11/12/06 — Residents get closer look at Stoney Creek Park plan

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Residents get closer look at Stoney Creek Park plan

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on November 12, 2006 2:01 AM

Nearly 50 residents showed up at the Herman Park Center Thursday evening to meet with Stoney Creek Park Alliance board members.

Some came for an update on plans to revamp the flood-prone park.

Others wanted to offer their thanks to project planners.

And a few came to discuss issues that had little relationship to the park's master plan.

Board members D.J. Coles, Dr. Peter Roethling and Donnie Barnes walked those in the audience through the history of the project -- from the initial idea in 2000 to improve the appearance of the greenspace off Ash Street to the unveiling of the Stoney Creek Park Master Plan at a public event earlier this year.

"Our community is in the process of funding a community project that will provide our families -- and our families' families -- with a memorable place," Coles said. "A place where we can come together naturally."

Barnes took it from there.

"We are here tonight to continue to do what we have tried to do over the past two years -- keep the public involved," he said. "Primarily, what I want to do is take you through the process."

The concept of a new Stoney Creek Park was originally mentioned years ago, but the idea quickly fell to the wayside, Barnes said.

"The first talk of turning this property into a greenway park goes back to 2000," he said. "For lots of reasons, it never really got jump-started. It got put away."

Until a few years later when a group of residents approached newly hired City Manager Joe Huffman with a similar idea.

"Fortunately for all of us, they found a proponent of this idea," he said. "And as everybody knows, the city owns a lot of this property. So, without the city on board, this idea wasn't going anywhere."

Several weeks later, a committee was in the making and casual discussion led to serious planning.

"What we came to realize was that we had a lot of really great ideas, but we didn't know how many of them would work," Barnes said. "We needed some outside help."

They hired a firm, Kimley-Horn and Associates, to develop a plan based on those ideas. More than a dozen meetings and a public forum later, the consulting firm and committee presented a master plan to the public -- one that includes a six-acre lake, trails and garden areas.

Then, this summer, Goldsboro City Council members approved the formation of the Stoney Creek Park Alliance, a group that when partnered with the Wayne Charitable Partnership became eligible for tax-deductible donations.

Once the history of the project was explained, Roethling described the group's latest idea -- inviting members of the community to join the alliance, to take ownership in the park.

"We want this to be your park," he said. "We invite you to help in any way you can."

After Roethling described the subcommittees recently formed to promote community involvement -- outreach, development and fundraising, programs, planning and design and volunteers -- the floor was turned over to those in audiences.

Only a few spoke out.

Victoria Jordan said she has concerns about flooding. She said the stream restoration project, which aims to put the meander back in Stoney Creek, might do more damage than good.

"I would like to see this discussed in the plan," she said.

But Recreation and Parks director Neil Bartlett and other alliance members said that project had little to do with a revamped Stoney Creek Park, with the exception of some flooding concerns that might stem from it.

"The experts tell us that project is not going to increase flooding," Huffman said.

"We don't know if this project will make the flooding problem any better," Barnes added. "The experts say it will. But what we do know is that it won't make things any worse."

And even if it did, Barnes said nothing could prevent flood events in the area. So why not try to make it more attractive during the majority of days when no water is on the ground, he asked.

Roger Casey and members of his family also attended the meeting. They said the project has a great deal of supporters, even if they chosoe not to take the microphone.

"At every meeting, you have one or two who have to disagree with everything," he said. "Most of the people here support the project. We might be quiet about it, but we think it's going to be beautiful. We want it."