The Daily Tar Heel

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Tuesday January 31st

Carrboro considers two designs for Martin Luther King Jr. Park

The Martin Luther King Jr. Park is set to utilize 10 acres of land at 1120 Hillsborough Road.

Derek Williams, president of Site Solutions, the developer of the park, presented two concept designs to the Carrboro Board of Aldermen during its Jan. 13 meeting after reviewing the results from community planning sessions held throughout 2014.

Both designs include a natural playscape, walking trails, expansion of the community garden, a sculpture garden, constructed wetlands, a shelter, a pump track and a camping area. One design involves extending Tripp Farm Road to connect with Hillsborough Road.

After listening to Williams’ presentation of both plans, the aldermen unanimously favored the plan that does not include extending the road.

But they also said more public conversation should be allowed to help determine the final layout of the park.

Williams said that the concept designs presented at the meeting were largely informed by input from community members during open planning sessions.

“They wanted low-impact development, the importance of the community garden was stressed, and the need to expand the garden was mentioned several times,” Williams said during the meeting.

Williams also said there was a group of people who expressed interest in a pump track, which could be used for casual biking as well as for mountain biking.

Chapel Hill resident Dale Rhodes said he participated in each community planning session because he lives adjacent to the park and wants to see it become a pleasant feature of the neighborhood.

Rhodes and several other residents submitted a letter to Randee Haven-O’Donnell, a member of the Carrboro Board of Aldermen, in November. In the letter, they voiced concerns about the extension of Tripp Farm Road and the inclusion of a pump track in the park’s design.

“The park is only 10 acres big, and the proposal for a pump track would consume two or three acres of the 10, and that’s caused some concern among the neighbors,” Rhodes said.

“We don’t think that’s an appropriate use of the land, frankly.”

Haven-O’Donnell said she is concerned that including a pump track will mix two incompatible concepts in the park.

“Unlike with Anderson Park, this is a park that is surrounded with immediate neighbors, so I think it begs the question of what is most suitable to be in a suburban neighborhood rather than downtown,” she said.

Rhodes said he hopes the town will consider the needs of the neighborhood as it continues to develop the design for the park.

“If you live in this part of town, you know there’s not much open space, that MLK Park is pretty much it,” Rhodes said.

“But for people who just want to take their kids for a walk, or throw a frisbee, or take their dogs out or any of those kinds of things, there really was no space before, so that’s really the most important thing for them.”


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