Cary News

Council funds west Cary park

The town will soon break ground on a 16-acre park in west Cary that’s been in the works for more than seven years.

The Cary Town Council on Feb. 12 unanimously agreed to pay $2.2 million to Fred Smith Company to build what will be known as Carpenter Park at the corner of Morrisville Carpenter Road and Louis Stephens Drive.

The town purchased the land in 2007 in hopes of turning it into a park but didn’t proceed with plans until after voters approved $2 million in funding for it through the 2012 vote referendum.

Carpenter Park will feature a community garden, children’s playground, a 3/10-mile pedestrian trail around a pond, lawn areas and basketball and pickleball courts.

“We believe it’s gonna be a great asset for that neighborhood,” said Councilwoman Jennifer Robinson, who represents that area of town.

The town plans to begin construction with a ceremony on March 24 and finish construction in winter of next year.

Due to financial restrictions, initial construction of Carpenter Park will not include components from initial plans: public art, a pedestrian tunnel under Morrisville Carpenter Road, a trail system through the woods or lights for the courts.

The park will include a memorial to those who died in nearby plane crashes years ago.

Twelve people died on Feb. 19, 1988, when Flight 3378 crashed shortly after taking off from RDU. On Dec. 13 1994, 15 people died when Flight 3379 crashed about a mile from the park site.

Family members of survivors are working with the Family Assistance Foundation and Dee Sherrow, a pilot living in Cary, to raise money for the memorial. They have raised $44,000 of their $55,000 goal to build the memorial. It will consist of two long black walls aligned in the flight direction of each crashes.

Carpenter Park will have a different “feel” from other parks, said Councilwoman Lori Bush. That’s one of the main reasons she’s excited about it.

Carpenter Park is located in an historic area of town and will be home to the area’s first large community garden, she said.

“I’m not aware of a community garden in a (Cary) town park,” she said. “I’m just excited for people who don’t have their own garden to have space to enjoy getting their hands in the dirt, whether it’s with flowers or fruits and vegetables.”

The town most recently started working on Jack Smith Park, which the town plans to open this fall on a 50-acre tract of Penny Road in southern Cary.

Unique features of Jack Smith Park will include the town’s second dog park, a climbing rock, sheep sculptures by William Moore and whirligigs by the late artist Vollis Simpson.

Green Hope Elementary School Park on Louis Stephens Drive, one of the nearest parks to Carpenter Park, mostly has athletic fields and paved walking paths.

Specht: 919-460-2608;

Twitter: @AndySpecht