Wake County’s ambitious plan to preserve open space slowed considerably during the recession, but county commissioners will soon consider a plan to restart it with about $4 million in purchases.
Beginning in the early the 2000s, the county bought more than $60 million worth in land to use for recreation, to preserve natural environment and to join cities in building the popular greenway system. At a Monday work session, Frank Cope, the county’s community services director, and Chris Snow, of Parks and Recreation, said they are actively pursuing the county’s most suitable tracts instead of waiting until they are made available.
“We should be out there looking for the very best parcels,” Snow said.
The county and its Open Space and Parks Advisory Committee have been ranking properties on their size, relation to water quality, effect on biodiversity and their location in relation to other land in the program. Monday, they got a thumbs-up from commissioners to explore buying six tracts in the open space program and two more to assist greenway projects in Morrisville and Knightdale.
The open space proposal got some close questioning from Commissioner Tony Gurley.
“What is the purpose of our open space?” Gurley asked.
The plan has a number of different goals, Snow said, including promoting recreation, wildlife habitat and community health and welfare.
And, Cope added: “Once that open space is developed, that opportunity is gone for good.”
Having gained approval, Cope and Evans will explore the parcels further for potential downsides, conduct surveys and appraisals, negotiate with owners and forge agreements with cities on the greenway projects. This fall, they’ll present a detailed plan to commissioners.
Mostly located in Eastern Wake County, three of the parcels are in the environmentally sensitive Marks Creek area, two are near Little Creek and one is near Buffalo Creek.