While Knightdale Station Park has received a lion’s share of attention in recent times, town leaders haven’t forgotten there is another fully functional recreational space just a matter of blocks down the road from their booming destination park.
At its Aug. 19 meeting, the town council approved spending $9,600 to update the master plan for Harper Park that town staff say is at least 20 years old. The update is expected to be completed within the next three to six months alongside revisions currently being made to the master plan for Knightdale Station Park.
The goal is to dovetail Harper Park with the vision the town has for Knightdale Station Park and the downtown district.
“It kind of makes sense to do them in a comprehensive fashion since the two parks are five-minute walk apart,” town spokesman Brian Bowman said in an interview. “(Harper Park) is an excellently-maintained facility, we’re just exploring opportunities to improve it further to the best of our ability.”
Funding for the Harper Park plan update is being pulled from money set aside for planning another recreational space this fiscal year on about 40 town-owned acres north of Knightdale High School.
Cary-based CLH Design is the firm overseeing the master planning of the Harper and Knightdale Station parks.
The original master plan for Knightdale Station Park was completed in 2009.
The Parks and Recreation Advisory Board and the Land Use Review Board recommended several revisions for the Knightdale Station Park plan – including expanded parking, additional playgrounds and a larger dog park – that the design firm presented to the council in July.
Breathing new life into the plan for Harper Park is expected to help the town avoid overbooking Knightdale Station Park and subsequently compromising its intended rural character.
“We had heard a few comments from different boards that wanted to ensure Knightdale Station Park wasn’t over-programmed and that the Harper Park master plan hadn’t been updated in a long time, so it was a good time to update them both,” said senior planner Jennifer Currin.
Having up-to-date master plans in place will give Knightdale a better chance of winning grant funding for any future improvement projects it chooses to pursue for the parks.
“Almost the first question on every grant is, is this project on a locally-adopted plan,” said Planning Director Chris Hills. “If the answer is no, you can almost never go forward.”
Discussion on what improvements the future may hold for Harper Park has yet to truly begin. A timeline on the master planning process is expected to be announced in the near future.
CLH Design’s role in the Harper Park plan includes meeting with town officials and stakeholders to review project expectations; gathering field data that could steer design and programming decisions; developing up to three concept plans; and using staff and focus group feedback to revise and complete the favored plan.
“We’re just kind of getting that ball rolling,” Hills said. “There will be a whole process where we gather input and feedback on the concept.”