Chapel Hill nearly lost the beautiful American Legion tract to a development full of high end apartments. It is a testament to Mayor Hemminger’s leadership that the Town was able to revisit the use of this property, whose use had seemed to be determined by closed meeting proceedings in 2015. After hundreds of letters and much community input, the Chapel Hill Town Council agreed to purchase the 36.2-acre American Legion Property on Legion Road.
The driving reason for the Town’s purchase of the American Legion property was the need for a park in rapidly growing northeast Chapel Hill as described in the Town’s own 2013 Parks and Recreation Comprehensive Plan.
At its last business meeting of the year on November 29, the Town Council received a report from the consultant to the American Legion Task Force – the council-appointed citizen task force charged with giving recommendations to the council about what to do with the 36-acre American Legion property.
The Task Force, which was chaired by newly elected Council Member Rachel Schaevitz, met for the past eight months and their report reflects much work with citizens, town staff, and paid consultants to gather information, discuss options, and prepare recommendations. An update on their work is here.
After hearing a presentation from staff liaison Corey Lyles and task force consultant Dan Jewell, the council also received comments from numerous individuals who advocated for the property to be used for affordable housing. They also heard from the Orange County Visitor’s Board about an idea to construct a pickleball facility on the property.
During their discussion of the report, the council and members of the community acknowledged that work remains to be done to plan for the future of the property.
Council members also advocated for establishing a plan for making remaining payments.
During the meeting and in letters sent beforehand, citizens have expressed strong interest in allowing the existing Task Force to continue their work. A number of citizens have followed the task force meetings and are familiar with the property and the interests of the adjacent neighborhoods in this northeastern section of town. Read about the events leading up to the purchase of the American Legion property.
Given that over the next few years, over 1,000 new residential units will be added to the Ephesus-Fordham (a.k.a. “Blue Hill”) District, which adjoins the American Legion tract, providing public recreation amenities in this under-served part of town takes on ever greater importance.
It will be up to the new council to set direction for how this property will be used to meet the needs of our town and to establish next steps for moving forward.
We encourage the incoming Council members to take the time to review these facts and the good work of the task force as they deliberate about the future of the American Legion site.