County gets ample interest in parks master plan work

Published 12:05 am Friday, October 30, 2015

When Rowan County commissioners pick a firm to oversee a parks master plan, they’ll have a bounty of choices.

Seven total firms responded to a request for qualifications to oversee the county’s parks master plan. Most are from Charlotte. Hickory, Raleigh and Colorado are also represented in the firms.

The master plan is designed to study whether current park facilities are adequate. Rowan’s last master plan wrapped up in 1996 and expired in 2010. Basketball, football and youth ballfields were among the areas where Rowan’s various parks facilities exceeded recommendations. Camping sites and public pools were areas where Rowan fell short of the recommended number.

No specific cost projections are associated with the master plan yet. County Manager Aaron Church will draft a contract with a firm after commissioners make their selection, which isn’t scheduled to occur until at least the regularly scheduled Nov. 16 meeting.

In submissions, companies touted previous projects completed in Rowan or adjacent counties. In its submission, Charlotte-based firm Benesch mentioned previous project experience in Kannapolis. Charlotte-based firm Stewart cited its work drafting the Carolina Thread Trail’s master plan for Rowan County.

McGill Associates is likely also familiar to commissioners. The Hickory-based firm is the likely choice for Rowan County’s water and sewer system work. Former Rowan County Manager Bill Cowan also works for the firm.

All firms included a varied degree of community participation as part of the parks master plan. Community meetings were all mentioned as possibilities.

Stewart, for example, proposed pop-up meetings where community events were already taking place. McGill Associates said community meetings for specific projects don’t usually attract large crowds and recommended workshops centered around other events.

Charlotte-based firm Land Design proposed creating a master plan committee that would involve local stakeholders.

Raleigh-based firm AECOM proposed a teen and youth workshop as part of community engagement.

Charlotte-based firm McAdams mentioned one-on-one meetings as a possibility.

Several of the groups specifically mentioned creating a website to gather public comments.

Despite the large, local North Carolina representation among the interested firms, many list out-of-state sub-contractors as part of the team that will be involved. Similarly, Colorado-based Greenplay LLC listed sub-contractors in North Carolina in its submission.

Work on a master plan is scheduled to start in November. Work is scheduled to continue into spring 2016, with a final master plan being presented to county commissioners for approval in April.

In multiple submissions, schedules show public comments being solicited in winter months.

Although it’s a separate project, county officials are also in the midst of starting a sports complex feasibility study, which was at least partially prompted by Rowan County Little League’s softball world series victory.

The feasibility study for a sports complex would mostly look at price of construction. A sports complex would include a consolidated area of various sports fields, according to Church. Rowan County’s feasibility study for a sports complex is expected to involve less community involvement than the parks master plan.

Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246.