Published: Oct 09, 2012 06:00 PM
Modified: Oct 06, 2012 03:57 PM
HOLLY SPRINGS - Government plans for a major recreation push are getting more detailed. The town is making legal preparations for a proposed summer-league baseball stadium on 45 acres in a largely residential area of northwestern Holly Springs, according to public records, though staff say the town is exploring its options still.
The town envisions a “very walkable, pedestrian friendly environment,” tentatively called the North Main Street Athletic Complex, that could squeeze between North Main Street and the N.C. 55 Bypass, according to a development petition town staff recently posted.
Town leaders first officially heard about the project this March, when Pete Bock of the Coastal Plain League officially proposed that Holly Springs build a 2,500-seat stadium for collegiate summer games. The town also outlined the project a few months earlier, when it told voters that its bond referendum would fund a $2 million park with baseball and softball fields, a playground, tennis courts and ten acres of fields.
The town hasn’t committed to anything that detailed, but it did put $84,000 toward preliminary planning in August.
Staff and elected officials ay they’re exploring the options, and that they’re unsure whether the project site is even usable. Wake County currently owns the land, which is just west of the intersection of Anchor Creek Way and North Main Street. Portions of the land are worth roughly $50,000 an acre, according to tax records; so far, no sale is confirmed.
The project, however, is moving forward on several fronts. Town staff have requested a rezoning of the project land. Staff also have outlined general plans in a “development petition” and requested a change to town zoning laws to accommodate the park.
Those changes are coming on quickly, likely because the town and Coastal Plain League have talked about finishing a project by 2014.
The Holly Springs Town Council was expected to consider the ordinance change on Oct. 2. And the rezoning, which would permanently flip the land from “local business” to “community business,” was originally scheduled for a hearing this week, until staff delayed the request.
“We’ve just decided to pull back because the town has not purchased that property yet,” said planner Laura Holloman.Filling the void
In its plans, the town pitches the project as its next big thing.
“This athletic complex will fill a tremendous void that (Holly Springs) residents have felt for many years,” town staff wrote in early development plans.
The area is, the town says, fairly lacking in amenities. The project’s slated for Main Street, but it’s still two miles from downtown proper.
The 45-acre site is bounded to the south by a self-storage business and the Oak Hall neighborhood and to the east by apartments, the Windcrest neighborhood and the Arbor Creek neighborhood. West of the proposed project are a proposed highway, hundreds of vacant county-owned acres, and a network of landfill and recycling facilities.
If approved, the project could press close to its roads; the town has requested a waiver of road setback rules for the athletic park. But the town’s development plans also promise substantial buffers for neighboring residences.
So far, the neighborhoods near the site have been slow to make public comment. The Oak Hall neighborhood has been circulating polls and gathering opinions, according to Ray Riordan, a Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee member and resident of Oak Hall.
“We’ve certainly had some questions, but we haven't come up with a singular response,” he said. “Personally, I’m excited about it. I think it has the possibility of being something of benefit to our neighborhood.”
The town will notify near-by residents before the Holly Springs Town Council takes up the rezoning and special-use hearing that will allow the project to proceed.
In the meantime, Riordan said, “we can get more feedback from the neighborhood, to make sure we're addressing all of the concerns, because I know folks are going to have some.”