09/22/13 — Park marks milestone

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Park marks milestone

By Matt Caulder
Published in News on September 22, 2013 1:50 AM

Five years after the creation of the Goldsboro Parks and Recreation master plan, construction at Stoney Creek Park is wrapping up, with an official ceremony Thursday and a set of sand volleyball courts slated to go in next week.

The ribbon cutting was held underneath one of the two new shelters, one designed for picnics, and the other built to house a bathroom. The guests of honor were those who got the ball rolling in the first place -- the donors who gave their land, time, effort and money to bring about the six-year redesign of the park."You're essentially looking at the finished product here," Parks and Recreation Director Scott Barnard said. "With the addition of a sand volleyball court, we should be pretty much done. We have space up here for another shelter if someone comes behind us and wants one."

Bob Waller, a member of the Stoney Creek Park Alliance, which spearheaded the improvements to the park, and a former Goldsboro city councilman, presented the plaques recognizing the donation of the properties to grow the park from the original four acres to more than 50 acres today.

The majority of the land for the park was acquired through a combination of Federal Emergency Management Agency hurricane buyout properties from hurricanes Fran and Floyd and through donations and below-value sales from community members.

The floodplain properties were acquired through the Stafford Act.

Since that time, the city has put nearly $230,000 into Stoney Creek Park for various amenities and construction, but Barnard said the money associated with creating a park are eclipsed by the upkeep costs, which fall on the city.

"You have this park that you are managing upkeep on forever essentially," he said.

The city received a $132,000 North Carolina State Parks, Parks and Recreation Trust Fund grant in the 2011-12 fiscal year.

The grant, spearheaded by the Stoney Creek Park Alliance, came with a 50 percent match. The city has more than surpassed its portion.

The alliance's first grant application was refused in 2008, but came with advice about how the alliance could improve its future chances for success -- namely by creating a master plan.

"That's one of the main things. It's like, 'What's your name? Where are you from and do you have a master plan?'" Barnard said.

After the master plan study was completed, the alliance started placing amenities like a dog park and frisbee golf course in Stoney Creek Park.

The philosophy for the park originally was for the area to be a passive space with very few amenities because of the flooding concerns in the area. But the vision for the park shifted after the alliance received the granting agency's advice, Barnard said.

"Some amenities work better in some parks over others though, and I think they thought they all had to go in (Stoney Creek Park)," Barnard said.

The plan included an amphitheater with amplified sound at one point, but the idea was scrapped as time wore on.

"When you drive by it, it's open and the amenities are on the high ground," Barnard said. "An amphitheater would have been completely contrary to what they wanted. It would have stuck out like a sore thumb."

Another idea that was tossed was a man-made lake complete with a fountain.

So, it was back to the basics.

The city incurred extra costs on the shelter project after a change order was made to relocate a shelter planned for the low side of the park to Berkeley Park, and the picnic shelter was moved behind a stand of Leyland cypress trees.

The change order cost the city more than $20,000, as well as the full cost of the $30,000 shelter that was moved to Berkeley Park.

The picnic shelter was moved from the PARTF approved location to the east side of Stoney Creek Park at the Jan. 22 Goldsboro City Council meeting.

The shelter was moved back to its current location after a letter was sent to city officials from the grating agency expressing their concern about the change in location, which put the shelter in the floodway.

The Stafford Act allows municipalities to buy properties in floodplains and floodways -- just like those that surround Stoney Creek, allowing landowners to relocate out of the floodway.

"I have had (the park) described to me as feral before work really began," Barnard said.

The city is now focusing on making the park look like, well, a park, the parks and recreation director said.

"We came in here and tore up a bunch of pavement and made the cul-de-sac, and then over where Durant Street used run through, we planted trees in a very specific way to look random so in a few years that lane won't be there," Barnard said. "We want to make this park look like it isn't a re-use. We are proud that it is a re-use, but we're working to make it look like we always planned it as a park."