Pittsboro selected for Chatham Agriculture Center location

Mar. 03, 2013 @ 05:01 AM

With regard to its proposed Agriculture Center, the conversation in Chatham County has focused on location.

There was some debate concerning the location — either in Pittsboro, the county seat, or Siler City, where a majority of the farms are located —  of the proposed agriculture center during the Chatham County Board of Commissioners meeting in February. Pittsboro, for it proximity to other county buildings, was deemed the final location, said Commission Chairman Walter Petty.

“Most of the topic was about whether we should move the center to Siler City,” Petty said. “The majority of the farms are in the western part of the county, so that would seem to make sense. But if you think about the department’s interactions with other departments, logistically it didn’t make sense to have it in Siler City.”

The proposed site for the new agriculture center is next to the Central Carolina Community College Chatham County’s campus, located at 764 West St., and is greatly needed by the county, said Chatham County Cooperative Extension Director Sam Groce. The current agriculture center was built in the 1950s and the extension office is beginning to see more and more complications, he said.

“We love our office space but we are seeing structure issues,” he said.

Throughout the years, clients who use the agriculture facility have gotten older and accessing the building can be a challenge, Groce said.

The new building haven’t been finalized, but Groce said it’s potentially a 33,000-square foot building with an exhibition hall for trade shows. It would also have several meeting spaces that can host varying numbers of people, he said. Groce said it’s estimated to cost $12 million and possibly open in 2016.

The close proximity to the community college allows for the two to better cooperate for the sustainable agriculture program and potentially include a livestock barn at the site, Groce said.

“I’d like to emphasize that we do serve the entire county and not just the extension,” Groce said. “We have programs for all the citizens of the county.”

Petty reiterated the center is still a number of years out until completion, but said he hopes the design will be settled on soon.