The final step in the 20-year process of Carrboro’s Martin Luther King Jr. Park began Saturday, when former and current town officials participated in the groundbreaking ceremony.
Anita Jones-McNair, director of the Carrboro Recreation and Parks Department, introduced the history of the park from its beginnings two decades ago. The original purchase of the 10 acres was approved in 1999, and the naming of the park after Martin Luther King Jr. was agreed upon in 2004.
“We truly thank the efforts both present and past,” Jones-McNair said to a round of applause.
Anna Richards, president of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro NAACP, said the name of the park is an important milestone for the town.
“Naming a park is a significant thing,” she said. “This is a permanent part of our community.”
Mayor Pro Tempore Damon Seils also attended, saying he was pleased to see that several attendees had ridden bikes to the ceremony. He next introduced Penny Rich, chairperson of the Orange County Board of County Commissioners.
“This is a real legacy that you’ve created for the Town of Carrboro,” she said, congratulating the community and town officials for the accomplishment.
The park already includes a community garden, which has been functioning for several seasons. The plan for the rest of the park includes a multi-use field, constructed wetlands, an amphitheater, exercise stations and a pump track for cyclists. The edges of the park will include pollinator gardens, and all buildings will have rainwater harvest cisterns, which are tanks for storing water.
Chris Milner and his family live just down the road from the park, and he said they’re all very excited.
“We’re looking forward to having a new park in the neighborhood, especially the pump track,” he said.
Board of Aldermen member Jacquelyn Gist spoke about the long history of the park’s development, including how the plan has changed throughout the years. The park originally included a road through the middle, though she said everyone was relieved that that was no longer included in the design.
The sense of community was evident, with a large crowd in attendance despite the light rain. Many community members rode bikes to the ceremony and brought their dogs and children, expressing their excitement for a new park.
“This is really the park that community built,” Gist said. “And isn’t that in the spirit of Dr. King?”
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