CORNELIUS – Since residents asked for more waterfront activities, town commissioners are trying to deliver however they can.
A proposed swimming hole off Lake Norman is still out of their hands right now. But thanks to progress made during an April 21 board meeting, the town is on its way to getting a fishing hole, plus trails, boardwalks, additional athletic fields and courts and other improvements.
Commissioners joked that it was parks night as they unanimously approved bids and items that will affect projects at Robbins and Bailey Road parks.
The board also approved a $500 grassroots grant from Scott’s Miracle-Gro for lumber, plants and soil for improvements and expansion to the community garden in Smithville.
Much of the discussion surrounded phase three of Robbins Park.
The board approved a contract with Eaglewood Inc. to develop the project for $1,020,000. The company was the lowest out of six bids submitted.
The board approved a finance contract with BB&T Bank to borrow $700,000 at 2.6 percent interest for installment funding over the next 10 years. The money is in addition to the cost of the design work, which was funded in the fiscal year 2013 budget, and the $300,000 Parks and Recreation Trust Fund grant the town received from the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
Parks Director Troy Fitzsimmons presented that the million-dollar project includes the redevelopment of two ponds including earthen dams and construction of .8 of a mile of paved multipurpose trails, boardwalks, a sand volleyball court and a dodge ball pit, among other items.
“It’s all going to be a great addition to the park,” he said.
The inclusion of a ga-ga pit, derived from dodge ball, is what sold the grant board on giving the town money, Fitzsimmons said, thanking Town Manager Anthony Roberts for the suggestion.
There are also plans to partner with the county and add a connecter greenway trail to the Alexander Chase community, which had previously said it didn’t want the connection but has reconsidered.
To make the fishing hole a reality, the board also approved a N.C. Wildlife Resource Commission donation of two small American Disability Act approved fishing piers and a pledge to stock the ponds with fish once they have been refilled. The donation is worth $52,000 and includes $44,000 in donated amenities and services and $8,000 in reimbursements for a concrete pier abutment installation.
“They are a great partner,” Fitzsimmons said, adding they are stocking the ponds with brim, bass and catfish. “They will be small fish, not something you can fry up in a pan, but it’s a great opportunity to get the kids out there.”
Fishing was previously available at the park but too much silt stopped that. The pond renovations will allow it back and also put an artificial reef in the water.
Robbins Park is a joint venture project with Westmoreland Lake, Mecklenburg County and the town.
Bailey Road Park
This fall, athletes will be able to play rain or shine year-round thanks to two new synthetic turf fields being constructed at Bailey Road Park.
The board approved a contract with Sports Construction Management Inc to develop and install the multipurpose fields totaling just over $1 million. Commissioners previously approved a partnership with Carolina Rapids Soccer Club, which will gradually pay $850,000 toward the project provided they have first pick at field use.
Sports Construction Management was chosen over two other bidders because it had a low base bid on top of an additional package that includes an eight-year annual maintenance plan that also extends the warranty from eight to 10 years.
Fitzsimmons said service includes coming twice a year to do the majority of the maintenance, though the town will still have to refluff fibers and gently brush it occasionally.
Roberts said they were given recommendations on all of the bidding companies and told they really couldn’t go wrong with any of them.
Construction of the new fields will take place after Relay For Life on May 2, the School of Rock FunFest on May 3 and a scheduled triathlon May 4 and is slated to be complete by mid-August.