Eastern Wake News

June 13, 2014

County wants feedback on open spaces in Wendell

County officials will be visiting Wendell and Knightdale to get input about plans to develop a hiking trail, canoeing area and space for horseback riding next week.

County officials will be visiting Wendell and Knightdale to get input about plans to begin using some of the land acquired as part of the county’s Open Spaces initiative.

The county wants to turn three locations near Wendell into protected spaces for activities. Turnipseed Nature Preserve would become space for a hiking trail, Robertson’s Mill Pond Preserve would be a location for canoeing and Procter Farm Preserve would be land set aside for horseback riding.

They will be the first of the county’s open space parcels to be opened to the public.

Wake County parks and recreation officials will visit Wendell on June 23 from 5-7 p.m. and Knightdale on June 24 at the same time to present plans, receive feedback and answer any questions.

Both meetings will be at each towns’ respective town halls.

“We’re not inviting the citizens to a blank pice of paper and saying draw what you want,” said Wake County Parks Director Chris Snow. “We would like to know what the neighbors think.”

Snow said the locations were chosen to be first for more than just practical reasons.

The county had completed the purchase of all three parcels, he said, but they also showcased lesser-known areas of the county.

“We looked for parcels that were unique and different,” he said. Robertson’s Mill Pond, for example, has bald cypress plants that makes it feel like paddling closer to the coast, Snow said.

“It’s a very unique habitat in Wake County, so we wanted to show that off,” he said.

Turnipseed was large enough with enough diversity to create interest for hikers and at Procter Farm, having equestrian space can preserve the farmland that is already there, Snow said.

Last month, Snow said the county was aware that several people rode horses near Procter Farm illegally on public and private lands because there aren’t enough legal areas.

Open space restrictions

Since the land was acquired as an open space, ther will be minimal development on the property, which might include things like parking and restrooms and maybe some picnic space, Snow said last month.

Procter and Turnipseed would need some trail work and Robertson’s Mill Pond would need a boat ramp.

Those features would be included in later designs though.

The work needed to open all three parks, with restrooms, parking and other small amenities is expected to cost about $2.2 million.

The Open Spaces initiative protects open space in the county by working in partnership with state and federal agencies, local nongovernmental organizations and municipalities to protect 30 percent – roughly 165,000 acres – of Wake County’s land area.

In addition to being the first parcels open to the public, the Procter farm is also the largest parcel Wake County has bought for its open space program.

It includes 563 acres of fields and woods that lie near land Wake County bought for a City of Raleigh reservoir on the Little River that has not yet been built.

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