08/20/08 — Questioning the park plan

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Questioning the park plan

By Anessa Myers
Published in News on August 20, 2008 1:51 PM

About a dozen city residents got a chance to ask questions about the proposed Stoney Creek Park at a forum sponsored by the Stoney Creek Alliance Tuesday night at the W.A. Foster Recreation Center.

SCP Forum

News-Argus/Greg Sousa

Stoney Creek Park Alliance Chairman Dr. Peter Roethling addresses the concerns of residents over the proposed development of the park during a public forum Tuesday at the W.A. Foster Recreation Center.

Some asked about the potential for flooding in the low-lying park, others about the amenities the park should offer residents.

Another forum will be held tonight at 7 p.m. in the large conference room at City Hall Addition.

Mary Rhoe asked about flooding.

"Yes, part of the area does flood, but not with every sprinkle," said Dr. Peter Roethling, alliance chairman.

The front of the park, by Ash Street, is a wetlands area, he added, and it is a place where water will always exist. But other parts of the park only flood when there is a significant downpour.

Also, he said, the alliance does not plan to put permanent structures in the flood areas.

William Battle said he was also concerned about flooding, but added that the park could be an asset to the city.

"People are not gainful of the park because of the flooding. But if you put something out there that people enjoy, they'll stay out there forever," he said.

Roethling agreed, and said the alliance is working toward putting in a dog park, a disc golf course, picnic tables, gardens and trails for the first phase of the park.

Victoria Jordan said she was for the park, but she wasn't for "the park as it is now."

She said she supports the disc golf but believes it should be expanded from the proposed nine-hole course to an 18-hole course.

"Disc golf is a moneymaker. This is an explosive time for the sport," she said

She, too, was concerned about flooding.

"I just wonder how much flood insurance homeowners who live by the park are going to need," she said.

The alliance had supporters at the forum as well, like Downtown Goldsboro Development Corp. Director Julie Thompson.

"I think it's great that the alliance is turning Stoney Creek Park into an asset for the city. It's an added way to recruit investors to the city," she said.

Alliance members defended their plans for the park, acknowledging the concerns over flooding, but pointing out that engineers have been hired to create a park that can handle high water at times and provide a valuable green space in the middle of the city during most of the year.

"We are doing the best we can. We are not engineers who know what to do with some of these things. That's why we hire people who know how to. We are just trying to do something nice for the community," Sissy Lee-Elmore said.

Councilman and alliance member Bob Waller said the park is much better off than it was several years ago.

"Ten years ago, you should have seen the park," he said. "We cleaned it up, all the drug dealers, all the crap. Now kids are down there playing. There are people walking their dogs."

Waller urged residents to get behind plans to upgrade the city's parks. If not Stoney Creek, then another park, he said.

"If you don't want to help Stoney Creek Park, then help Herman Park or another park," Waller said.

Prior to the public comment period, Roethling gave a presentation of the alliance's vision for the park and its first phase of development.

Residents have to decide what level of quality they want in their city, he said. A social and progressive community wants a park where people can join together. An isolated and declining community doesn't.

Stoney Creek Park, Roethling said, is centrally located and has beautiful natural surroundings, but some people can't get past the stigma that it is all prone to flooding.

"They've seen water and wetlands, and they aren't able to get around that," he said. "The park floods very infrequently, and we don't plan to put anything in the flood plain."

But the park won't be possible without community support, Roethling emphasized.

"I have seen what this community can do. Look at Relay for Life. Goldsboro is one of the best places for the community working together. We can't rely on the city to do this. That's been the goal all along, to make this a community project, not a government project."