Enquirer Herald

Clover moves ahead with park expansion plans

CLOVER -- Clover is a step closer to expanding Clover Community Park.

Town Council recently selected Withers & Ravenel, a Cary, N.C.,-based architectural firm for the long-awaited expansion.

The search for a firm to tackle the expansion project, which could bring new soccer and baseball fields to the park as soon as next summer, began when the town issued a Request for Qualification on April 23. Twenty-four firms responded by the bid by May 9. From there, a review committee comprised of Clover Town Administrator Allison Harvey, Recreation Director Greg Holmes and Park Superintendent Scott Moses evaluated the firms based on a detailed list of criteria. They considered each firm's experience with similar projects, key project team members, client references, proposed plan and timeframe and successful negotiation of fee for the work.

"I expect to have a concept plan by the end of the year that will include park amenities that will meet the needs of the community," Harvey said.

Located just off Quinn Street, the park, which has been in use since 1992, currently features only two baseball fields and 23 acres of usable space. The plan is to add 49.5 acres, enlarging the park to over 70 acres of recreational space. Harvey hopes to add at least four lighted baseball fields, several youth soccer fields, walking trails connecting the existing trails and accessory buildings such as concession stands and bathrooms. In addition, she says the town will eventually schedule an open meeting to allow residents the opportunity to suggest further ideas for the park.

Holmes says Clover's recent population boom, which the US Census Bureau marks at over a 10 percent increase during the years 2000 to 2006, has put a strain on the park's limited resources. The biggest concern for residents, though, are the limited number of baseball fields and lack of soccer fields in the park, which force people to use fields at elementary schools in the area. The park expansion, he says, should help alleviate these problems.

"It's just the growth we've experienced over the last five years," Holmes says. "We don't have enough facilities for the number of participants we have, so we definitely need an expansion of the facility."

Greg Lambert, regional landscape architect and assistant director of local government planning for Withers & Ravenel, says his company has significant experience with projects of this type. Known as parks and recreational specialists, the firm will be involved with every aspect of the project.

"We're full-service and we do everything from civil engineering to landscape engineering," Lambert says. "We're a one-stop shop."

Lambert, who will also serve as project manager for the Clover expansion, says the project will most likely be completed in phases, with the first phase focusing on building the soccer fields. The firm has tentatively planned on completing its survey phase this summer, followed by an approval and permit phase in early fall, bidding and award for the contract in November and the start of construction in late December or early January. Finally, construction of the park expansion may last until May, 2009. Barring any problems with weather or permits, Lambert predicts the first construction phase could be completed within four months. If all goes to plan, Clover could see new soccer fields by late spring or early summer 2009.

"We intend to work within the budget and timeframe the city of Clover has established," Lambert says. "Although the tentative plans could change if we find that other needs take preference."