STEELE CREEK -- Late next year, folks in Steele Creek should have the first phase of a new regional park to play in.
Folks gathered last week to hear representatives from the Charlotte Mecklenburg Park and Recreation Department and LandDesign give details on the 195-acre park that will be constructed on the north end of the Berewick subdivision.
It is being designed as an active park with multiple fields that could host regional soccer tournaments. It also will feature miles of walking trails and a dog park.
But for now, only a small part of the 195 acres is being developed.
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Though the park will be built adjacent to the Berewick subdivision, it will be a county park and open to the public. Access to the park will be off Dixie River Road.
LandDesign's Dan Dodd said the land slopes considerably, so the park's design was a challenge. The entire layout also had to be redone since the Department of Transportation decided not to realign Dixie River Road.
Dodd said that due to budget constraints, the park will be built in phases. The first phase consists of 38 acres and is being done in partnership with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools.
CMS will construct an elementary school on the site. A recreation center will be built next door to the school. The center, two baseball/multipurpose fields and one larger field, a restroom building, and parking will be shared between the school and the park.
David Nelson, park planner with the Southwest District, says that shared concept is gaining in popularity and is a way to stretch limited tax dollars. He cited the new Hickory Grove school/park as a good example of a recent partnership between the school and park system.
Nelson said the project will require collaboration between school and park officials to decide when the recreation center and the fields are available to the public and when they will be used exclusively by the school. But he says that's not a problem since it already is being done in several locations around the county.
Dodd said the final design for the school/park complex should be finished in June. CMS is expected to start construction on the elementary school this summer and expects it to open in the fall of 2009.
Dodd said construction on the park should begin in December with phase one facilities to open in late 2009.
The park land was purchased in 2002 for $25,500 an acre, or about $4 million. The Park and Recreation budget for development of the first phase is $1.2 million. Nelson said he's not sure when the other phases will be built. That depends on future park bonds.
Berewick resident Mike D'Avria said he's a little disappointed that the first phase is so small and won't be open until late 2009.
"All the literature from Berewick says there will be a 195-acre park opening in 2009. Now it's 38 acres opening in December 2009. I knew it would be built in phases, but now they say they have no idea when the additional phases will be funded. I guess we're now finding out the truth," D'Avria said.
Want to know more? Park planner David Nelson said the Berewick Park plan will be online atwww.parkandrec.com
in the next few weeks.
Park and Recreation officials also are looking for two advisory members for the Southwest Park District Citizens Advisory Council. That organization works with Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation to make decisions about parks in the southwest part of the county. Applications can be found at www.parkandrec.com.