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Improving quality of life and place: Concord approves two park master plans

Improving quality of life and place: Concord approves two park master plans

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The Concord City Council approved two park master plans during Thursday’s city council meeting, which will revamp one park and create one new.

The James Dorton Park Master Plan is slated to begin construction in fiscal year 2024, but some of the construction could be phased in over time as opposed to occurring in one fiscal year, Jason Pauling said. The park’s design, construction and the Coddle Creek Greenway construction will cost about $4.6 million.

The master plan will add one new playground near the tennis courts, an activity and fitness zone and a new shade structure.

Both residents and city staffers said that one of the main aspects for revitalization in the park was access, said Dodd Studio Urban Planner Anna Simpson. To address this, the master plan proposes to add one pedestrian access point on Burke Drive and to widen two others. There will also be a greenway that runs through the park that will connect to the West Cabarrus YMCA.

The plan also addresses significant erosion from the Afton Run Branch. The stream will be stabilized and a rain garden will be added to the park to help with runoff.

Two community workshops were held in 2019 to assess the public view of the park’s preliminary master plan. The final plan was formed out of the feedback from the workshops.

Dodd Studio’s work to ensure community input was paramount in forming the plan, and council member Terry Crawford thanked the studio for its efforts.

“You guys have done a marvelous job coming up with a plan that will take this park into the future and provide even more services of our city,” he said.

The second approved park master plan was for the David Phillips Activity Center. The activity center is on a 10.4-acre property on Burrage Road, where an open-air learning center was recently completed. Construction on the park is scheduled to begin in fiscal year 2025. The park will serve as an extension of the activity center, said Gary Fankhauser of Viz Design.

“The idea here is not necessarily to create a destination park where people come,” he said. “It is to actually create elements within the park that can be used for classes and skills training and a wide variety of outdoor activities, as well as taking some of the indoor activities and bringing those to the outdoors.”

The activity center will have a patio, but other classroom space will be available through the park. There will be an outdoor classroom and workshop area, an activity shelter and an aviary shade sail — for skills and activity training. The plans also show a tree-house lookout that can be used as extra outdoor classroom space in addition to the patio.

The park plan features will all have dual purposes, Fankhauser said. He used the erosion on the property as an example. The park plans include a rain garden as a way to control storm runoff. Fankhauser said the garden and other environmental control infrastructure will serve to control erosion and provide environmental education.

The master plan also includes terrace gardens and a potential orchard to be included on the property. Not only will they be a visual aspect, but classes for cooking or gardening could use these amenities, he said.

The McEachern Greenway will also connect to the park near the stream. Off from the greenway is a proposed sandy area that will work as a beach area, Fankhauser said. The beach will function as an environmental education area.

Mayor Bill Dusch praised the out-of-the-box thinking proposed in the plans and the dual-functioning aspects.

“This is quite amazing to see,” the mayor said. “To me, this is thinking out-of-the-box, and it is really exciting to see some of the options here.”

City Manager Lloyd Payne said the amenities and structures in the plan came from the council’s desire to better the quality of life for residents.

“This is another project indicative of staff listening to council and, once you have a strategic plan, pushing forward with the quality of life and the quality of place for residents and others that visit our city,” he said.

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