Morrisville OKs design for Northwest Park

aramos@newsobserver.comMarch 27, 2014 

— The Town Council has given its approval for a conceptual design of Northwest Park, which residents have hoped to see for years.

On Tuesday, the council approved design plans for the 2.5-acre park in the Breckenridge neighborhood off Parkside Valley Drive.

Plans include a 0.2-mile walking trail, fitness station, two playgrounds and a picnic area. The council chose a design option that calls for a water-retention area near a parking lot that could serve as an educational site for children.

Next, Morrisville-based consultant Mullis Design Group will come up with construction-level drawings.

But the question of how to pay for the park remains unclear. Early estimates show the project could cost about $900,000 to build over four phases.

“I’m concerned about funding,” said Councilwoman Liz Johnson. “We don’t have all the funding in hand. ... I don’t want to give the public false expectations.”

Ideally, Councilman Steve Rao said, the town would be responsible with public money while also providing more recreational spaces for residents to be active.

Rao said he worried it would cost more to wait to build the park.

“One option if we went with (a) phased approach would be the possibility of costs being more,” Rao said. “Although we don’t have the money in hand right now, we will. We can agree to something. We can move it forward and complete this.”

Northwest Park has been in the works since 2007, when the developer of the Breckenridge subdivision donated the 5-acre property. Only about 2.5 acres are useable for parkland. The site has some grading issues and will require significant leveling.

About 700 residents petitioned the town last year to get the project completed.

The northwestern part of Morrisville doesn’t have a park, and Northwest Park would provide a nearby recreation option to about 20 percent of the town’s residents.

Town staff members expect there will be enough money coming from park fee-in lieu funds to pay for Northwest Park. Developers pay a fee if they choose not to build a park in a subdivision, or if they build a smaller-than-expected park.

Town manager Martha Wheelock will prepare a report on the fee-in-lieu account.

Meanwhile, construction designs should be completed within the next few months.

Ramos: 919-460-2609; Twitter: @AlianaCaryNews

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