Board seeks balance with natural areas

DAVIDSON ­­– Commissioners are wary of an idealistic goal to have a central park with desired amenities such as a meetinghouse, aquatic center, farmers’ market shelter or athletic fields.

After meetings with community members to develop a Davidson Parks and Recreation Master Plan, LandDesign consultants presented the draft document to the board during an Aug. 26 work session. The town’s parks and recreation department hopes to have it approved by the end of December so they can apply for grants in January.

Davidson was commended for having 77 acres of natural space per 1,000 people compared to the recommended standard of 16 acres per 1,000 people. But LandDesign’s Beth Poovey said the town was severely lacking in active space, such as greenways, athletic fields and lake activities.

The town fell way below the recommended 19.7 miles of paved greenways for the current population, with Davidson having less than four miles.

Commissioner Beth Cashion understood the need for more, but felt the standard was unrealistic for a town their size, which only has 41 miles of streets. She also worried it would take away from the natural space.

“Your community is asking for that,” Poovey countered. “They want more trails and connections. This is the standard to strive for.”

Another recommendation that received discussion was the idea of a Town of Davidson community central park. Commissioners questioned why Roosevelt Wilson Park didn’t fit that because of its location.

“Maybe it is, but people don’t see it as that. It’s not functioning like that,” Poovey said.

The studies found the most beneficial existing facilities are the Village Green, Fisher Farm Park and the Ada Jenkins Center. While the lots near Summit Coffee, Village Green and farmer’s market are good on their own, they aren’t meeting the needs as much as they could, Poovey advised. She suggested if they couldn’t make a park area, they should expand them and offer better connectivity between them as well as the nearby Roosevelt Wilson Park or Ada Jenkins.

Another option was to add small-scale active components to existing facilities, such as bocce ball, pickle ball or tennis courts, which are desired elements. It was also recommended to partner with other entities to use their facilities.

The draft plan also noted that current park maintenance wasn’t as effective as it could be. The town is working to improve the problem.

Poovey asked the board to at least consider some of the recommendations.

“This is not a super aggressive plan,” she said of the draft. “In my expert opinion, this is a very realistic plan. You may not achieve all of those things, but partnerships may make the gaps get filled.”

The full parks master plan presentation is available through the town’s website.