Work on Morrisville park with cricket field to start soon

aramos@newsobserver.comAugust 30, 2013 

A rendering of the 25-acre park -- informally called the RTP Park -- at the corner of McCrimmon Parkway and Church Street in Morrisville.

TOWN OF MORRISVILLE — TOWN OF MORRISVILLE

— Cricket players, toddlers and nature lovers will have something to look forward to in the fall of 2014: the completion of the so-called RTP Park.

Last week, the Morrisville Town Council unanimously agreed to hire Racanelli Construction South, which has an office in Cary, to build the park. Construction is set to cost $3.2 million; the total cost of the park is $5.2 million.

Once finished, the still-unnamed 25-acre park at the corner of McCrimmon Parkway and Church Street will feature a regulation-size cricket field, playgrounds, tennis courts and a walking trail.

The project has been in the works for about a decade. In 2004, voters approved a $4 million bond referendum for the park; and in 2007 the town bought the property, including a tract from Research Triangle Park.

“I look forward to this park moving forward,” said Councilman Steve Rao. “Morrisville is becoming known as the cricket capital of U.S., and (I) would like to see that continue.”

The cricket field, which has been in high demand with the rise of the sport in the Triangle, will also double as a multi-purpose field.

“I too am ready for a groundbreaking for RTP Park,” said Mayor Jackie Holcombe. “I’m ready to think of a new name.”

Site work could begin in about 60 days, said Parks and Recreation Director Jerry Allen.

Holcombe asked town staff to put together a timeline for RTP Park and other parks that are in the works, such as new Cedar Fork Park ballfields and Northwest Park.

“I’d like to set a realistic expectation (for the public),” Holcombe said.

The town had to set aside about $650,000 more than expected for the RTP Park project. The additional money will come out of the parks and greenways capital fund and not the Northwest Park or Cedar Fork accounts, as was previously planned.

Town leaders had considered temporarily taking money from those other projects, but council members Michael Schlink, Mark Stohlman and Rao opposed the idea.

The issue sparked debate among the council members last month.

Since the town is using money from its greenways fund, it may have to dip into its general fund to complete the south section of the Shiloh Greenway. That will depend on whether grant money is reimbursed before the greenway contracts are executed, Allen said.

Councilman Steve Diehl said he didn’t understand why money had to be moved around to accommodate Northwest Park. Design work on that project is still months away.

“What I am unhappy about is we arbitrarily reallocated funds for other projects,” Diehl said. “Nothing will be done for six to eight months. We need to borrow funds for Shiloh greenway while funds sit idle now (in those) accounts.”

Councilman Mark Stohlman said he was pleased with the compromise.

“I’m glad we ended up where we did,” Stohlman said.

Ramos: 919-460-2609

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