Pittsboro Parks Board urges support for town park growth

Posted 12/6/19

PITTSBORO — The Pittsboro Parks and Recreation Advisory Board (PARAB) urged the Pittsboro town board on Nov. 25 to fill the town’s park planner position left vacant with the resignation of …

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Pittsboro Parks Board urges support for town park growth

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PITTSBORO — The Pittsboro Parks and Recreation Advisory Board (PARAB) urged the Pittsboro town board on Nov. 25 to fill the town’s park planner position left vacant with the resignation of Pittsboro Parks Planner Paul Horne and to support the continued efforts to build new and improve current parks.

PARAB Chairman Stephanie Bass and member Noah Becker conducted a presentation to the town board at its most recent regular meeting providing updates on the town’s park system and recommending the town seek a new Park Planner rather than leave the responsibilities split between the planning and public utilities departments. Pittsboro Town Manager Bryan Gruesbeck announced Horne’s departure last month. At the time, Gruesbeck noted to the board that the division of duties while the position was being assessed.

Bass opened the presentation by noting the park’s departments two major projects, an expansion of Kiwanis Park on Credle Street in Pittsboro and the creation of a new park, the Louis Freeman Historic Park, which will be located near Salisbury and Rectory drives, were both in the development stage with “a lot of pieces in motion.” Bass said the board didn’t want to “lose momentum” on the projects and that the “public is going to expect” a certain amount of progress as well as “needs for improvements in existing parks.”

“We encourage you to move quickly and aggressively with park system development,” Bass said. “We believe Pittsboro needs a full-time parks planner.”

Bass noted that the two departments, planning and public utilities, “couldn’t possibly keep up with what’s going on and what’s coming.” Bass noted that the park system was hoping to apply for a $250,000 PARTF grant for the park projects and with a March deadline, the process required someone who could put full focus and attention to the application. Becker also urged the board to consider hiring a parks programmer position to manage recreation programs.

Becker then proceeded to provide an update to the board about the various projects underway in the town’s park system. The Louis Freeman Historic Park, named for the freed slave who purchased his wife out of slavery and later owned land in the town of Pittsboro, is envisioned to be both a walking park and an exploration of Freeman’s history and the land.

Grimsley Hobbs of Hobbs Architects donated additional land for the project to allow for a second entrance on Salisbury Street. Hobbs also spoke during the public comment period in support of the park. A bamboo “thicket” is slated to be thinned with play structures installed that will mimic and complement the natural surroundings. The plans include a stone walk, board walk and wooden arbor.

Becker also provided an update on the renovation and expansion of Kiwanis Park, noting the board had conducted multiple events to receive public input on the project. Initial plans include additional entrances and a path to provide “flow through” from adjacent neighborhoods. The board is also hoping to install bathrooms at the park.

Other projects Becker noted were improvements and enhancements to the Community House to encourage more use. In addition, Becker noted that the tennis courts at the McClenahan Street park were in bad shape, with many of the facilities lights “going out.” Becker noted that there may be USTA grants available for that project, but again would require a dedicated person to apply for them.

Town Lake Park was in “good shape,” but there is a small leak on the lower dam that will need to be repaired. In addition, hurricanes in 2018 did significant damage to the Roberson Creek Greenway. Becker said he believed the town had been awarded $26,000 in FEMA funds to repair the damaged greenway which will need to include grading and replacement of path materials which had all washed away.

The board, while praising the different parks in town and appreciating the planning improvements, was non-committal on PARAB’s recommendations. This may have been because it was the last board meeting of outgoing Mayor Cindy Perry and town commissioner Bett Wilson Foley. The board’s next meeting will take place on Dec. 9.

Reporter Casey Mann can be reached at CaseyMann@Chathamnr.com.

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