Horseshoe Farm Park to stay natural, council decides

Staff WriterJanuary 9, 2008 

— Horseshoe Farm Park is for the birds, deer and other creatures who live there and the people who want to see them.

The City Council on Tuesday unanimously voted to name Horseshoe Farm Park a special nature park and approved a master plan that limits development on the site in northeast Raleigh off Ligon Mill Road.

"We finally got what the public wanted," said Marcia Deans, who has been active in the debate over the park.

The vote Tuesday ends a years-long debate over whether the park's 146 acres should become home to a 24,000-square-foot community center and outdoor basketball courts.

In 2006, a city committee that drafted a master plan for the park recommended that Horseshoe Farm become a nature and arts center with a river launch, trails and an education center, along with restrooms and picnic areas.

The city's parks, recreation and greenway advisory board endorsed that plan but added a recreation center to the project.

That addition sparked anger from many who had lobbied to limit development at Horseshoe Farm Park, citing its beauty and ecosystem.

In May, the council approved a barebones plan for the park without a recreation center. It also agreed to build the center on 15 acres next to Durant Nature Park nearby. Still, some said the council's decision wasn't clear about what could happen at Horseshoe Farm.

Newly elected council member Rodger Koopman, who campaigned this fall to keep Horseshoe Farm Park natural and represents northeast Raleigh, has led a new effort to limit development at Horseshoe Farm.

The council agreed Tuesday with Koopman's suggestions, along with the recommendation that it become a natural resource-based recreation and education park appropriate for nature watching, hiking and other passive recreation.

Koopman said he'd like for the park to become a showcase for environmental stewardship. He said it's the right decision to protect the land in a rapidly growing area so people can enjoy a natural setting decades from now. Property owners nearby will reap the rewards, he said, with higher property values because of their proximity to the resource.

IN OTHER ACTION: The council voted to install a single-lane roundabout at the intersection of Morgan and Hillsborough streets.

(Staff writer David Bracken contributed to this report.)

sarah.lindenfeld@newsobserver.com or (919) 829-8983

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