Letters: Chatham Park’s public park story needs clarification

Liz Cullington, Pittsboro
Posted 7/10/20

To the editor:

Last week’s story “Town approves first public park built by Chatham Park” (July 2-8 edition) needs some clarifications.

The article describes this as “the first of seven …

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Letters: Chatham Park’s public park story needs clarification

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Posted

To the editor:

Last week’s story “Town approves first public park built by Chatham Park” (July 2-8 edition) needs some clarifications.

The article describes this as “the first of seven public parks [Chatham Park] will build before handing them over to the Town of Pittsboro,” and later says “As part of the agreement the developer has with the town, the company is to construct seven parks at approved locations spending a minimum of $500,000 each.”

Chatham Park’s Master Plan and Elements requires them to provide the land for seven approximately 10-acre public (town) parks, and to propose master plans for the first two, but not to actually “build” any town parks, let alone all seven, and couldn’t for $500,000 each, especially decades from now.

Chatham Park previously agreed to pay $500,000 towards each of those seven parks, capped at $3.5 million total, so if they spend more than the minimum on one park that means less in future. Now, Chatham Park Investors suddenly claim that spending an extra $1.5 million on this first park (and we don’t have the final cost yet) won’t affect that minimal funding per park in future.

We don’t know yet if this is just marketing cost, or if the developers will want to claim “excess park spending” as on offset against other types of required park land acreage, or as fee waivers under which the town indirectly, and gradually absorbs the extra park cost.

The town couldn’t afford the rest of the cost for this first park this early, rather than by the time it would be officially required, three years after the 1,500th housing unit in Chatham Park, around 2027. Chatham Park has stated in writing that the accelerated timeline for construction is in order to have the park open in time for this year’s Parade of Homes, to attract homebuyers, which as some Pittsboro Town Board members stated, is not the town’s job.

Chatham Park’s estimate for annual operation and maintenance was $150,000 not $100,000, a 50% increase in the town’s budget of previous years for all town parks.

Chatham Park’s added future revenues will have to cover all increased town costs, and the town can ill afford a 50% increase in one department’s budget, whether a year from now or two, without knowing what the budget impacts of these new developments will be overall.

Comments

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George N Welker

This article seems to suggest the target of 3.5 million is referred to as a cap. These type of projects typically make projections of target goal, and rarely provide a measured cap on expenditures. I for one am all for a private organization donating a wealth of land and parks that would not be available otherwise. Can you site your sources regarding your Cap statement?

Friday, July 10
Liz Cullington

This letter could have had more detail and citations if not for (a) the word limit and (b) the fact that the general reading public may not be familiar with the terms for all the moving pieces regarding Chatham Park.

The park land acreage requirements for Chatham Park, whether public or private areas, are the same as they are for all developers in Pittsboro, no more. The difference is that Chatham Park was asked, and agreed, to provide some funding for 7 mid-sized Town Parks (also two larger ones). The language about that funding is in the "Public Facilities Element" for Chatham Park, which is a pretty binding document, on .26

https://pittsboronc.gov/vertical/sites/%7B512CE168-4684-4855-9CD9-7D209FE775E3%7D/uploads/Public_Facilities_11-26-18_clean-up.pdf

"As agreed upon by CPI and the Town, more than $500,000 may be spent by CPI for improvements to any one (1) or more of the seven (7) Park Service Planning Area S

ites. However, the total expenditure by CPI for all seven (7) Park Service Planning Area Sites will not be required to exceed $3,500,000."

Friday, July 10

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