Main anyway.)

Preserve this valuable green space for future flexibility

The Fidelity-Davie neighborhood in central Carrboro is the densest part of town. On Fidelity Street and in Fidelity Court, there are over 500 residents. There are close to 500 more nearby on Davie and Poplar. These folks are mostly short term residents (grad students and postdocs) or working class people. Neither population talks to Town Hall much.
Given the natural ridge along the cemetery’s driveway, it would be easy to plant screening so that some people could use the meadow for relaxation and quiet exercise, without disturbing visitors to the graves. In the future, a small winding paved path could be built to provide access for baby carriages and wheel chairs. A wood platform surrounded by wood benches could be built for ceremonies, including weddings. It might be decided to use some non-rocky portions for more graves, or to build a columbarian to store the ashes of the departed. All of these uses would be impaired by having utilitarian facilities such as the Google hub present.

Two Deer .JPG

Town Hall thinks of the meadow as a random vacant lot

In 1989 the postal service said that the old post office by Wendy’s was too small. Since having the new post office be as close to downtown Carrboro as possible was deemed to be the top siting priority, there was consensus in Town Hall that the cemetery meadow should be used. Some neighbors objected, but the main credit for rejecting this choice went to the Town’s Cemetery Commission. The postal service also did not like the site, partly because it was too small for them: If this had come to pass, the entire meadow would have become a parking lot for mail delivery vehicles. The new post office ended up on the major road NC-54, and it became more central as we have grown toward the west.
Around 1994, Mayor Mike Nelson told Bob Proctor that Town staff was seriously considering using the meadow for the town’s new Public Works yard, e.g. to store garbage trucks. He asked Bob what he thought the neighbors might say. Bob replied “Don’t even think about it.” Nothing came to pass: Unmarried young Mike had lived in Fidelity Court, in White Oak, and on Poplar. So he appreciated this meadow.
For many years Public Works has used the area by the end of the cemetery’s driveway as a “staging area”. Usually this means that piles of dirt are stored here, surrounded by garish orange fencing. Sometimes construction equipment is stored here, near many recent graves.

Quiet Green Space designation is essential

Given this history of the Town’s staff lack of respect for open urban land and the lack of any official status for this meadow, it is not surprising that the 2016 developments described in No Public Input occured: The opaque Google siting process was designed by Town staff to be as speedy as possible, and this meant sidestepping any public discussion. Not even the next door neighbors knew what would happen before the bulldozers arrived in April.
Going forward, it is essential that the Aldermen clearly state to the Town’s staff that this land is not to be considered again for utilitarian purposes. Otherwise there will be the danger that future staff members will again regard this neighborhood’s transient and working class population as not deserving tranquil green space (as do the soccer Moms on the “good” side of Main). We all own this land; it does not belong to the Town’s staff. This meadow is uniquely valuable, and in the future the public must be fully involved from the outset in forming plans for it. Given the demographics of this neighborhood: Any pre-formulated plan will probably glide through Town Hall without public input, unless the neighborhood is fully notified well in advance.

Cemetery Sign .JPG

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