MORRISVILLE — It’s been a long time coming, but the dirt is finally flying at the future 25-acre park on Church Street.
Officially, construction on the $5.2million park is set to start this week, but elected officials, town staff and parks and recreation advisory board members got the ball rolling Thursday with a groundbreaking ceremony.
It will take about a year for workers to put in walking trails, a playground and tennis courts. One of the most anticipated features of the park is a regulation-size cricket pitch – a first for the Triangle.
The Triangle Cricket League has been clamoring for more field space to host tournaments and games as the sport has gained popularity over the past decade.
“This will be the cricket capital of the Southeastern United States very soon,” Morrisville Town Councilman Steve Rao said.
Other sports will also benefit from the new park. The cricket pitch will double as a multipurpose field.
While it has plenty of anticipation, what the park doesn’t have yet is a name. For now, town leaders call it RTP Park in homage to Research Triangle Park, which sold a tract of land for the park to the town.
At the beginning of the year, the town will ask the public to submit name suggestions online, said Jerry Allen, director of parks and recreation in Morrisville. The town’s parks advisory board will consider the options and make a recommendation to the Town Council, which will have the final vote, Allen said.
The project has been in the works for about a decade. In 2004, voters approved $4million in bonds for the park.
“I want to thank the public for their patience over the last 10 years,” said Councilwoman Liz Johnson. “I think all good things come at the right time. I’m looking forward to this park, and I’m looking forward to naming this new park, too.”
Councilman Michael Schlink said the park will offer more than cricket.
“I think we shouldn’t forget about the tennis players here in Morrisville,” Schlink said. “They will have the opportunity to play here.”
Morrisville hasn’t had a new park since 2009, when the town opened the Indian Creek Greenway and Trailhead park. Adding another recreation area will unite the community, said Mayor Jackie Holcombe.
Every year, Morrisville picks a theme and plans events and programs around it. This year’s theme was “community.”
“It’s hard to imagine anything that strengthens a community more than a brand new park,” Holcombe said. “I think it will bring a number of different representatives of the community together, for tennis, cricket, with playgrounds, the walking trail – just for picnicking.
“This will be a centrally located opportunity for all of us.”
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