Parks director takes hands-on approach

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 18, 2011

By Shavonne Potts
LANDIS — Andrew Morgan is a one-man crew, and as the town’s new parks director, he’s literally cleaning house.
Morgan, 26, a native of China Grove, has been on the job for about two weeks and has been cleaning trails and picking up trash in the Lake Corriher area. He’s working to get the area in tip-top shape as the town and the South Rowan branch of the YMCA collaborate on developing the Lake Corriher wilderness area.
Morgan has a parks and recreation degree from UNC-Wilmington, where he took coastal management and environmental classes. He and his wife, Hannah, and their 3-month-old son, Maverick, live in China Grove.
He interned at the Salisbury Country Club and worked at Warrior Golf course, both working with landscaping.
“He’s doing a tremendous job,” said Landis Town Manager Reed Linn.
Linn said several years ago the town took a stance of incorporating more greenways, mini parks and open spaces throughout the town.
“He has a strong background in landscaping and landscape design. He’s very capable of overseeing our parks, which include the new passive park and the wilderness park,” he said.
The town began its search for a new parks director in January. Former Director Julie Noblitt left in August.
The town received 16 applicants that were narrowed down to six.
“We had six very good applicants. All six did a tremendous job,” Linn said.
Three of those six applicants were called back for second interviews.
“He was very energetic,” Linn said of Morgan. “We believe he’s going to bring a lot to the table. He has strong connections to the YMCA.”
The town felt Morgan’s connection with the Y was a positive “since the town and Y will be working closely together on the Lake Corriher wilderness area,” Linn said.
Much of Morgan’s time will be spent on work at Lake Corriher and Lake Wright as well as the town’s parks.
The Southern Rowan Sports League, which is managed by volunteers, handles the softball league. The league buys and provides all necessary equipment, secures team sponsors and establishes league schedules — duties that used to be handled by the recreation director.
In April, the town opted to have an outside company manage and maintain its pool, which is now handled by Charlotte Swim Club Management Inc. in Huntersville. The pool was an area that used to be handled by the recreation director.
In addition to allowing people to fish at Lake Corriher, the town also talked in August about clearing an area near Lake Wright for a walking trail, which would connect to the J. Fred Corriher Y.
All of the parks and greenways are a part of the town’s Parks and Recreation master plan, which was unveiled at a July 2010 meeting.
Morgan has set goals for the parks department, and he’s already begun accomplishing some of them.
Morgan’s short-term goals are to fix the Pavilion, “to make it usable,” he said.
He also hopes to get the park up and running. The town is waiting to find out if it’s been approved for a grant it applied for that would help develop the park.
The park was the idea of the late D.C. Linn and his family. The family wanted the town to have the 2-acre lot, which sits at North Central Avenue near the Landis Police Department.
The property is currently in a trust with the Foundation for the Carolinas.
He’s been cleaning almost daily at Lake Corriher.
“We have some safety issues with hanging trees,” he said.
Once complete, people can fish, camp, bike and walk trails at the Lake Corriher area.
The lake/wilderness area is a “real nice area for South Rowan,” Morgan said.
Morgan also came up with an idea that he hopes would draw interest to Lake Corriher.
The idea, which is in its early stages, is a fishing challenge where participants will have an opportunity to catch tagged fish for prizes. Morgan hopes the idea will coincide with the South Rowan YMCA Adventure Run in September. Morgan still has to develop this idea more, he told the board at meeting earlier this month.
“Lake Corriher is an area with a lot of potential,” he said.
Eventually, Morgan hopes there will be picnic shelters, a boardwalk and a central bathhouse.
Morgan said the only other wilderness area that offers a variety of outdoor activities in this area that is comparable to what the future Lake Corriher wilderness area will be is Dan Nicholas Park and Uwharrie National Forest.
“It’s a way for people to get that feel within a short drive and for some, walking distance,” he said.
Many of these upcoming events will help fund future endeavors and projects for the wilderness area, Morgan said.
Once activities get underway at the lake, there may be a need to hire a part-time person, but for now Morgan will maintain the area.
Other community activities Morgan will spearhead are the Spring Fling on April 23 at Corriher Field, and the Fall Festival.
He’s also working on securing grants for many projects, including those that involve the lake.
“No cost or low cost, that’s where more people are headed,” he said.
He hopes to get volunteers to clean the trails and other areas near the lake. Morgan has planned several volunteer days.
“We are going to need all the help we can get,” Morgan said.
Anyone who wants to volunteer for the clean up days can contact Morgan at 704-857-4114.
Contact reporter Shavonne Potts at 704-797-4253.