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How to Spend Millions on Long-Term Recovery and What to do about Franklin Street?

How to Spend Millions on Long-Term Recovery and What to do about Franklin Street?

How to Spend Millions on Long-Term Recovery and What to do about Franklin Street?

By Katie Loovis on February 7, 2022

How to Spend Millions on Long-Term Recovery? 

Chapel Hill Town Council and Orange County Commissioners are asking how to best spend the millions of dollars in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding.

In Chapel Hill, community feedback revealed several key focus areas, including local business support, career development, and affordable housing. Applications for large and small proposals will open for staff review and council approval in the next month+. (Read more and watch the 2/2/22 Council discussion.)

Some projects being led or supported by Chamber members are well-positioned to help the long-term recovery of Chapel Hill, such as funding for:

  1. Innovative local workforce solutions that address our talent pipeline challenges, including the Summer Careers Academy and Hope Renovations, and 
  2. Big Bold Ideas (BBI) committee activation and support to deliver on the big goal and SMART strategies developed by the BBI Affordable Housing Committee 

In Orange County, the Commissioners are finalizing a long-term recovery plan, called Orange County Forward. The plan has seven recovery support functions, including an Economic Recovery Function, which focuses on “Returning economic and business activities (including food and agriculture) and developing new business and employment opportunities that result in a sustainable and economically viable community.”

The Economic Recovery Function has four strategies, each with several tactics: 1) Provide support for small businesses, 2) Identify and address regulatory barriers to economic recovery, 3) Drive local economic growth and encourage local spending, and 4) Strengthen and expand the local workforce. The Chamber President and CEO, Aaron Nelson, is on the task force and advising the county as they socialize the plan with the townships and community. The Chamber is committed to ensuring local businesses inform the process. (Read more and watch the 1/25/22 Assembly of Governments discussion.) 

What to do about Franklin Street? 

The NC Department of Transportation (DOT) will resurface downtown Franklin Street between May and August. 

Chapel Hill Town Council is thinking carefully about how they want to restripe the street post-resurfacing. Three options include continuing the 2 lanes of traffic and curb- or traffic-running bike lanes - or - go back to the 4-lane design. The 2-lane options present a trade-off b/w local business parking vs. bike safety.

This debate is leading to another discussion on what it means and what it takes for Chapel Hill to assume control of Franklin Street from DOT. Our understanding is that the town is working with Ramey Kemp & Associates to determine the final pavement marketing plans and will submit them to NC DOT by March 2022. Conversations about the Town assuming control of Franklin Street from NC DOT is ongoing (Read more and watch the 2/2/22 Council discussion).

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