About 100 people gathered Sunday to help the Town of Apex design its newest park.
Parents, coaches, senior citizens and youth sports players presented their input on what should or shouldn’t be at Pleasant Park. The park will be on 92 acres purchased by the town last year on the southwest corner of the N.C. 540 and Salem Street/Old U.S. 1 intersection.
No decisions were made Sunday, with officials from the town and its engineering contractors stating their desire to simply collect a wide range of input.
The park is a two-minute drive from the new Apex Friendship High School, and principal Matt Wight came with some parents as well as his cross country and swimming coaches.
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Swimming and cross country are two sports with no high school facilities in Apex.
“When I was at Apex, we had kids on the swim team who would practice in the morning in Cary and then race across town to campus,” said Wight, who was principal of Apex High School before coming to Apex Friendship. “And that always worried me.”
Those needs could be met by Pleasant Park, although many other interests are also at play.
Sunday’s crowd split up at tables. Each had a map of the park and scaled cut-outs of parking lots, soccer and baseball fields, tennis courts, beach volleyball, bathrooms, concessions stands, playgrounds and different sizes of community centers or gyms. They also had string to draw running or hiking trails.
Some groups put in a combination of everything, and others left plenty of empty space on the land, a former tobacco field that has now been taken over by trees and vegetation.
Marlow Campbell, one of the technical directors with Triangle Futbol Club, a travel soccer league, was there along with other TFC officials. Campbell said most TFC players are from Cary and Apex.
They managed to fit eight fields, which could be used for soccer or lacrosse, onto half of the property along with all the requisite parking, bathrooms, bleachers and even a playground.
Campbell said eight fields is a “great” number for hosting tournaments – a key goal identified by the town for Pleasant Park. Sunday’s meeting began with a slideshow of athletic complexes in other towns that have hosted travel team tournaments.
“All those parks they showed, we’ve gone there,” Campbell said. “And we’re always like, ‘Man, why don’t we have anything in Apex?’”
On the other half of the property, the TFC group put four baseball and softball fields and an indoor gym that could be used for volleyball and basketball. Looping around the park were two running trails, one a mile long and the other measuring 5 kilometers.
Some, however, did not agree with that philosophy of using every inch of space. On one large comment sheet, multiple people wrote a variation of the message, “Keep the park as close to nature as possible. Please do not clear-cut 90 acres.”
A group of senior citizens from the nearby Orchard Villas community also came Sunday to voice their opinions on what they did not want to be built at Pleasant Park – a senior center.
“I’m telling you right now, 90 percent of us want the senior center (at the Apex Community Center),” 83-year-old Jim Bedotto said. “And 80 percent of us wouldn’t go down there if there was one there.”
Bedotto said he has been active in the local senior community for more than a decade and has spoken to many people about plans for a senior center. Most seniors live in or near downtown, he said, and many wouldn’t be able to nor would feel comfortable making the five-mile drive from downtown to Pleasant Park.
“I think this is great for the kids,” 80-year-old Jan Stricker said. “And it would be great for me, if I was younger. But I don’t want to drive all the way out there.”
Doran: 919-460-2604; Twitter: @will_doran