Morrisville OKs funds for Northwest Park design

aramos@newsobserver.comJuly 24, 2013 

— Residents who have lobbied for the town to build Northwest Park are finally getting some good news.

The Morrisville Town Council voted Tuesday to spend up to $100,000 for the design of the long-awaited park, which could include a playground, an open field and parking.

But it’s still not clear when the park will become a reality.

“I don’t want anybody to misunderstand and think that there will be a groundbreaking in the next few weeks,” Mayor Jackie Holcombe said. “This is just that we will go ahead and design the park.”

The town is still waiting for a new round of construction bids to come in for RTP Park. There should be about $100,000 available from that project to shift to the design of Northwest Park, said Parks and Recreation Director Jerry Allen.

But Councilman Steve Diehl said he wasn’t thrilled about spending the money before the council knows for sure how much RTP Park will cost. He said it was “fiscally irresponsible.”

“What’s the rush?” Diehl asked. “We’re raising expectations we can’t fulfill. ... I just think we’re throwing $100,000 on a site plan that will never be used.”

Diehl also said the town should get more input from residents about which parks projects matter most to them.

“With such limited funds, does this park project give us the greatest value for our citizens?” he asked. “There are a number of projects on the wait list.”

Morrisville is also looking for ways to pay for two new ballfields at Cedar Fork District Park and a park near Weston Estates.

But other council members said it was time to act on Northwest Park. About 700 residents signed a petition in November asking the town to move forward with the park, which has been on hold since 2007 due to funding and road-improvement issues.

Developers of the Breckenridge community, where the park would be located, gave the town about five acres and about $1 million in parks fees. However, the money was used to pay for other parks projects, like Morrisville Community Park.

About 25 percent of the town’s population lives on the north side of town and doesn’t have a park within walking distance.

The Northwest Park property along Parkside Valley Drive became an eyesore and a dumping ground as it sat vacant. Since residents signed the petition, the town has mowed the grass and worked to maintain the site.

“I don’t think we are rushing into anything,” said Councilwoman Margaret Broadwell. “I think it’s well overdue.”

Councilman Michael Schlink has been one of the most outspoken proponents of Northwest Park. He pushed staff to consider all the options.

“I’m glad to see this go forward,” Schlink said.

If the park is built, it will likely be in phases.

“The citizens in this community have waited a long time for this,” said Councilman Steve Rao. “Also, anyone in Morrisville can use this park. It’s not just for one neighborhood.”

Ramos: 919-460-2609

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