On Tuesday night the Walnut Cove Board of Commissioners got a first look at an initial site plan for Fowler Park, which the town hopes to upgrade sometime in the future.
A few months ago the board voted to have a professional site plan done of the wooded property across from Fowler Park and near the Boy Scout Hut off of Fifth Street. The plan was needed to apply for a PARTF grant to place a playground or recreation area on the property.
Preston Montague of Stimmel Associates attended the Tuesday night meeting to present the plan to the board. He envisions the park upgrade as an opportunity to celebrate more traditional village life while bringing together people of all ages. The plan uses “nature as inspiration.”
The park would include a play environment based on natural and cultural history, which could include things like play equipment in the shape of farm equipment and rock formations as climbing sites.
A quarter-mile greenway would wind through the park connecting the amenities, which would all be ADA compliant. There would also be a “senior fitness center” which would consist of outdoor workout machines. Nearby would be a cornhole and horseshoe station and a fire pit. A ropes course made out of pine logs could be used by Boy Scouts, the fire department and others for training. That could even be built by local craftsmen, Montague noted.
A rain garden would absorb some storm run-off and help prevent erosion, and new bridges would be constructed.
These elements would make the upgraded park look completely unique and “entirely Walnut Cove,” Montague said.
Town Commissioner Sharon Conaway asked if they had any cost estimates for this proposal yet. Town Manager Byron Ellis said they were being put together and the board should have them soon.
“This has grown exponentially from what we first talked about,” Ellis noted. He said it was a result of meetings with PARTF. Those state grants are given out strictly on a points system. The park plans have been geared to get the most points as possible. The grant, if received, could bring in up to a few hundred thousand dollars, but would require a match in-kind from the town. Ellis said if you go for a PARTF grant, you might as well get as much as you can.
Any future efforts to apply would require a lot of community input. “This isn’t just a slap it together deal here,” said Ellis.
He said Stimmel Associates gave the site plan a great framework, but that the plan will probably go through many incarnations. Even if the town did receive a PARTF grant, it would have three years to spend the money.
“So there are lots of options,” Ellis remarked.