Pittsboro’s parks preparing for growth

Posted 4/18/19

PITTSBORO — The Pittsboro Board of Commissioners have approved a document that will guide over $500 million of investment from the town and developers over the next 30 years with the goal of …

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Pittsboro’s parks preparing for growth

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Posted

PITTSBORO — The Pittsboro Board of Commissioners have approved a document that will guide over $500 million of investment from the town and developers over the next 30 years with the goal of ensuring that every Pittsboro resident has access to parks, facilities, and open spaces.

Pittsboro has eight parks or facilities including the Robeson Creek Greenway and the Community House. With the town expected to grow from 4,500 residents to more than 60,000 over the next 30 years, the plan ­— called the Pittsboro Parks and Recreation Master Plan — sought to “grow (Pittsboro) from a small, quaint town” to a municipality “without sacrificing the charm, values, assets, and character that residents hold so dear,” the executive summary for the plan states.

The three goals of the plan are:

• to provide a decision-making basis for meeting current and future parks and recreation needs

• to create a plan for an integrated realm which includes parks, trails, streets, and civic places

• to provide context for the vision statement in the town’s land use plan which places an emphasis on walkability, bikability, open spaces, and parks

In a two-hour presentation to the board of commissioners last month, Pittsboro’s Parks and Recreation Director Paul Horne outlined the planning process, residents’ top priorities, the long range vision, and an implementation strategy for the plan which will guide parks and recreation for the next 25-plus years. Commissioners approved the plan by a 3-2 vote.

The department first completed an existing system analysis, exploring not just parks and recreation, but the community. The assessment looked at each of the current park facilities, the priorities of the residents, and the vision plans of other communities. The plan states that “the Town of Pittsboro has a tremendous opportunity to create a world-class public realm that meets the needs of both existing and future residents; protects natural resources; creates an interconnected network of parks, trails, open spaces, blueways, and greenways; generates multiple economic, social, and ecological benefits; and helps accomplish the vision statement in the Town’s Land Use Plan.”

The report also notes the importance of “strengthening land development regulations to make sure that new developments, such as Chatham Park, provide adequate parks, trails, and protected open space to meet residents’ needs.”

The report also noted that a survey found that three recreation amenities were most in need at parks — walking and biking trails, sidewalks with street trees and benches, and restrooms at existing parks. In terms of events or programming the residents want to see the most, community events, adult fitness and wellness programs, and water fitness programs topped the list.

When provided a list of actions that residents would support for improving the park system, the top four most supported included acquiring land for preservation, further developing existing parks and recreation facilities, developing new greenways trails and enhancing connectivity, and acquiring land to support a regional trail along the Haw River. The survey also found that 70 percent of respondents said they would be willing to pay more taxes to fund these actions. Respondents also noted the importance of having parks and open spaces within walking or biking distance from their homes.

The long-term vision for the master plan focused on six main elements — bicycle/pedestrian connectivity, new parks and improvements to existing parks, aquatics facility/recreation center with pool and walking track, athletic fields, natural areas, and downtown parks/cultural arts. The long-range plan includes maps for small neighborhood parks and larger non-local parks, working to ensure that all parts of the town have equal access to recreation areas. The plan also outlines the potential costs for implementation of its long-range vision of more than $500 million, noting that not all of the costs for the plan would be covered by the town. For example, implementation of the Chatham Park parks and recreation system is estimated to cost between $100 and $200 million alone, according to the plan.

In order to begin implementation of the Parks and Recreation Master Plan, the first step would be to hire one or two additional parks and recreation staff in the near future. The town currently only employs one full-time employee, which is Horne. The document notes that the initial staff priorities would include the development of the funding plan, strategic plan, updated subdivision regulations, and partnerships. Additional short-term action plans include beginning the development of a 25-year, phased funding plan, hire a consultant to develop sidewalks, bikeways, and a trails plan, develop and implement plans for existing parks, begin to plan a future recreation and aquatics center, and begin to identify and acquire sites for local parks within the town’s limits.

Pittsboro’s Parks

• Mary Hayes Barber Holmes Park: 304 Old Rock Springs Cemetery Rd.

• Rock Ridge Park: 1397 Old Sanford Rd.

• Kiwanis Park: 309 Credle St.

• Town Lake Park: 529 NC Hwy 902

• Roberson Creek Greenway: Entrance near 266 Sanford Rd.

• Page Vernon Park: 110 Hillsboro St.

• McClenahan Street Park: 64 McClenahan St.

• Community House: 65 Thompson St.

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