by Heather Wood
On December 22, 2017, the Town of Kernersville and its citizens received a remarkable gift from local business owner and citizen, Scott Pope. His generous donation of 79.4 acres of land will be the future site of the Etta Lea Lawrence Pope Memorial Park. It has been almost a year, and we want the public to be informed of its progress since this generous gift was made.
On Friday, June 14, 2018, Kernersville Parks and Recreation hosted an Open House at the park offering the public the opportunity to voice what amenities they would like to see at the new park. In appreciation of the public interest, we offered free hot air balloon rides and an on-site food truck. Participants were asked to vote for different types of amenities, which were arranged under specific categories. These categories included trails, playgrounds, lake, amusements, gardens, structures and buildings, and many more. The idea was to offer an “a la cart” menu of amenities for the community to choose from and narrow down what the park could become.
After tallying the results of 150 participants, a general site conceptual design was created. These designs, created by the architect company, Stewart, includes interactive areas, unique experiences, specialized services, and additional strategies that the architects have identified on the property. Our Director, Ernie Pages, is meeting with Civic and Community based groups, to continue gathering input and refining the plan.
As more input was collected and we further refined the plan, two distinct themes emerged in relation to the park. This signaled the need to hold another public input session and unveil the two conceptual plans. The first plan is more active: Peddle, Play and Picnic and the other more passive: Retreat, Reflect and Recreate. On Friday, October 5, 2018, we held the event “Fireworks in the Fall” at the site. Participants were given a ticket to vote on which themed conceptual plan they liked the best as well as their top favorite amenities on either plan. All the information gathered from this event, and in the future, will merge the most popular amenities within the most popular themed concept. In addition to voting, participants enjoyed chicken stew and a firework show.
With the help of the public, we now are working on our first draft of what the proposed park will look like. In the spring, we will hold one more public input session. Stewart then will collect the input and data to create a Master Plan. The Board of Alderman will then vote on this plan, which will include cost estimates and a possible phasing plan for the future park. We want to thank everyone who has been involved so far with this project and are very excited to see it continue to grow!
Continuing with the theme of recognition, some of our staff attended the NCRPA Parks and Recreation Conference-History Meets Innovation in Winston-Salem last month. NCRPA Parks and Recreation is a vital component of communities in North Carolina. Parks and Recreation creates economic impact, positive influence on physical and mental health; increased property values and opportunities for persons of all abilities, interests and economic status. NCRPA is dedicated to supporting parks and recreation professionals in our state through quality professional development and training opportunities. Our role as advocates for the profession allows us to share the facts, figures and impact of the work our profession does and how it helps the people and places across our state.
During the conference, one of our own staff, Victoria Musumeci, was awarded the Young Professional Award for the State of North Carolina. Victoria is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and has been in the recreation profession since January 2016. She started as an intern with us and has taken on the role as our Administrative Specialist. During her time with us she has achieved many successes including being a liaison with area universities in working with internship programs, holding positions on the UNCG Profession Advisory Committee and the NCRPA Young Professionals Committee, and recently received her Certified Parks and Recreation Professional Certification. We are all very proud of her and her accomplishments and what she brings to our department. Victoria can only be described as a “Rock Star” and this award is well deserved.
A joint nomination was also presented to Nicole Donoghue and the Declan Donoghue Foundation by the Parks and Recreation Departments of Kernersville, Greensboro and High Point. The Foundation was awarded a Special Citation Award for her work and contributions to our region in memory of her son, Declan. This foundation seeks to carry on the memory of Declan and the spirit of play by helping to fund and build “Declan’s Playgrounds” for children in North Carolina’s Piedmont Triad area. There are now five total parks in our area, with two being right here in Kernersville. Harmon Park and the Ivey M. Redmon Sports Complex by the ball fields. Every May, Nicole holds a 5k and Kids Fun Run in Harmon Park, called Declan’s Dash, to raise money to continue to build playgrounds throughout the Triad. We are very grateful and honored to know Nicole and want to continue to share in fulfilling her mission.
This has been quite a month of accomplishments! We are always striving to make ourselves more informed and knowledgeable to better serve our little town that we all like to call home. Our offices will be closed on Monday, November 12, in observance of the Veteran’s Day holiday. We will also be closed Thursday and Friday, November 22 and 23, for the Thanksgiving holiday. We hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving spent with family and friends!