Residents Offer Input on Plan for Village Center
Proponents of a plan to revamp the downtown village center say input from residents has been "demonstratively positive."
"It's encouraging to hear the remarks," said Alan Stagaard, an architect who was part of the presentation. "I think it means we have a handle on what we need to do and how to proceed."
Stagaard has been one of a cadre of presenters of a proposed preliminary plan for the "revitalization of the village center."
Since late April, the presentation has been made at various public meetings to gauge public opinion on the project before a group goes to Atlanta on June 30 to discuss the proposal with representatives from the National Park Service.
The final presentation is slated for 6 p.m. Thursday at Village Hall's Assembly Hall.
On Tuesday, about 40 residents attended the second-to-last presentation. The cost and size of a possible expansion of Given Memorial Library, as well as parking and the possible impact to the village's National Historic Landmark status, were raised.
Council member Doug Lapins and Mayor Ginsey Fallon both spoke during the meeting. Lapins said the proposal is not a catch-all solution to bring businesses downtown, but rather should be viewed as a piece to that puzzle.
"What should be driving us is revitalizing the village," he said, "and this, I think, is supportive of that."
The plan proposes a donation of land for a possible expansion of the Given Memorial Library and Tufts Archives, creation of an open green space area, shifting the sand parking lot and some streetscaping.
It includes three main parts. The first is the donation of about eight-tenths of an acre of land in the Village Green to the library to expand the building to meet the needs of a growing population. The library is privately owned and has asked for the land from the village so it can consider expanding.
The second part calls for converting one end of the current sand parking lot into a green space and then extending the other end of the lot to accommodate more spaces.
The parking area in front of the Old Department Store building at Cherokee Road and Village Green West will be turned into a grassy area with angled parking on the outside of the green space. Additional streetscaping also would be done along Chinquapin Road.
Proponents say the plan will add parking and improve the connectivity between the Village Green and the downtown businesses, while streamlining traffic flow in certain areas.
At prior meetings, opponents have said the plan would move parking too far away from downtown businesses, as well as possibly harm the village's landmark status. Others expressed concerns that angled parking is unsafe.
The proposal has been presented to the council and in two other public meetings.
The Village Green is part of the Pinehurst Historic District, which was designated as a National Historic Landmark (NLS) in 1996. At the time, the landmark nomination included an inventory of 317 buildings, sites, structures and objects within the 766-acre district.
In 2008, the National Park Service - which administers the landmark program - placed the village's historic district on a "watch list" because of concerns about the construction of a roundabout at Carolina Vista and N.C. 2. The Park Service said the roundabout "drastically altered a key intersection" within the village's "distinctive system of curvilinear roads that were originally designed by Frederick Law Olmsted."
There are four levels that a landmark site can fall under. Priority 1 indicates there is no known current or potential threat to a landmark. Priority 2, or "watch," indicates that it faces impending actions or circumstances that likely will cause a loss of integrity.
Priority 3, or "threatened," indicates they have suffered, or are in imminent danger of, a severe loss of integrity. The emergency level indicates that recent catastrophic damage has occurred, which requires immediate intervention.
Representatives from the Park Service have indicated by letter that changes to the historic district could threaten the landmark designation.
A letter sent to the village dated April 23, 2011, says, "The cumulative effect of a series of often unrelated and seemingly minor impacts on contributing resources can, over time, so diminish the district's integrity that the NPS would be forced to reconsider the property's NHL designation."
Stagaard downplayed that letter, saying representatives from the Park Service reacted positively to a preliminary sketch.
Contact Tom Embrey at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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