Raleigh parks officials want to hear from kids and teens about the play pieces they'd like to see as part of renovations planned for John Chavis Memorial Park near downtown Raleigh.
A youth input session is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 25, at Chavis Community Center, 505 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd, Raleigh. A session for the general public follows from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
The historic park opened in summer 1938 as a "separate but equal" recreational facility for African Americans, with money from the federal Works Progress Administration, according to the city. The park became a community gathering space with a pool, picnic areas and sporting events. It also is home to one of the city's two historic carousels (the other is in Pullen Park). In May, the National Park Service added the park to the National Register of Historic Places.
Some work has been completed at the park in recent years. In 2013, the city moved the carousel to the front of the park off Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and into a new climate controlled building.
Now the park is slated for an even bigger overhaul thanks to the 2014 Park Bond, which set aside nearly $12 million for a project. The council is expected to approve the park design this spring. Construction could start in 2018. Right now, city officials are seeking input from residents about what they'd like to see in the park.
On Jan. 25, the city will host separate session for teens and kindergartners to 12-year-olds, Shawsheen Baker, senior park planner, tells me.
"We will have the proposed overall site and building plans for them to comment on," Baker tells me. "Most importantly, they will be telling us their preferred play elements and water play features."
Kids from the afterschool program at Chavis will attend the meeting, but other kids from the community are invited and welcome to share their thoughts. City staff also are happy to take comments from the parents of the kids in attendance during the special session. During the evening session, there will be a general group discussion and breakout sessions.
City officials are slated to present to the public the design incorporating all of the input from the Jan. 25 meetings on Feb. 15.