Raleigh proposes $106.78 million in parks projects

ccampbell@newsobserver.comMarch 10, 2014 

  • Weigh in

    Raleigh residents have four opportunities to hear about the parks plan and offer feedback before the city council approves the final document:

    March 24 – 6:30-8:30 p.m. at Green Road Community Center, 4201 Green Road

    March 25 – 6:30-8:30 p.m. at Chavis Community Center, 505 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.

    March 27 – 6:30-8:30 p.m. at Lake Lynn Community Center, 7921 Ray Road

    March 29 – 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. at Five Points Center for Active Adults, 2000 Noble Road

— City leaders are seeking feedback on a plan to shape Raleigh’s parks, recreational facilities and cultural sites for the coming decade and a possible bond referendum later this year.

Later this month, the parks department will hold four public meetings to get a final round of input into the Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources System Plan. The latest version includes a list of $106.78 million in upgrades and new projects that could be included in a parks bond package on the ballot as soon as this fall.

City Councilman Russ Stephenson praised the plan, which is the result of a years’ work and dozens of public workshops to determine what residents want at Raleigh’s roughly 200 facilities. “It’s a really impressive body of work,” he said.

Topping the list of bond projects are sweeping overhauls for downtown’s Moore Square ($15 million) and Southeast Raleigh’s Chavis Park ($12.5 million), both of which have been in planning stages for several years.

The Moore Square renovations include modern amenities like an outdoor cafe, granite plaza and tiered lawns, but they’ve been shelved due to a lack of funding. The Chavis Park plan calls for preserving original elements from the park’s history as one of the only recreation facilities open to blacks in the south. The upgrades would also include a new swimming pool, playground equipment and a multi-story community center with more amenties than the park currently offers.

The project list also features less-costly upgrades to four aging neighborhood community centers: Brentwood, Apollo Heights, Kiwanis and Eastgate. Those renovations would total $3.9 million.

“We have a very aging system,” parks director Diane Sauer said. “The average age of a center is 34 years old. The average age of a swimming pool in Raleigh is 26 years old.”

The list targets $5 million for improving the Walnut Creek Athletic Complex, $1 million for a new playground at Laurel Hill park that’s accessible for children with disabilities, $8 million to fix up swimming pools, $6 million for a new Pullen Art Center and $10 million to buy vacant land for future parks.

Studies determined that more parks facilities are needed in fast-growing Northwest Raleigh, so $12 million is slated for a new community center at Baileywick Park.

Outside of the possible bond projects, the plan provides guiding principles for the parks system’s future. “We want a much more holistic measure of how we’re doing,” said Dave Barth, a consultant who worked on the plan.

Campbell: 919-829-4802; Twitter: @RaleighReporter

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