Weddington rejects joint proposal
For the village of Wesley Chapel, it’s back to the drawing board. Three months after rejecting a land deal and state grant to develop a park, due to unforeseen costs, the Parks and Recreation Committee is sending out letters, collecting data and compiling a new list of possible sites.
“What we’re doing is looking at all properties 15 acres and larger, ” village Council Member and parks Chair Sondra Bradford said. The committee sent out letters to Wesley Chapel property owners, Bradford said, informing them of the search and seeing if anyone wants to sell.
Right now, the committee is looking at more than 15 properties, Bradford said, hoping to generate a list of semifinalists during its Monday, Nov. 15 meeting. After the experiences with Page Price Park, Bradford said the committee generated a ‘score sheet’ of sorts, identifying qualities that move properties up or down the list.
“It lists all the factors involved with determining if a property would be beneficial for us to obtain, ” Bradford said. “If there are power lines there, OK, that’s not ideal. If there’s a pond, that’s a plus.”
Finding the right location for a park has been complicated and caused sometimes heated discussion in the village. The council turned down a $500, 000 grant from the state Aug. 1, still questioning the final cost for the Page Price property. Instead of the original $250, 000 estimated for work on the park, the the cost of installing the park, located on Hwy. 84 across from the Price Hill neighborhood, had ballooned to $410, 000.
The $410, 000 price tag comes from the site’s man-made dam, which had started to erode. Due to its location near Hwy. 84, the N.C. Department of Environmental Resources declared it a high hazard dam, which would have required the town to strengthen the dam to a higher standard, being able to withstand 14 inches of rain within 24 hours.
While the village lost out on the state grant this year, officials can apply again in February and hope to have a site in mind by then, Bradford said.
“What I’m hoping is at the next meeting, we can identify what properties we’re interested in, then identify preliminary budgets for each one, ” Bradford said.
Looking for local partnerships
Hoping to defray some of the cost, Bradford reached out to other towns bordering Wesley Chapel to see if they would consider a joint park concept. The reaction from the Weddington town council was not exactly enthusiastic.
The cost of such a partnership, Weddington Council Member Robert Gilmartin told his board, could reach an estimated $1 million.
“Right now I’ve got sticker shock, ” Council Member Werner Thomisser said.
Other council members questioned why Weddington would donate to Wesley Chapel, when the village doesn’t spend any money to help the Wesley Chapel-Weddington Athletic Association, located on the border of Weddington. Several hundred Wesley Chapel kids play sports at the facility, whose only source of municipal funding comes from Weddington.
“They don’t contribute to the WCWAA, someone offered to donate (property) to them and now they’re coming to us” to pay for a park? Weddington Mayor Nancy Anderson said. “I don’t understand it.”
Bradford, who also plans to reach out to Indian Trail, said she was just trying to think outside the box and find more options. She hopes to have a list of preliminary sites ready for Wesley Chapel’s Dec. 13 town council meeting.