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New Plan Could Mean More Books, Open Fields

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A drawing of one of the proposed athletic fields.
RALEIGH — Wake County is laying out plans to catch up with the population boom. More places to play and more space to read books are in the works. Ifit passes, more than $70 million dollars of improvements to parks andlibraries could be on the way.

If you're looking for an open soccer field for a quick game or a footballfield to toss a ball around, it's tough to find in today's Triangle. As more and more people make our area home, less and less park space is open.

"We have a lot of people who like to play sports of all types, so not only are we trying to meet the needs of the kids, but also for the adults aswell," explains David Carter, Director of the Wake County Parks andRecreation Department. "Therein lies part of the problem. The demand isfar exceeding our ability to supply all those facilities."

The parks department master plan pitched to county commissioners Monday calls for 1700 acres of new park space with giant sports complexes. Theprice tag? $38 million dollars.

There's a lack of soccer fields, a lack of baseball fields, but there'salso a lack of library space. Library leaders say they're bursting at the seams trying to deal with Wake County's growth.

"There's just not enough space to handle the public that comes to us,"says Wake County Libraries Director Thomas Moore. "To be able to stockthe collection, we need to be able to serve that public and have room foreverybody to interact with each other."

The library master plan calls for five new district libraries andimprovements to two regional libraries. That would mean another $32million dollars.

"There's only X number of fields, and you've got Y number of players,"Carter says, "and the pot's only so big. So that's what we'reexperiencing right now."

The Wake County Commissioner's pot is only so big too. The question is,what will take priority when the money's on the line?

If passed, both long range plans would stretch over ten years. Countyleaders say voters could see a bond referendum to pay for the projects onthe ballot two years from now.