Cary News

March 19, 2014

Plans for Northwest Park in Morrisville move forward

The Morrisville Town Council will decide Tuesday whether to approve design plans for Northwest Park, which include a walking loop, two playgrounds, fitness station and open play area.

Progress toward making the long-awaited Northwest Park a reality is inching along.

The Morrisville-based Mullis Design Group completed its conceptual design for the 5-acre park off Parkside Valley Drive.

Plans include two playgrounds, a 0.2-mile walking trail, fitness station, picnic shelter, restrooms and public play area. The only difference between two plan options is the orientation of the buildings, playgrounds and retention pond.

The Morrisville Town Council is expected to decide Tuesday to approve one of the design options or to hold off on the project at this time.

If all of the park features are added, the project could cost between $886,000 and $903,000 over four phases. Only about half of the site is buildable.

The most expensive part of the park would be phase one, which includes a parking lot, site grading, restrooms and picnic shelter for $650,000 to $665,000.

The playgrounds, walking trail, fitness station and three disc golf baskets would be added in the next two stages. One playground would be for young children ages 2 to 5. The other playground would be for children ages 5 to 12.

The last phase calls for a $44,000 rainwater cistern and irrigation system.

Northwest Park garnered the council’s attention last year after more than 700 residents signed a petition asking for Morrisville to move forward on building the park.

The site has been vacant since about 2007, and plans dragged on due to financing and stalled construction on Louis Stephens Road.

About 25 percent of Morrisville’s population lives on the north side of town, where there isn’t a park within walking distance.

Council members seemed to approve of the design.

“This is more than what they are asking for or thought they could get,” Councilman Michael Schlink said of residents. He lives in the area and has pushed hard to get the park completed.

The original design from about seven years ago called for an open field, parking lot and restrooms. Years passed between the original plan and the petition, so the council decided to spend up to $100,000 for an update and met again with residents to come up with the design.

Councilman TJ Cawley said he was concerned about the future cost of building Louis Stephens Road. That project could bring the total cost to $1.8 million.

But waiting to build the park might be more expensive as materials and construction costs will continue to rise, said Parks and Recreation Director Jerry Allen.

There is about $300,000 in the town’s parks and greenway fund, said Ed Lynch, Morrisville’s parks and greenways planner. Over the next month, the town expects to add about $700,000 in parkland funding and about $400,000 in grant funding reimbursements.

None of the new money is allocated to a specific project, so it could be used for Northwest Park.

“Things are looking good,” Lynch said.

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