For about a year, Kaplan Park’s centerpiece walking and fitness trail has been severed in two, a missing footbridge making it impossible to complete the quarter-mile loop.
Residents of the modest Southwest Raleigh neighborhood say a fix is long overdue, and they’ve been emailing complaints to the Raleigh City Council in recent weeks.
The bridge, according to an email from resident Lucy Bradley, “was knocked down by a falling tree over a year ago and we really miss it.
“What is the reason for the delay? What can we in the neighborhood do to speed up the process?”
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Parks superintendent Wayne Schindler says the bridge was more than 25 years old and couldn’t be repaired. But the city initially had no money to put in a new bridge.
So since the tree fell, walkers have been confronted with an orange mesh barricade at the creek.
“We replace structures like this out of our capital improvement program,” Schindler explained. “Those items have to be programmed in and scheduled.”
The $75,000 needed to replace the bridge was secured this summer, and Schindler says the city will begin designing the project this fall. The goal is to open a restored trail by next spring. “We’re looking at doing this in a time of the year when there is not a great deal of activity out there,” he said.
The city will also tear out a second footbridge at the front of the park because it has “structural issues that cannot be repaired,” Schindler said. Instead of replacing it, the loop trail will be rerouted to the Kaplan Drive sidewalk.
The delay in fixing Kaplan Park comes as Raleigh prepares to float a $91.78 million parks bond referendum in November. City Councilman Thomas Crowder, whose district includes the Kaplan Park area, has been pushing for upgrades to aging parks and community centers in Southwest Raleigh.
Crowder has argued that facilities in the area have seen few improvements since the 1970s and “are really showing wear and tear.” The parks bond includes renovations for three neighborhood centers in North Raleigh, but similar facilities at Powell Drive and Method Road parks were left out of the package.