Cary seeks feedback on downtown park plans

aspecht@newsobserver.comMay 6, 2014 

  • If you go

    Cary will host a public workshop where residents can learn about plans for a downtown park and upgrades to downtown streets from 5-7:30 p.m. Monday, May 12, at the Herb Young Community Center, 101 Wilkinson Ave.

— The town is ready to show residents its tentative plans for a much-talked-about downtown park.

Cary plans to spend about $5.2 million on a town square at the corner of Academy Street and Dry Avenue, across from the Cary Arts Center.

The town has also budgeted $8 million to improve the road and sidewalks on Academy Street.

Renderings will be on display during a public workshop from 5-7:30 p.m. Monday, May 12, at the Herb Young Community Center.

Planners hope residents will attend the meeting to get a better understanding of the projects and Cary’s vision for downtown.

Planning consultants will be on hand to answer questions, and forms will be available for residents to provide feedback.

“We certainly would like the input,” said Doug McRainey, the town’s parks and recreation director.

Most of the money for the park project will come from a bond issue approved by voters in 2012.

On Academy Street, the town plans to narrow the road and widen the sidewalks as part of “streetscape improvements.”

The town will install new benches, street lights and new trees.

Many of the crepe myrtles lining the street are in poor shape and won’t survive the road construction, said Kyle Hubert, a Cary project engineer.

The town is asking residents for help in choosing three of nine tree species Cary is considering as replacements to the crepe myrtles, he said.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the project, Hubert said, is the plan to install benches carved out of granite in the shape of musical instruments.

“They’re pretty intricate,” he said. “We’ll be able to provide a pretty good amount of detail of what they’ll look like.”

The town square, meanwhile, will be anchored by a large fountain that’s surrounded by grassy space, seating walls and a plaza with bistro tables.

It will also have a lower plaza, where Cary plans to install a portable stage for performances.

Finding the right fountain has been an arduous process.

The Cary Town Council has held several special meetings about picking a fountain since rejecting the first fountain designed by artist Larry Kirkland in January.

His fountain included a colorful column topped with a 6-foot wind vein in the shape of a heron. The council said it was too bright and too contemporary.

Construction on Academy Street is expected to start next spring and take a year to complete. Crews will close one side of the street at a time, and traffic will be detoured.

Specht: 919-460-2608; Twitter: @AndySpecht

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