Residents weigh in on Joyner Park ahead of bond referendum

sbarr@newsobserver.comJuly 5, 2014 

Wake Forest residents have completed a survey about their vision for the future use of E. Carroll Joyner Park, seen here in a reader-submitted photo taken in 2011.

COURTESY OF JEFF KELLER

— As they consider plans for the next phase of E. Carroll Joyner Park, town officials will weigh how to preserve the tranquility prized by resident while adding new facilities.

More than 500 residents weighed in with their preferences for the 117-acre park in a recent survey and at forums hosted by the town.

The results come as the town prepares for a $25 million bond referendum this fall that would include parks funding. The potential parks projects include the new phase of Joyner as well as the North Wake Senior Center expansion.

The town’s master plan for the park has always anticipated changes that would make use of the remaining 33 acres of the land, including a possible community center, playground and athletic fields.

Ruben Wall, the town’s parks and recreation director, said the changes will not affect any of the park’s existing amenities – including the sense of peace and quiet. But they are needed because of the town’s fast population growth.

In the Joyner survey, only a small portion of residents said they would like to see the park remain the same, without any additions.

But the residents who are looking for changes expressed interest in a range of new amenities or improvements, with varying degrees of enthusiasm, said Jeff Sank, chair of the town’s recreation advisory board, when he presented the survey findings to the Board of Commissioners last week.

Sank said one key to building support for items, such as a community center, is to make sure residents know that the facilities can be built in a way that blends into the existing park, both physically and thematically.

“It’s important for them to know we have a lot of options,” he said.

In the survey, 60 percent of residents had no opinion or supported a new community center. Of the surveys respondents, 91 percent supported or were neutral about greenways, 76 percent supported or were neutral about a playground, and 51 supported or were neutral about athletic facilities.

The respondents self-selected for the survey, so it is not necessarily a scientific sample of the town, but it does provide at least a snapshot of what residents think.

Bond Referendum

For the bond referendum, residents will vote separately on whether to fund three project areas: streets and sidewalks for $6.3 million, parks and recreation facilities for $14.2 million and greenways for $4.6 million.

If voters approve all of the bond referendum areas, property tax increases could increase by up to two cents, though town officials have said they intend to stagger the projects to minimize the effect on residents.

The public can weigh in on the upcoming bond referendum at a July 15 public hearing during the Board of Commissioner’s monthly meeting at 7 p.m.

Officials also have prepared a website with information about the bond: wakeforestnc.gov/2014-bond-referendum.aspx

Barr: 919-836-4952; Twitter: @barrmsarah

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