What should this town of 40,000 people do with 80 wooded acres?
That's a question Wake Forest leaders want residents to help them answer.
The town owns 80 acres behind Heritage High School, and in a series of public meetings dubbed "Picture 80 Acres," Wake Forest wants to hear ideas for how to use the land for outdoor recreation.
The emphasis being on "outdoor."
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"Over the years, we have received comments from citizens about what they wish we had in our park system," said Ruben Wall, director of the town's Department of Parks, Recreation & Cultural Resources. "We think this property may be conducive for some of the things we've heard from citizens — mountain bike trails, disc golf, small nature center, more nature trails."
In promoting the meetings on its website, the town made clear that it doesn't plan to clear-cut the land.
"It is not the Town's intention to disturb the property's existing charm and beauty but rather to achieve an appropriate balance between maintaining its current appeal and adding desired outdoor amenities," the town said.
The meetings — five in all — will include a brief presentation followed by an open forum where residents will have the chance to ask questions and share suggestions.
"We will have an aerial view of the property," Wall said. "Staff and Recreation Advisory Board will talk about the history and what is any limitations we may face."
Here's the schedule:
▪ Monday, June 18 — 6:30 p.m. at the Wake Forest Renaissance Centre, 405 S. Brooks St.
▪ Tuesday, June 19 — 6:30 p.m., Alston-Massenburg Center, 416 N. Taylor St.
▪ Thursday, June 21 — 6:30 p.m., Richland Creek Community Church, 3229 Burlington Mills Road.
▪ Saturday, June 23 — 11 a.m., Wake Forest Town Hall, 301 S. Brooks St.
▪ Tuesday, June 26 — 6:30 p.m., Hope Lutheran Church, 3525 Rogers Road.
Folks who can't attend one of the meetings can share their thoughts online at www.wakeforestnc.gov/contactus.aspx.
Wall said the town does not have a timeline for developing the property. "Funds will be requested next fiscal year to develop a master site plan for the property based on the information we receive from the citizens," he said.
Wake Forest bought the land in 2005 from Andrew and Jeanette Ammons using Wake County open space funds. Wall said he didn't know the purchase price, but today, the 80 acres are valued at $2.3 million, he said.