PITTSBORO — Town representatives and Chatham Park Investors have dedicated Pittsboro’s newest park, concluding more than a year of development and launching the first major …
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PITTSBORO — Town representatives and Chatham Park Investors have dedicated Pittsboro’s newest park, concluding more than a year of development and launching the first major outdoor feature of several to come as construction progresses on the 7,000-acre Chatham Park housing community.
About 50 attended the grand opening of Knight Farm Community Park on May 27, including Pittsboro Mayor James Nass and Commissioners Kyle Shipp, Michael Fiocco and Jay Farrell. The 10-acre park, located at 362 Vine Parkway near the Chatham Park Info Center, features traditional playhouse equipment, a dragon-shaped climbing gym and a natural playground where kids can play on “live-edge tree trunk balance beams and slide through a rock garden,” according to a Chatham Park press release.
“The creation of the first park in Chatham Park is an investment in the town that will benefit future generations for years to come,” Chuck Smith, vice president of planning for Preston Development, told the News + Record. “Recreation and open space amenities that can be used by all to gather, play and exercise provides a much-needed community focal point.”
Other park amenities include a measured walking trail around its perimeter, a large multi-use field, a splash pad and a dog park. A covered pavilion houses public restrooms and several picnic tables. Unused space remains available within the park for upgrades and future developments as Pittsboro grows and expands.
Preston Development Company, which is developing Chatham Park, funded the $3 million project and donated the park to the Town of Pittsboro. Instead of a traditional ribbon-cutting, Chatham Park representatives and Mayor Nass flicked a 6-foot switch activating the colorful water fountain splash pad.
“We thank very much Chatham Park and Preston Development for the work that went into this park,” Nass said at the event. “We are glad to take it over as a town park now and add that to our parks and recreation inventory.”
Pittsboro does not have a parks and recreation department as some municipalities do. Last month, the board of commissioners authorized the town’s budding Boys & Girls Club to oversee recreational programs while Pittsboro works on developing a dedicated staff. To that end, Town Manager Chris Kennedy recently hired a parks planner, Katy Keller, who will help facilitate the town’s aspirational parks program, according to the commissioners.
Knight Farm Community Park is named after the original family on whose land the park is built. Tony and Eliza Knight, Black farmers born before the Civil War, acquired and developed more than 100 acres in what is now the Vineyard Park community.
After their deaths, the Knights’ house and land was sold at auction to cover debts. In 1924, their son, Fred, repurchased the property for $762.50. The home he built is included in the book, “The Architectural History of Chatham County NC,” published in 1991. Fred Knight was described in the book as “a farmer and sawmiller of apparent substance.” His grandson, George Michael Knight, still lives in Pittsboro on Firetower Road, adjacent to Vineyard Park.
Knight Farm Community Park is open daily from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. during summer. It is part of 2,000 acres within Chatham Park, which the community’s developers have dedicated for outdoor spaces, and the first of five parks to be constructed in Vineyard Park. Future amenities will include more than 30 miles of walking, biking and multimodal trails; access to the Haw River and Jordan Lake; an amphitheater for live music and entertainment; shops, dining, art galleries and more.
“We are enjoying every celebration, every milestone of Chatham Park as we watch this community grow into our vision,” Vanessa Jenkins, executive vice president of Preston Development Company, told the News + Record. “We are very excited to be a part of Knight Farm Community Park and the town of Pittsboro.”
Reporter D. Lars Dolder can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter @dldolder.