WESLEY CHAPEL – Residents of Wesley Chapel will soon have a recreational space to call their own.
Wesley Chapel Mayor Brad Horvath, the village council and the Park and Recreation Committee will host the grand opening of Dogwood Park on July 12, a Saturday. The event will feature recreation activities including a fishing tournament coordinated by Riley’s Catch, a fishing club that honors high schooler Riley Laymon.
Dogwood Park was named after the “gorgeous dogwood trees throughout the park,” Horvath said. Although he is disappointed the opening is after the dogwoods have already bloomed, Horvath hopes the trees will attract arborists from all over.
The village council has made efforts to create a park for Wesley Chapel for more than five years. After the first location fell through because of safety hazards, the council found a 22.6-acre parcel at the corner of Lester Davis Road and N.C. 84.
“We have been working on this parcel for the past four years,” Horvath said.
Leaders wanted to ensure the village did not have any debt through building the park, so the village council carefully selected appropriate bids from contractors before construction started last year. The village used its general fund and received a N.C. Park and Recreation Trust Fund grant for $500,000 to develop the park.
“It’s a way for us to make good use of taxpayers’ dollars,” Horvath said.
Council has worked with a park architect and the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission throughout construction to make sure to provide amenities without harming the environment, Horvath said. The Wildlife Commission also donated a fishing pier for the lake.
Completion of the park also would not have been possible without the numerous volunteers, such as the Wesley Chapel Friends of Park & Rec and Girl and Boy Scouts, among others, Horvath said.
Many residents said Mike Como, Wesley Chapel’s mayor pro temp, was a major component in the completion of the park. Como has been at the park site almost every day for the past month working to complete the labor needed for the grand opening.
Como gives credit to multiple volunteers and said many of the “little projects” were made possible because of Girl and Boy Scout troops, such as Girl Scout Troop 1880, who built a reading garden with donated materials and flowers.
Volunteers worked every Saturday throughout the month of June to clear away dead trees and other debris as well as pave the trails around the park, Sondra Bradford, president of Wesley Chapel Friends of Parks & Rec, an affiliate of Partners for Parks, said. Bradford said the volunteer organization “worked hand-in-hand with the Wesley Chapel Park and Rec Committee.”
“There have been many people who have worked countless hours for the past six years,” Bradford said. “This is truly a community labor of love. I am thrilled to see it come together.”
“Its gratifying to see the energy and effort put in by these folks,” Horvath added.
Orlando Construction, the general contractor, has completed its work as of Thursday, June 26; thus, “substantial completion has been achieved” and the remaining tasks are Boy Scout projects and aesthetic components, Como said.
The “passive park” features recreational activities, such as a walking trail, amphitheater, lake and bike trails, and has handicapped-accessible tables, grills and paths.
“We don’t have baseball fields or soccer fields … or anything like that,” Como said. “It’s just a good place to come and relax and walk. It’s a nice place for people to meet and hang out.”
Como said the park is open to anyone in the surrounding area, not just Wesley Chapel residents.
“I am hoping that it will be a wonderful place for Wesley Chapel and the surrounding area to come together,” Bradford said. “It provides recreation opportunity for the community and for the town to congregate.”
The village plans to hold four to six musical performances in the park this year. Horvath also said the council plans to build a dog park in Dogwood Park in the next building phase.
The grand opening will take place at 121 Lester Davis Road from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.