In December, the Town of Chapel Hill closed on a deal to buy the American Legion Property, for $7.9 million. On April 8, the Town of Chapel Hill held a public engagement at the American Legion Hut. The event allowed community members to come and go as they please and provide their ideas on what they think the Legion property should be used for.
Consultants from Coulter Jewell Thames, a landscape architecture firm, led the discussions for the town. During the course of the event, the consultants provided information on the property, like where potential buildings could go, existing trails, buildings, and ponds, and areas where building was not recommended.
Dan Jewell, President of Coulter Jewell Thames, said the property, as of now, is “roughly 36 acres, about one third of that property is tied up in street bumpers, which we advised folks are areas not to build on, this includes a three acre pond. The land outside of those street bumpers is relatively flat, there is a big flat area out front where there is an existing parking lot and building. There is [also] an old ball field, relatively close the Ephesus Elementary, there is a lot of beautiful land and trees in the bottom lands associated with the street bumpers. There is [also] an old building out back with a dance studio.”
When it came to deciding between public and private services, the majority of people wanted the property to be used for public services. However, many also believed that a part of the property could be sold to another entity for development, preferably public-private.
Jewell stated that some of the common ideas for the area seen throughout the day included, “trails, open space, open playing fields, community buildings, and a multi purpose building for events and meetings. There were [also] some common elements upon things for kids to do, like playgrounds.”
Jewell also said that those who attended the meeting were able to, “write down their ideas of what they thought worked on the property. They were also able to sit down at tables in groups, with maps and a facilitator, to figure out how much room those things took up and where they might go on the property.”
In the end, he stated, they ended up with about seven or eight various uses for the property.
The Town has put together a task force that will represent the spectrum of viewpoints from the discussions. The purpose of the Task Force is to gather all the information and inputs people have given and deliberate them. They will review the ideas the week of April 17 and report out to the community in early May what they believe is best for the Legion property.
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