Wednesday, 11 October 2017 08:48

Chaloner improvements would be first priority in 158 plan

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Residents study the Chaloner plan. Residents study the Chaloner plan.

Improvements to Chaloner Recreation Center would be the first priority in a Highway 158 corridor plan, city officials said at a forum Tuesday night.

Part of the plan includes removing the failing pool at the recreation center and replacing it with a splash pad, said Derrick Williams of Benesch, a site planning and landscape architecture firm in Charlotte.

Preliminary conceptual plans for the park include a new playground away from a flood-prone creek, a new shelter near the recreation center, a new shelter near where the splash pad would be and new parking.

There is also a proposal to relocate the basketball court outside the immediate park area and put it along the Dixie Street entrance along with adding new parking, which would provide a more spacious park, Williams said.

Some of the residents attending the forum were skeptical of that plan.

The forum comes after council determined in August its funding options for a new pool at Chaloner were all but exhausted.

The city has discussed the master plan in the past and its approval is a key part of the process in seeking grants from Kate B. Reynolds and the Parks and Recreation Trust Fund.

The one item Kate B. Reynolds does not fund is pool repairs or new pool construction, Parks and Recreation Director John Simeon has said. Pools do not score high enough with the Parks and Recreation Trust Fund to be valid.

Councilman Carl Ferebee, who had fought for pool repairs at Chaloner, said he is generally pleased with the plans although he’s not happy with plans to move the basketball court.

Overall, he said, “I think the people I represent can accept the pool is too expensive to build and some alternative to the pool may fit.”

With grant funding for a pool out of the question, resident Margaret Clark asked about the possibility of new multipurpose center.

Williams responded, “It would require more parking … I’m not so sure it’s the proper place.”

Two other parks are included in the conceptual planning for improving areas in the Highway 158 corridor.

Williams described Martin Luther King Park off Virginia Street “as a very nice space as it is right now. We want to make it better.”

Conceptual plans for the park show a new concrete walk, pavers with King quotes in the area of the statue along with benches. The conceptual plans also show adding shade and ornamental trees.

Wheeler Park sits off Shell Street and plans show removing the existing playground and moving it closer to Thomas Street with the addition of screening. Plans show a new shelter and new parking area.

The basketball court, which the neighborhood in the past has asked to be removed due to complaints of vandalism, would be removed.

An informal play lawn would be created with the relocation of the existing playground equipment.

Simeon said the city won’t move forward with grant applications until the masterplan is completed.

The next step will be to present the plans to city council for their review and then come back shortly after to adopt the masterplan.

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