County to Provide Open Space Access

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Plans are in the works to give Wake County residents access to some 900 acres of county-owned open space.

During a work session Monday, county staff presented three options that would open up about 900 acres for public use. The county has spent $49 million on acquiring 3,860 acres of open space, but none of that land is open to the public.

Community Services Director Frank Cope presented recommendations that would put some of that acreage to use at Robertson’s Mill Pond, Proctor and Turnipseed. The $2.2 million in construction costs would be funded using money from the 2007 open space bond.

There’s about $13.1 million left to spend from the $50 million bond.

Robertson’s Mill Pond near East Wake High School would be opened for canoeing and kayaking. Paddlers will have to bring their own kayak or canoe, but rentals might be provided in the future.

It will cost the county about $278,000 to open up the park, with about $118,000 going toward site preparation and parking lot construction.

At Proctor, a 6-mile horseback riding trail will be created using existing dirt roads on the still-working farm. Cope said that as the county becomes more urban, more people with horses need a place to ride.

The property is located near where the proposed Little River Reservoir could be constructed.

The trails would be open to walkers and bikers, but the trails themselves would stay unpaved.

“We’re not encouraging people to walk and bike, but we’re not prohibiting it either,” Cope said.

Construction costs would come in at about $773,900.

The third project, Turnipseed, would be the most expensive of the three — at more than $1.1 million — because it involves building boardwalks and trails through an established wetland.

Cope said there is a demand in the community for a nature trail, which is what will be constructed.

Cope said all three parks would only be open on the weekends until staff has a better idea of what the regular demand will be.

“We know there is a demand,” said Cope, but they are not sure the demand is high enough for it to be open every day.

The county will also need to allocate about $60,000 in operating costs for all of the projects starting with next year’s budget.

Greenway Projects
About 20 percent of the 2007 bond has been used to fund greenway connections, but acquiring open space has continued to be the priority.

Staff recommended that about $2.6 million of the remaining funding to be used for greenway connections through unincorporated parts of the county.

In the past, the county has partially funded greenways within the incorporated municipalities. Commissioners agreed that the municipality would be solely responsible for building greenways within its city or town limits and the county would offer funding for connections to other systems.

In response for a request for proposal, three greenway projects were chosen for possible funding.

Cary and Apex have requested funding for the White Oak Creek project, Rolesville for Granite Falls and Wake Forest for Smith Creek.

The county’s portion for all three of these projects comes in at $3.3 million.

The White Oak and Smith creeks projects have portions outside the town limits, whereas the Granite Falls project is completely within Rolesville.

Rolesville no longer qualifies for funding. The board agreed to open up the three parks, and partially fund the greenway projects in Cary-Apex and Wake Forest.

About $448,000 will be allocated toward the greenway projects.

The exact amount the county will be shelling out for each project will be determined after speaking with town officials.

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