Morrisville’s Northwest Park – more than 15 years in the making – will officially open Saturday with a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
The grand opening has been delayed by heavy rains this summer that complicated some of the park’s landscaping work, but that delay is much less than the years between the park’s proposal and its completion.
The park was first suggested about 15 years ago and sits on 5 acres set aside by the developers of Morrisville’s Breckenridge neighborhood. The town acquired the land in 2005, but didn’t take immediate action toward developing it.
Mayor Mark Stohlman credits Councilman Michael Schlink, a Breckenridge resident who was not yet on the council, for bringing Northwest Park’s status to the town’s attention. Breckenridge is one of the town’s largest population centers, and its dense layout didn’t include much space for recreation, Stohlman said.
“That donation of land was reflected in the prices of (Breckenridge’s) houses, all 1,100 homes there or so,” Stohlman said. “They had all contributed, but finishing the park didn’t seem it was like a high priority for the town. It had fallen off the radar.”
The project was further complicated by cost overruns, which were due partly to the heavier-than-expected grading needed to flatten the park’s open space, said Jerry Allen, Morrisville’s director of parks, recreation and cultural resources.
The budget suffered from an increase in construction costs across the board between 2010, when cost estimates were first made, and 2015, when the project was put out to bid, Allen said. Despite cutting back on amenities, such as fitness stations and a disc golf course, the $650,000 project became a $1.3 million project over those five years.
When the town broke ground for the park last July, it was expected to open by early 2016. Record rainfall throughout 2015 kept pushing that date back, though. As recently as June, a ribbon-cutting was scheduled for July 16, but that was postponed out of fears that the recently planted grass wouldn’t survive a large crowd. Shortly after that, an unusual amount of rain washed away much of the seeded grass.
Though compact, the park is notable for its stormwater management features, rentable picnic shelters, a walking loop and a playground Stohlman described as “unbelievable.” The playground has an open area for toddlers as well as areas for 2- to 5-year-olds and 5- to 12-year-olds.
Gargan: 919-4609-2604; @hgargan
Want to go?
The ribbon cutting for Northwest Park is Oct. 1, at 10 a.m. at 998 Parkside Valley Drive.