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The Daily Tar Heel

Carrboro to finalize plans for Martin Luther King Jr. park

Community members participate in a input session about the future development of Martin Luther King Jr. Park at the Carrboro Century Center on Saturday morning.
Community members participate in a input session about the future development of Martin Luther King Jr. Park at the Carrboro Century Center on Saturday morning.

Ten years after a revamped park was proposed for Hillsborough Road in Carrboro, plans for the project may finally be put on paper this fall.

The Martin Luther King Jr. Park, which was first proposed in 2004, is planned to occupy 10 acres of land at 1120 Hillsborough Road, but there is not a definite preliminary blueprint for it. This blueprint is expected to be made by the end of the year, while development for the park is scheduled to begin in 2016 or 2017.

The original budget for the park was $1.2 million, but there is no cost estimate yet for the current plan. 

While the park was approved in 2004, the town hasn't been able to fund its construction because there have been more pressing needs in Carrboro’s Capital Improvement Plan, said Anita Jones-McNair, director of the Carrboro Recreation and Parks department. The program prioritizes infrastructure needs and allows projects to be developed and outlined before their construction begins.

Other infrastructure needs, such as a fire station, were more urgent, Jones-McNair said. 

“There are a lot of projects in line for funding,” Alderman Sammy Slade said.

There is revitalized interest in the park because it is the next project on the list, he said. 

The park will provide nearby neighborhoods and the town at large with a green area.

“It will provide an opportunity for families and other residents to participate in activities and socialize,” Jones-McNair said.

There have been two recent public input sessions to generate ideas for what should be included in the park. 

Derek Williams, president of Site Solutions, the developer of the park, said the first session focused on generalities and interests while the second one dealt with sharing information with the public and proposing templates for the park's design. 

Ideas proposed for the park included a bicycle pump track, a natural playground made of recycled materials, a pollinator garden, walking trails, water-saving bathrooms and an expansion of the current community garden, Williams said.

Other proposed ideas include a meditation section and a natural amphitheater, Jones-McNair said. 

Williams said along with the planned attractions, residents want some of the space to remain undeveloped.

There have been some changes made to the plan for the park since 2004, Williams said. And there will be more meetings regarding the park this fall after revisions are made to its plan. 

"It is a very collaborative effort," Williams said. “We will take the information gathered, combine it and make a plan involving the input."

Slade said the only concern voiced by the public has involved a paved road that would connect the park to a close neighborhood. The road is required by law, but the public does not want it.

“We’ve heard a lot from the community,” Jones-McNair said. “It’s time to put that vision down on paper.”

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