More outdoor facilities for activities such as baseball, along with indoor venues such as a running/walking track and a climbing wall, are cited as “unmet needs” in Mount Airy in a recreation master plan unveiled Friday.
The 159-page document also recommends improvements to Reeves Community Center, and suggests the conversion of Westwood Park from a community to a “district” facility that would include greatly enlarging the park.
Two other recommendations include an “identified opportunity” to develop a mini-park in downtown Mount Airy in the block housing the U.S. Postal Service, of which the city government now owns a portion along Cherry Street.
That would allow the site to be an urban center to anchor community festivals and other events sponsored by the city, according to the new study.
The master plan further recommends that Veterans Memorial Park on West Lebanon Street be studied for possible acquisition or lease for a city-operated community park. It notes that this would require site improvements there for parking, lighting and athletic fields as well as making the park universally accessible and upgrades to playground equipment, picnic shelters and restrooms.
Along with running/walking, indoor facilities for soccer and tennis are needed, according to the study.
More recreational opportunities being available during evening hours is another need identified in the master plan.
It also states that additional resources will be needed in the future to serve the specific recreational needs of the city’s aging population, along with more employees in its parks and recreation operation.
District Park Proposal
About 50 to 100 acres would be needed for the district park mentioned in the study, which is also tied to a proposed indoor recreation center/sports complex sought for Mount Airy, according to plan documents.
They state that the city owns undeveloped land adjoining the boundaries of Westwood Park which could be used for an expansion.
But while Westwood Park should be given first consideration for that project, other city-owned parcels also should be eyed, the master plan recommends.
It calls for the commissioning of a feasibility study for such a complex.
Financing availability will be a key in bringing these and other projects to fruition, the master plan acknowledges.
Among the possible revenue sources it lists are the creation of an annual “household fee,” the development of public-private partnerships for park facilities, participation fees, increased municipal funding, parks and recreation bonds and a room occupancy tax to support recreation.
The expense of developing the district park, for example, will require creative financing to bring the project to fruition, study documents state.
Citizens Can Review Plan
The Mount Airy Board of Commissioners voted last August to spend $35,000 to have W.K. Dickson & Co., a Raleigh consulting firm, update an existing recreation master plan that was then 10 years old and considered outdated.
It is expected to guide the municipality’s recreational future for the next 10 years. Officials have said the cost of the updated plan should pay for itself, since having it in hand will enhance Mount Airy’s chances of receiving grant funding for improvements targeted.
The new plan was developed in recent months through a process that included members of the consulting firm holding a series of meetings last year to gain public input as well as compiling results of a survey on community recreation desires.
Citizens have a chance to review the document Tuesday from 3 to 6 p.m. in the downstairs conference room at the Municipal Building.
Representatives from W.K. Dickson & Co. and members of the city recreation staff will be available to answer questions and receive feedback.
“The public is encouraged to attend and may drop in at any time between 3 p.m. and 6 pm. next Tuesday,” according to city Parks and Recreation Director Catrina Alexander.
Suggestions made are expected be incorporated into final master plan documents to be presented to the city commissioners in September.
Reach Tom Joyce at 719-1924 or email@example.com.