Parks & Rec bond projects picked

kjahner@newsobserver.comJune 3, 2014 

— Rather than spread it out, Garner plans to spend its Parks and Recreation bond money in one fell swoop, and hopes to start work within the year.

A committee put together a list of projects to be funded by $1 million in bond money, and that list, along with proposed locations for two new dog parks, was presented to council Tuesday.

Over the past few months, the committee met with various residents and interested parties to determine the biggest needs for Garner’s parks facilities and used that feedback to lay out a plan.

In order of priority, the slated projects include: replacement of restroom and concession areas at both Garner Recreation Park ($250,000) and South Garner Park ($260,000), dugout covers for all town baseball and softball fields ($107,500), a new mobile stage for the town ($490,000) and the two dog parks ($200,000). The remaining $92,500 will go toward various other amenities, including fencing near the soccer field at South garner Park and repair or addition of various signs.

Initially the money for this smaller aspect of the bond project had been spread out among bond issuances over a period of years. Instead most of the projects will be built simultaneously. That would yield economy of scale benefits. Savings would result from a reduction in the number of projects that need to be bid.

“I’m of the opinion, let’s just do a million dollars. One contractor can do them,” councilman Gra Singleton said.

The committee, which included representation from Council, staff and residents, selected two sites for the two dog parks, which would be the town’s first. Council instructed staff to proceed with the develoment of plans for one park at Garner Recreation Park on Garner Road. That park would occupy about 0.6 acres to the right of the driveway into the park.

Right idea, wrong place

But the reception grew tepid regarding the proposed use of two acres in the open meadow in front of the treeline facing Buffaloe Road at White Deer Park. Singleton objected, calling the the “serene” open field “cherished.” He said the “yipping and yapping” of a dog park would be a poor fit. In addition he said open space should be a closely guarded asset.

“I do not support that one single bit,” Singleton said. “That meadow is treasured. We’re not going to have another park like this unless someone donates a huge chunk of land to us.”

Staff will reconsider other alternatives as others agreed with Singleton. Parks and Recreation Director Sonya Shaw acknowledge that the process remained somewhat early and that there was room for adjustment. Singleton suggested an area back near the playground at Lake Benson Park among a few other ideas.

Despite the reported popularity of new dog parks, the top priorities concerned aging concessions and restroom buildings at South Garner and Garner Recreation Park. Rust, mold, chipped-away paint, and dilapidated signage among other issues have been cited as reasons to fully replace them.

In addition dugout covers have been described by a concerned parent at a budget meeting as “embarrassing” given that most fields the teams visit have covered dugouts.

The town stage would replace an existing 24-foot-by-12-foot stage used for various performances, often outdoors. The new stage would nearly double the available space for performers with a planned 24-by-20-feet unit. The stage could be moved by hitching it to a truck..

Shaw has previously listed $15 million in improvements she thought necessary or helpful to the town.

Jahner: 919-829-4822; Twitter: @garnercleveland

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