PITTSBORO — Chatham Park’s developers are in talks with Chatham County Schools to create a space where all county children, regardless of disabilities, can participate in physical and recreational activities.
Preston Development has approached CCS administrative staff a with sketches for proposed soccer fields and a Miracle League field — a baseball diamond designed for all children, including those with physical disabilities, to play with their peers — according to Vanessa Jenkins, executive vice president at Preston Development.
“We brought an idea to them (CCS) and proposed to build a Miracle League field and three soccer fields on that property that fronts (N.C. Hwy.) 15-501, for its proximity for the community to enjoy,” Jenkins said.
The fields would be located on CCS property in front of Northwood High School, adjacent to a formerly wooded area that has been cleared for Lowes Foods and Zaxby’s. Jenkins stressed, though, that the development isn’t specifically for Chatham Park — it would be a product of a proposed partnership between Chatham County Parks & Recreation, Chatham Park and CCS for school-aged children across the county to use.
“We would be bringing in other interested parties like the county, possibly the town [of Pittsboro] and people like that to have a public/private partnership for everybody to participate in building these facilities,” she said.
The fields are currently in the designing stage and have yet to be approved by any county, municipal or school administrative body, according to Jenkins; talks between Chatham Park and CCS’s administration are underway, she said.
Jenkins acknowledged there have been complaints about the clearing of the site and claims that the wooded area was part of Northwood’s property, but emphasized it will ultimately be available for use by schools and the community.
“We just wanted to make sure the board knew what the administrative staff was discussing with us, and to make sure that the board either said, ‘No, stop, we’re not interested,’ or ‘Yes, go forward and bring us back a full blown proposal,’” she said. “That kind of spiraled into (people saying) ‘Oh, they’re taking over and cutting down trees.’”
Nancy Wykle, the school system’s public information officer, confirmed no trees had been cut down on the property belonging to CCS. The only trees that have been felled are near the Northwood sign, which is next to the land where a Lowes Foods grocery store and Zaxby’s restaurant will be built.
“We’re still in the process of working with them to figure out the fields,” Wykle said. “It’s probably premature to say it’s an absolute ‘yes’ or ‘no.’”
CCS owns the property in front of Northwood between Northwood School Road and Charger Boulevard, which is why Chatham Park developers approached the administrative staff with plans. Jenkins plans to approach county staff about the project once CCS signs off with its approval.
“The only thing we have are just sketches of how and what could potentially fit on the property,” Jenkins said. “This is a good thing for the community.”
Reporter Taylor Heeden can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @HeedenTaylor.
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