Cary News

Cary moving forward with funding, name for new Downtown Park

Downtown Park will include a town square space, located near the corner of South Academy Street and Dry Avenue, featuring a central fountain, outdoor performance space, open lawn area, side garden areas and public art.
Downtown Park will include a town square space, located near the corner of South Academy Street and Dry Avenue, featuring a central fountain, outdoor performance space, open lawn area, side garden areas and public art. Courtesy of the Town of Cary

Construction on a 7-acre park in downtown Cary can move forward after a four-month delay with reduced construction costs and a new name – Downtown Park.

The Cary Town Council on Thursday, Sept. 10, unanimously selected the new name and awarded the project to JM Thompson Co. of Cary for $4.3 million, an amount that’s higher than what was originally budgeted for the project.

But with a $4.3 million price tag for construction, the council had to appropriate an additional $600,000 at Thursday’s meeting. The town now has set aside $5.6 million for the park.

Downtown Park, which will be on town-owned land bound by South Academy Street, East Park, Walker, Walnut and Kildaire Farm Roads, will include a town square space near the corner of South Academy and Dry Avenue. This space will feature a central fountain, outdoor performance space, open lawn area, side garden areas and public art.

Earlier this year, the Cary Town Council rejected three bid offers for the project that were $800,000 to $1.6 million over budget. Initially, the town had hoped to spend about $3.8 million on the first phase of the park, using $2 million approved by Cary voters as part of the 2012 bond referendum.

When bids came back over budget, the council instructed town staff to re-bid the project after evaluating how the town could save money without diminishing the integrity of the project. The major change to the plan was to substitute precast concrete panel walls with brick.

After project contracts are signed, construction should begin in mid-October and will be completed about a year later, said Paul Kuhn, Cary’s facilities design and construction manager.

The council selected the name for the park after staff suggested three options: Downtown Park, Town Square and Town Center Park.

Mayor Harold Weinbrecht and council members Jennifer Robinson and Lori Bush voiced support for Downtown Park. Councilmen Don Frantz and Ed Yerha supported Downtown Park or Downtown Cary Park.

“The town square – that’s part of the park,” Bush said. “Town Center – It’s not really in the center of town ... and ‘Downtown’ is a very descriptive place. I mean we have the Cary Arts (Center), The Cary theater. We don’t need fluffy stuff.”

Frantz said the council took the same approach when naming the Cary Arts Center.

“We got a bunch of interesting and unique suggestions from the public on that one,” he said. “But at the end of the day, we just decided to call it what it is – the Cary Arts Center – and I think that’s worked out very well. When we say Downtown Park, people know exactly what you’re talking about and where it is.”

The council also considered renaming the park after a person in the future, if it’s appropriate.

“I think it’s flexible if we want to name it after someone when it was appropriate at a later time,” Councilman Ed Yerha said. “It can always be so and so Downtown Park.”

Other business

In other business, the council also approved:

▪ Submitting four roadway projects to the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization to be considered to receive Locally Administered Projects Program funding for fiscal year 2017.

Staff will submit road widening projects for Holly Springs Road from Jones Franklin Road to Cary Parkway; Reedy Creek Road from Chapel Hill Road to Northeast Maynard Road; and Carpenter Fire Station Road from Cameron Pond Road to N.C. 55.

The staff will select the fourth project to submit based on CAMPO feedback and project competitiveness out of three additional road widening projects: Morrisville Carpenter Road from Davis Drive to Louis Stephens Road; Cary Parkway Road from Evans Road to Harrison Avenue; or Arthur Pierce Road from Kildaire Farm Road to Holly Springs Road.

▪ Installing Sister Cities signs at a temporary location on Town Hall Campus adjacent to Academy Street. This sign will acknowledge the Town of Cary’s four Sister Cities with the names of the cities and their locations in relation to Cary. Once Downtown Park is complete, the sign will be moved to a permanent location.

Kathryn Trogdon; 919-460-2608; @KTrogdon

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