Cary News

Morrisville gears up for new parks

Two new parks are coming to town soon, and the Morrisville Community Park is also set for some upgrades.

Northwest Park has been behind schedule and over budget. Jerry Allen, director of Morrisville Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources, told the town council that the park is expected to cost about $1.1 million and will open in the fall of 2015.

The town council already has appropriated $315,000 toward the project and will discuss how to fund the other $765,000 in March, after construction plans have been approved.

The 2.5-acre park, which will be off Parkside Valley Drive in the Breckenridge neighborhood, will contain a walking trail, fitness station, picnic areas and two playgrounds. It has been in the works since 2007, when Breckenridge donated the land to the town, and was a key part of Mayor Mark Stohlman’s election campaign.

Meanwhile, the opening of the larger 25-acre Church Street Park, also on the north side of town, has been delayed. The $5.2 million park was slated to open this month but will open early next year, officials said.

It will feature the Triangle’s first regulation cricket pitch. About a fifth of Morrisville residents are of from Inida, where cricket is the most popular sport.

There will be tennis courts that have excited groups such as the Western Wake Tennis Association, which tweeted a photo of the nearly finished courts in November with the hashtags “when can we play” and “who needs nets.”

The town tweeted back to stay tuned for a ribbon cutting. But Allen said the town needs to wait for better weather to install playground equipment and will open the park after the installation.

“We expect the playground will go in sometime after the first of the year,” he said.

Stohlman said he and other residents are excited for that day to come.

“I went there the other day,” he said. “It’s going to be amazing, a wonderful park. And the whole time I was there, 20 or 30 minutes, there were people driving around and looking.”

Other projects

Other parks and recreation plans in the works include expansions of the Morrisville Community Park and upgrades to the Morrisville Aquatic and Fitness Center (MAFC), two projects approved and funded by residents in a 2012 bond referendum.

Voters overwhelmingly approved $5.7 million for those projects as well as an additional $14.3 million to connect McCrimmon Parkway between N.C. 54 and Evans Road.

The MAFC might be included in the town’s plans to build a new downtown area on Jeremiah Street and Town Hall Drive. At a recent meeting, town staff and elected officials said the current building is outdated, too small and uses its space inefficiently.

Several also said if the building stays at its current location, there’s a possibility for expansion. The town owns 5 acres of empty land behind the building, and with new tennis courts being built at Church Street Park, several town council members said they would consider demolishing the MAFC’s tennis courts to expand the building.

A second pool and more rooms for workout classes are at the top of the council’s wish list for the park, along with more courts for racquetball or squash.

Other suggestions included adding a cafe, kitchen or basketball court. Those amenities could make the facility popular for groups looking to rent space for camps or special events.

Steve Rao said the town needs to provide more room for camps. “There’s a lot of parents in Morrisville with children in year-round schools, and there’s not enough camps ... for that market,” he said.

A second pool also could be rented out for swim lessons or competitions, officials said, and Vicki Scroggins-Johnson suggested adding a splash pad or fountain for younger children.