Plan calls for adding to parks and greenway by 2020
By Mark Wineka
A developing update of Salisbury Parks and Recreation’s Master Plan calls for the addition of six neighborhood parks by 2020.
The plan also sets goals of expanding Kelsey Scott Park, providing a full gymnasium and outdoor pool at the Civic Center, adding 5 to 6 miles of greenway, installing as many mini parks as possible, setting up an environmental education and skills center at Salisbury Community Park and developing Lincoln Park.
Parks and Recreation Director Gail Elder White said something that’s showing up in this update that wasn’t even mentioned in the original 2000 Master Plan is a demand for dog parks and skate parks.
As part of rewriting the Master Plan, the department and its consultant, Woolpert of Charlotte, conducted a “needs assessment” that included public meetings, focus groups and a survey filled out by 111 people.
Some of the things Salisbury citizens said they wanted included skate parks, dog parks, more disc golf courses and pools.
Citizens also cited the need for expanded greenways and trails; more gymnasium and recreation center space; more neighborhood parks; a Civic Center expansion; programming at the Salisbury Community Park; pedestrian, bicycle and bus connections to Salisbury Community Park; and a downtown green space.
Project Manager Andrew Pack and Park Planner Carl Armanini, both of Woolpert, went over recommendations for the Master Plan at a meeting recently at the Civic Center. They will present their final recommendations to Salisbury City Council Aug. 4.
Salisbury grew in population by 17 percent between 2000 and 2007, from 26,462 to 31,023 people.
Woolpert estimates that the city’s population will likely be 40,626 by 2020.
In the survey that received 111 responses, 63.9 percent said they thought it was “very important” to fund parks and recreation improvements over the next 10 years.
“That’s higher than normal,” Armanini said.
Tops on the list of things the respondents said were needed in existing Salisbury parks were walking, biking and jogging trails; renovated playgrounds; more open space; continued greenway expansion; more picnic areas; and renovated courts and athletic fields.
Respondents said new parks should include multi-purpose trails, accessible playgrounds, an environmental education center at Salisbury Community Park, an extreme sports park, a dog park, outdoor pools and an outdoor amphitheater.
Armanini said Salisbury’s parks and recreation emphasis over the next 10 years should be on developing neighborhood parks, mini parks and special facilities.
Neighborhood parks should include locations east of Interstate 85 and areas around Old Mocksville Road, McCoy Road, Statesville Boulevard, Sherrills Ford Road and the Rowan County Airport, according to Woolpert recommendations.
White said finding land and space on the east side of I-85 is a challenge.
North, east, south
Other areas were heard from as well.
“We are just dying to have some smaller pocket parks,” said Sue McHugh, president of the Old North Salisbury Association.
She said the city has told her the neighborhood of 400-plus homes is too close to City Park to warrant another park.
The North Main Street area is a major corridor for pedestrians, cyclists and transit, yet there’s not one bench or trash can “or anything for the public to use,” McHugh said.
East Bank Street resident Clyde Overcash told the consultants at a Thursday night meeting that residents on the east and south sides of Salisbury have no parks.
“It’s very one-sided in Salisbury right now,” Overcash said. “… We can’t walk to the Community Park from the south side.”
Overcash pushed for a state-of-the-art, indoor pool at the Civic Center and soccer fields and trails at Town Creek Park. He said citizens also have been waiting for 10 years to have a sign at the Civic Center saying what events are taking place there.
Overcash complained that the Civic Center building is neglected while money is pumped into the west side of town.
Lincoln Park plans
In Overcash’s area, the plan will recommend that the Civic Center be expanded and become more of a recreational center, including an outdoor pool and new gymnasium.
The new swimming pool would lead to a transformation of Lincoln Park in which splash pads would replace the 40-plus-year-old pool. Lincoln Park also would add basketball half-courts, shelters, an arcade and concessions, open space and a gazebo.
Town Creek Park next to the Civic Center could include a skate park and three-on-three basketball courts, according to the plan.
The draft plan says as many “mini-park facilities” ó such as Magnolia Park next to the Rowan County Administration Building ó should be installed as possible.
In the downtown, where they would serve as infill, all they might require are some trees, a piece of public art or a water feature and some benches, the consultants said.
Kelsey Scott Park
Kelsey Scott Park could be expanded by adding the 30-acre material handling site across Old Wilkesboro Road. The old landfill is being phased out as the place where the city’s yard debris is taken.
William Peoples asked whether the Master Plan addresses public transit access to the 300-acre-plus Salisbury Community Park. Armanini said without programming or a department “house” on the site, it’s difficult for the city to justify transit service.
“What it’s waiting for is programming,” Armanini said.
Peoples said park land should never have been purchased and developed outside the city limits. All it does now is serve the “privileged” who can afford to play soccer and baseball, he added.
Armanini reiterated that manned programming probably will help it be a better park.
McHugh said she didn’t hear any mention in Thursday’s presentation about festivals or tying events into a new amphitheater.
Peoples said City Park would make a good site for an amphitheater.