Town hopes to have construction finished and park reopened by mid-August
STALLINGS – A month and a half after Stallings Municipal Park closed for phase two of the park’s construction, officials say the project is moving steadily along.
The project got off to a somewhat rocky start when construction was pushed back a month. “We had some weather issues that delayed us,” Dina Sabinske, director of the Stallings Park and Recreation Department, said. “We discussed it with the contractors. I told them I don’t want to see equipment just sitting there, so we kept (the park) open as long as we could.”
But once construction began, the town had no choice but to close the park. Because there is no place to park while construction is going on, visitors would have to use the town hall’s parking lot and cross Stallings Road to get to the few areas in the park not being worked on, which Sabinske said is too dangerous.
“There’s no safe parking around, for what (speeds) people drive (on Stallings Road),” Sabinske said. “We were very anxious about moms going across the road with strollers and all that, so we decided the best thing would be to close it.”
Despite the delays, construction seems to be moving along at the expected pace, Sabinske said. The town hopes to have the project completed and the park re-opened by mid-August, she added.
Phase two includes doubling the parking lot, expanding the playground for kids ages 5 to 12, adding a large picnic shelter, purchasing a new merry-go-round and relocating some of the recycled playground equipment. Once the phase is completed, the town plans to offer walking clubs, tennis classes and yoga in the park.
The town completed the first phase of the project earlier this year, which nearly tripled the size of the park, expanding it to encompass 9 acres. A new stage and band shell for live music were constructed, new piping was installed and open fields were added so visitors could play Frisbee, kick a soccer ball or fly a kite.
But the main attraction of the new park is the water fountain. The first phase created a circular area where gallons of water are pumped into the air. Visitors will be able to have a wet and wild time, running through the fountain and cooling off in the hot summer weather. The fountain was up and running for only a short time before the park closed for the second phase.
Both phases cost the town about $2.25 million, Sabinske said. While town officials worked to get citizens the amenities they desired, being careful with taxpayers’ money also was an important goal. “If something could be taken out to stay within budget, I try to take that out,” Sabinske said. “It’s our taxpayers’ money we’re working with. Things that can be added later, we’re probably taking out. We try to stay very mindful of that.”
Sabinske hopes to open the park as soon as possible so the public can enjoy the new amenities, especially the fountain. “I want it as much as everybody else,” she said. “It’s a crying shame that it’s closed right now, so we are diligently working to get it open as quickly and safely as we can.”
After the second phase is completed, no immediate construction plans are planned. Sabinske said the town is working on securing a grant for a small wooded zone the town plans to turn into a more natural area with some picnic tables as well as opportunities for nature education.