09/15/13 — Goldsboro's plan for parks turning into reality

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Goldsboro's plan for parks turning into reality

By Matt Caulder
Published in News on September 15, 2013 1:50 AM

Since the Goldsboro Parks and Recreation Comprehensive Plan Update came out in 2012, city Parks and Recreation employees have been busy with a number of projects.

The plan was originally created in 2008 as part of a grant application for Stoney Creek Park and has since been made more comprehensive, Parks and Recreation Director Scott Barnard said.

"There was a lot more public input here," he said.

The 2012 update was done through Recreation Resources Services at North Carolina State University.

"RRS did a really good job for us," Barnard said. "If they had generic feedback they delved into it. If someone said they wanted walking they asked, 'What kind of walking?,' they could mean greenways or dog walking or indoor tracks and they asked those questions."

The master plan update is broken down into maintenance, management, improvements to existing facilities and new facilities recommended.

For improvements to existing park facilities the top projects wanted from public comment were, increased lighting in the parks, more drinking fountains, renovations to restrooms, more picnic shelters, better signs around city parks, improved landscaping with more trees, improvement to city playgrounds, improve handicapped accessibility in parks and the creation of a new access to Quail Park from U.S. 70.

City engineers are surveying the land at Berkeley and Herman parks to begin work this winter piping the ditches running through the park to flatten the land removing the need to have bridges over them greatly improving accessibility around the parks.

"Herman Park will be like night and day," Barnard said. "We kind of got to this point where the bridges were starting to go and we could either spend some money replacing the bridges for a while or pipe it and be done with it."

Work has also begun on changing out lighting in Herman Park and having the tennis courts re-done for the upcoming U.S. Tennis Association tournament this fall as well as improving lighting in other city parks.

Of new facilities recommended in the plan one of the most wanted projects were lighted soccer fields and additional sand volleyball courts.

In the next week two sand volleyball courts will be installed at Berkeley and Stoney Creek parks and construction will begin on sidewalks at Herman Park.

The sidewalks will connect the parking lot to the tennis courts and then onto the restrooms as well as connecting the playground to the parking lot.

Sidewalks will also go in at North End Park.

Improvements to the playgrounds at North End Park and Fairview Park are also wrapping up to make the playgrounds better and improve accessibility to the park.

"We're already having trouble keeping the kids off the equipment while the concrete sets, it's a good problem to have," Barnard said.

Other new facilities wanted include spraygrounds, additional disc golf courses such as that going in at Berkeley Park, additional walking trails, a skateboard park which the equipment has been purchased for from Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, additional baseball/softball fields, an additional recreation center, an amphitheater and a greenway along Stoney Creek, which is under way and slated for pavement in the coming months.

A grant coming to the city through the state Department of Environmental and Natural Resources will fund the paving of the greenway at Stoney Creek North which stretched from Royall Avenue to Ash Street and then from Ash Street nearly to Elm Street.

"If we can make the money stretch a little bit we might be able to make it all the way to Elm," Barnard said.

Another section will also be paved from New Hope Road where the current greenway ends and will wrap around behind Wayne Community College and Wayne Memorial Hospital.

"We are just waiting on the check for that project," Barnard said.

A feature of great interest to a number of the responders was additional river access points and water features or small lakes throughout the city parks.

"People want to see water, they want to fish in it and they generally want to walk around water," said Barnard.

Barnard said that master plans when done have two to three years of life before they need to be revisited to make sure that they are still viable for the community.

"Communities change and the plans need to change with them," said Barnard.

A large part of the update was driven by public input from a larger sample size than the 2008 plan but also with the professional experience of where the requested facilities would work.

"A master plan is a road map, it's not the only way to get there," said Barnard. "It's not handcuffs."

Also in the master plan are cost estimates for improvements needed to each of the 12 city parks.

The cost estimates are gathered through adding the average cost for projects in surrounding communities like Goldsboro.

Those communities include Tarboro, Rocky Mount and Greenville.

In the update, plans were included for a new W.A. Foster Recreation Center budgeting $2 million for a new center but the cost is estimated at around $6 million now including changes derived through requests through public input for the center.

Other changes include the site planning for Mina Weil Park to go along with the construction of the new W.A. Foster at the park.

Many of the projects listed in the parks line up with the listed wants including lighting and more shelters and improved courts whether it be basketball, tennis or sand volleyball.

Most of the improvements were between $100,000 and $200,000 with Quail Park only at $87,500 and improvement to H.V. Brown Park at $370,000 including bathroom and shelter replacements totaling $100,0000 each.

Improvements at Quail Park were modest including improved playground accessibility, basketball court relocation and some tree trimming.

The master plan also called for a sports complex and additional recreation center in the area of Wayne Memorial Drive that was expected to cost around $5.7 million.

Also recommended were new parks around Patetown Road and in the area of New Hope Road and Berkeley Boulevard.