If everything goes according to plan, thousands of visitors could swarm to southwest Apex in a few years for youth sports tournaments.
The Apex Town Council approved a design concept Tuesday, Jan. 19, for Pleasant Park, the 92-acre site the town hopes will become a boon for local sports teams as well as an economic booster from travel team tournaments.
The council went all-in on the tournament angle, choosing the design that maximized space at the park. While there will be several miles of wooded cross country trails on the perimeter, the interior of the park will be jammed with athletics facilities.
The plans call for four baseball or softball fields and eight fields that can host either soccer, lacrosse or football.
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The baseball diamonds will be the first thing visitors see as they come in via the large roundabout at the park’s entrance.
“Very aesthetically pleasing, as you drive into the park and see the baseball fields,” said council member Wesley Moyer.
Moyer, who won a state championship playing baseball at Apex High School, serves on the town council’s parks and recreation committee along with Denise Wilkie. They both recommended the design to the full council, which approved it unanimously.
The baseball diamonds and multi-use fields are the main tournament draws, but the sports don’t stop there.
The plans also include eight tennis courts, two basketball courts, a sand volleyball court and a large field for pickup sports, “open play” or overflow parking. There will be nearly 1,000 paved parking spots.
There are also bathroom facilities and shelters, plus an area for smaller children that will include a splash pad, playground and picnic area.
The two trails on site include a 2.8-mile cross country trail and a .3-mile hard-surface track around one soccer field.
The plan doesn’t include a pool that some residents had requested. A petition gained 1,000 signatures in favor of a YMCA, or another facility that would bring a competition-level swimming pool to the site.
High school swimmers in Apex commute to Cary to practice and host their “home” meets in Harnett County. Parents had hoped Pleasant Park would become a closer option.
“It’s a little disappointing, because both our home schools use Campbell University as their home pool,” said Paige Williams, who started the petition. “Our kids are going to Buies Creek to swim.”
Now that a design is approved, the council can move on from the public input phase of the park and into the paperwork phase.
Brown said he hopes to have a cost estimate by June. That would allow the council to begin discussing how to pay for the park. There are several options, including a bond referendum.
“The previous council talked about a bond, but this council has not broached any of that with me,” Brown said. “I think they’re waiting to see some numbers first.”
Apex spent $3.4 million buying the park land in 2014.
Neighbors’ traffic concerns
Officials also will begin applying for the proper permits and will start discussions with the N.C. Department of Transportation and the CSX railroad company.
The transportation discussions have been requested by the residents of nearby Pleasant Plains Road, which shares the only road in and out of the park. Residents have frequently expressed concerns over traffic and safety, but town officials have sought to reassure them and have promised to look into options for a second road leading out of the park.
“We’re going to do everything we can to address the neighbors’ concerns,” Brown said. “We all know the one access, that that’s a concern.”
The day after the park design was approved, Brown said, he talked to owners of Guy C. Lee building supply store, which is moving to the property between Pleasant Park and N.C. 540 and is interested in helping with traffic access, too.
“And as the other side of (Old U.S. 1) develops, we can talk with those developers about doing things to improve the road as well,” Brown said.
Doran: 919-460-2604; Twitter: @will_doran