China Grove officials like site for park

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

By Jessie Burchette
Salisbury Post
CHINA GROVE ó A proposed new park in the south end of town drew praise last week, but aldermen want to take a close look before giving the green light.
Under the proposal, the town would convert in phases a 9-acre parcel off U.S. 29 between First Street and Second Avenue into a park.
Jimmie Higgins, chairman of the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, gave the board an outline of plans for the first phase at the western end near Walnut Street.
For the first phase, crews would create a park area with playground equipment, a parking area and a walking trail.
Higgins said the Rowan Cooperative Extension Service and the N.C. Forest Service are interested in helping with the walking trail, which would run along a stream and woods.
Higgins said there is sufficient money available in the current budget to get started.
Higgins also committed to holding fundraisers and seeking private money if necessary to do the project. “We’ll ask for money,” Higgins said.
In future years, additional phases could be added to take up much of the land.
“We’re asking to get the ball rolling,” Higgins said.
Alderman Allen Welter agreed the parcel is a good location for a park, citing the increase in housing in the immediate area.
Mayor Don Bringle agreed but wanted to know cost figures. He also questioned potential environmental issues. A portion of the property was the site of a sewer lift station for many years.
Bringle also noted the town has considered using the front part on U.S. 29 as the possible site for a new fire department.
Bringle said aldermen should visit the site, take a close look and discuss it at the May meeting.
In other business at last week’s meeting, aldermen:
– Voted once again to delay creating a parking lot near the Little League Field on a parcel the town bought two years ago to provide parking.
David Ketner, public works director, recommended a contractor who submitted a price of $24,400 to grade, compact and gravel the lot suitable for parking.
Town staff had included a budget amendment in the agenda packet to transfer $25,000 from the town’s fund balance to pay for the project.
According to the town’s audit, China Grove had $1.2 million in unreserved fund balance as of June 30, 2007, and a total general fund balance of $1.8 million.
Welter said fixing the hole in the fire department floor was a greater need. He also suggested that a possible street resurfacing project could yield enough ground asphalt to fix the parking lot.
“Fixing the parking lot should be the last thing on the agenda,” said Welter.
Alderman Ron Overcash said the parking lot needs much work, pointing out the town has owned it for two years and done nothing. He added that the site now looks like the town dump.
“It’s ridiculous to keep tabling it. This needs to be done,” Overcash said. “The parking situation now forces children and adults to walk across the railroad tracks.”
“We don’t have the money,” Welter responded.
Bringle agreed with Welter, suggesting the project be delayed.
The board voted 4-1 to approve Welter’s motion to table the issue.
Overcash cast the dissenting vote and challenged the aldermen to “come and see where you can park 500 cars.”

Contact Jessie Burchette at 704-797-4254 or jburchette@