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Proposed Raleigh plan includes upgrades to dozen playgrounds

Posted May 4, 2014

Laurel Hills Playground

The Raleigh City Council will consider a draft plan with $106 million in park projects Tuesday, including upgrades to more than a dozen playgrounds across the city.

The projects come from a proposed system plan for the city's parks, developed with input from more than 5,400 residents. Park officials approved the plan in April and moved it forward to council. While the money would pay for some land acquisition and new parks, about 70 percent would go toward fixing and improving what already exists. 

"It's not a lot of new parks," said Stephen Bentley, superintendent of the city's parks, recreation and cultural resources department. "It's reinvestment in our current park system." 

Park supporters hope council members will eventually approve a bond referendum to pay for the improvements, but don't necessarily expect them to approve the full $106 million. At a work session last month, Bentley offered scenarios that would cover $38 million, $62 million and $88 million in projects.

"We recognize it is a large list," he said.

The $106 million includes $56 million in park and facility improvements; $7.5 million in cultural site improvements; $15.6 million in greenway acquisition; and $27 million in land acquisition and development.

During the public process, Bentley said city residents pointed out the need to upgrade old, well-used playgrounds and facilities, built 30 or 40 years ago, that don't serve today's needs.

For instance, the city's neighborhood centers at parks such as Eastgate and Kiwanis offer large kitchens. Residents said they would prefer bigger meeting rooms and smaller kitchens. The plan proposes, for instance, reconfiguring buildings such as those.

Bentley said the plan also calls for upgrading aging playgrounds, including the older, wooden ones that still dot the city's parks. Playgrounds on the proposed list for improvements and replacements include the Dixon Drive greenway area; Optimist Community Park; Worthdale Community Park; Kingwood Forest Neighborhood Park; Carolina Pines Community Park; Spring Mini-Park; Chamberlain Street Mini-Park; Jayce Community Center; Powell Drive Neighborhood Park; Lee Street Mini-Park; and Glen Eden Neighborhood Park.

The plan also would infuse a needed $1 million into Laurel Hills Playground off Edwards Mill Road. The Sassafrass Partnership Project, a local group of parents and others, has worked for more than five years to raze the existing playground and build a new one that is accessible for children of all abilities.

Other projects include $12.5 million for Chavis Park, home to one of the city's two carousels, to pay for a new community center and playground, and $8 million for aquatic facility improvements. Check the full, 200-plus page parks plan for details. 

It likely will take a month or more for the council to make a final decision on what, if any, projects make the cut. A bond referendum could come in November. 

Raleigh currently manages 128 parks, four nature preserves, nine public swimming pools, 47 staff and non-staffed centers, and 104 miles of greenway trails.


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  • ncprr1 May 5, 2014

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    They can't do that, they spent it all building the new Public Safety Cathedral for themselves in downtown Raleigh.

    BTW, your handle could not be more true.

  • whatelseisnew May 5, 2014

    I certainly hope they put up rain shelters for the dealers. They must remain healthy.

  • "Screen Name-8/20" May 5, 2014

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    The majority of Dix property was donated and the donor stipulated in the agreement that it was for mental health facilities and mental health purposes ONLY.

    Doing anything else with that donatged property would nullify that agreement and could give the heirs of the original donor cause to sue to get the property back, and personally, I wouldn't blame them for doing just that - because the value of that property NOW is astronomical as compared to its value when originally donated. An heir to the original owner would be foolish not to press for that if the original donation agreement is breached by the City or State in even the slightest way.

    Yet the legislators going after this seem to have no clue to the legalities of that, or else they're playing dumb and hoping the heirs won't notice.

  • "Screen Name-8/20" May 5, 2014

    I'm all for maintaining and installing SAFETY upgrades for what we have, but not NEW upgrades or NEW parks at this time - because there are more important things our tax dollars should be going towards right now - like raises for police, emergency workers and teachers.

  • Al Smith May 5, 2014
    user avatar

    So they say they don't want any new parks or anything, but they want $42 million plus for acquisitions and development? Sounds like some skullduggery and hair splitting. Oh, we're not building new parks, we're marking old ones bigger. Same difference.

    I'd be cool with the repairs and maintenance on existing land/structures, but any more than that, you're dreaming.

  • lewiskr45 May 5, 2014

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    There is already plans in place for improving the Capital/Wade area

  • archmaker May 5, 2014

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    the state said they didn't want any buildings on the property (the plan that one the competition had bathroom buildings). the city gets to renovate the park as the long-term lease holder, but as the owner, the state has the final say on buildings.

  • Raleigh Rocks 1 May 5, 2014

    It's never a bad idea to invest in the outdoor spaces we all enjoy. ......

    Thats the mentality of a broke person. If you dont have the money, its a bad idea.

  • Raleigh Rocks 1 May 5, 2014

    they need to upgrade some roads first. The entrance ramp to capital blvd. from wade is a great place, and then they need to widen leadmine rd between Millbrook and Sawmill.

  • skeeter II May 5, 2014

    What, no money to purchase Dix campus??

    Then how is Raleigh going to pay for???? Not another bond issue!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Citizens of Raleigh need to vote on whether to purchase the Dix campus before it is bought.

    Better solution is for the State to develop the Dix campus as a State governmental complex by building new multi-story buildings and parking garages. This would enable the State to drastically reduce the building being leased as office space in Raleigh and Wake County!!!!!!!!!! Save much money over many years!!!!!!!!