Granite Quarry discusses $4.37 million parks plan draft
Published 12:05 am Wednesday, February 16, 2022
GRANITE QUARRY — The future of Granite Quarry’s park spaces was on the table on Monday.
The Granite Quarry Board of Alderman received a presentation about the town’s new parks master plan during its regular meeting and discussed next steps for the draft document. All told, implementing all capital improvements in the draft would carry an estimated cost of $4.37 million.
Jon Wood, landscape architect for planning and design firm Benesch, gave the board an overview and recommendations based on the contents of 75-page document, which contained some strategies for paying for improvements.
Some recommended projects were expanding Centennial Park across Bank and East Lyerly streets, installing a community splash pad and adding outdoor fitness opportunities in parks.
Wood also advised the town should make the parks more inclusive and accessible by upgrading playgrounds with equipment and surfaces for all ability levels. He said the town should conduct an Americans with Disabilities Act assessment at each park as well as connect them to other parts of the town.
Trail connectivity was another part of the plan. Other municipalities are building and connecting trail systems, and Wood told the Granite Quarry board it should look to connect to regional trail systems, though the town likely would need to acquire land to develop for trails. He also recommended more sidewalks and bicycle lanes.
Wood noted the town does not have a parks and recreation department at this point.
“I don’t think that’s necessarily a focus at this point, to create another department, but there could be a focus to create a parks and recreation advisory board,” Wood said.
The plan also includes specific recommendations for each of the town’s parks. In Centennial Park, the plan advises paving pathways because they will be easier to maintain and erode less, upgrading picnic amenities by replacing the gazebo with a shelter and tables as well as adding paved “picnic pads” along paths.
The town has basketball and tennis courts at Granite Civic Park, and the plan recommends making some changes to those as well, including repurposing some of the space for tennis and basketball for pickleball and replacing the volleyball court with an outdoor fitness area. Wood noted pickleball is increasingly popular with all age groups.
At Granite Lake Park, the plan recommends studying the north section of the park for expansion, including adding the splash pad, a dog park and more shelters.
Wood told the board it should also replace metal light poles with concrete so they will last longer, particularly in the lake park area.
Alderman Kim Cress asked if grants are readily available at the moment. Wood said the most popular option — one that provides millions of dollars for parks every year — is the Parks and Recreation Trust Fund. Other grants are available through the state, including the North Carolina Trail Program and private grantors such as the Carolina Thread Trail.
Alderman Doug Shelton said the plan seemed like a lot for a town of Granite Quarry’s size to accomplish in 10 years.
“What we’re trying to do is give you a menu to choose from,” Wood said.
Shelton said the town will need to take a deep dive into the material during its annual planning retreat. Mayor Brittany Barnhardt asked Wood to return to speak to the board during the retreat.
The plan will come up for final approval at the board’s March meeting.