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North Raleigh Residents Debate Use Of Prized Farmland

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Horseshoe Farm Park is named for the way the Neuse River surrounds the property. It's nearly 150 acres off Ligon Mill Road that's been surrounded by controversy for more than 15 months. With herds of deer, beautiful farmland and trees, everyone agrees the property is a site to see, but that's where the agreement ends.

A citizens committee charged with coming up with a master plan for the park is lead by Wayne Marshall. He and Raleigh officials said that to keep up with the growth of northeast Raleigh, the park should include tennis courts, athletic fields and a dog park.

"Why limit this to open space for butterflies and grass to grow when in fact we need, we absolutely need, a community center, tennis courts and active recreation," said Marshall.

Other committee members agree those things are important, but not here. They would like to see them at other parcels of undeveloped city land close by.

"If you go out to Horseshoe Farm, many of the people that go out there say this place needs to be preserved, this is spectacular and those other things can be on regular property, not this special place," said committee member David Deans.

The master plan voted on and now moving forward keeps Horseshoe Farm Park more of a natural place with trails and camping.

"Having dogs in there, having overhead lighting late at night would detract (from the natural setting)," said Deans.

Two committee members are so upset about the plan that they have resigned. The love of the land has turned into a battle over it.

"The focus of this property is the natural settings," said Deans.

Marshall, whose family has lived in the area for four generations, passionately disagrees.

"I do love it, but understand what it was for," he said. "It was a farm for 100 years, plowed and farmed. Today, it needs to be available to youth and older people to grow on."

The Park Advisory Board is expected to vote on a final plan in July. Then it goes to the Raleigh City Council.

In making a final decision, the council will likely consider 150 acres of land for a park donated by the late Dr. Annie Louise Wilkerson. She was a well-known Raleigh OB/GYN. Under the conditions of her will, it must be kept in a natural state. That property is about three miles from Horseshoe Farm Park.

The public has two weeks to comment on the plan. If you would like to comment, you can send an email to




Melissa Buscher, Reporter
Terry Cantrell, Photographer
Dana Franks, Web Editor

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