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The Daily Tar Heel

Commissioners Discuss Parks Proposal

Orange County officials are waiting to hear if their proposal will be approved by the Parks Works Group.

No major decisions regarding plans for the parks projects were made at the session.

"The commissioners just brainstormed," said Orange County Budget Director Donna Dean.

"The basic point was to update the commissioners on what the Intergovernmental Parks Works Group is pursuing and working on."

Orange County voters approved $20 million for parks, recreation and open space in November.

The money was part of a $74 million bond package that included funding for education, senior centers and affordable housing.

Orange County Commissioner Alice Gordon added that all the commissioners can do now is wait until the parks work group comes to a decision.

"We really discussed the projects in depth last night," Gordon said. "Members also had the chance to raise points of clarification."

The group, made up of Chapel Hill, Carrboro and Hillsborough officials, is scheduled to meet Feb. 27 to work on and finalize the draft policy for the parks, recreation and open space projects proposal.

Dean said the commissioners expect feedback from the towns.

"Presently we are waiting on input from the towns," Dean said. "We asked each town -- Hillsborough, Chapel Hill and Carrboro -- to submit their top priorities in their budget.

"The towns are bond partners. They have come together to get these things done."

Chapel Hill, for example, submitted its proposed budget for the Homestead Park Aquatics Center.

Dean said the Chapel Hill Aquatics Center is set to receive $3.5 million from the bond fund and an additional $5.5 million from the town.

The Carrboro Board of Aldermen was expected to discuss its potential parks projects at its Tuesday meeting.

Carrboro parks projects could include $2 million to fund soccer fields and $250,000 for a park at Smith Middle School.

Other proposed parks include the Southern Community Park, which is planned for a large section of woodland located in Southern Village, a mixed-use development located at the intersection of U.S. 15-501 and Dogwood Acre Drive.

The park would be shared by Chapel Hill and Carrboro residents.

Officials say that to obtain land needed for park projects, Orange County will rely on the Land Legacy Program, a county initiative designed to preserve green space.

"The program has been very successful and has preserved 700 acres of land in the county," Gordon said.

"The program gives the county mechanisms for buying land."

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The City Editor can be reached at citydesk@unc.edu.

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