Council soon to tour neighborhoods promoting parks projects
by Mike Parks
INDIAN TRAIL – It was just a few weeks ago that a few members of Indian Trail’s town council were lamenting the fact that there weren’t enough parks around to keep residents happy. It’s looking like that won’t be the case much longer.
The town was expected to approve buying 147 acres of land along South Fork Crooked Creek, north of U.S. 74, on Thursday night, July 19.
Town council member Chris King already has dreams for what he’d do with the 147 acres if it were his decision. He’s ready to see greenway trails throughout the 147 acres, specifically along the creek area where a number of trails already exist. The area also could be home to an 18-hole disc golf course and nature area.
But the bigger piece of the park’s puzzle is a potential baseball and softball complex that could be big enough to lure in regional tournaments and become an economic boost for the town. The land also would be home to a number of soccer fields, according to early plans for the park.
Such a complex would likely mean the addition of hotels and restaurants around the complex to support teams coming in for tournaments and could prove a big benefit to the local tax base.
The entrance to the park would be from Oakwood Lane, and the town has been guaranteed right of way to the property despite some residents living near the park’s boundary. Those residents have expressed some concern over safety with people coming into the park on what now is a very secluded road.
But it could be that the park only comes to fruition if voters follow through in November on something they already voted against once. Indian Trail voters didn’t approve a 4.5 million park bond on last November’s ballot, but only by a few votes. The majority on town council hope things will be different this year when voters consider a $8.5 million park bond on this year’s ballot.
That 147-acre Sardis Park would be an addition to what the town hopes to do at the 51-acre Chestnut Park, planned for the area around Carolina Courts off Matthews-Indian Trail Road. But this plan too involves a lot of work before it becomes a reality.
Much of that work involves the Chestnut Connector Road, which would run along Carolina Courts through the edge of the park and connect to Matthews-Indian Trail Road and perhaps even further. The road is vital in getting people into the back of the lot where Carolina Courts and the facility’s parking lots will be. But the road also would play a part in cutting down some traffic on Matthews-Indian Trail Road and giving drivers more access to the park area that would also be home to the Indian Trail community center complex. That spot would possibly include the town hall, a dog park, volleyball courts and more.
If both parks move forward, they’ll join Indian Trail’s current park, Crossing Paths Park. The small lot, which includes some green space and a venue for performances, sits near the town’s current administrative building off Indian Trail Road.
Not all are on board with the plan to develop Indian Trail’s quality of life amenities, such as a park. Especially if that’s being funded with the 4-cent tax increase King proposed earlier this year. The increase passed with the support of the full council, save council member David Waddell.
Waddell has argued money would be better spent on things such as adding more sheriff deputies to the town, though he would have preferred there by no tax increase at all. With the 4-cent increase, Indian Trail’s property tax rate is now at 18.5 cents per $100 of taxable property. It’s still the lowest tax rate for a town this size in North Carolina, but constitutes a 27.5 percent tax increase on residents. For a homeowner in Indian Trail with a $150,000 home, the tax bill would increase by about $5 per month, about $60 a year.
Town staff has said the tax increase, which will raise around $1.18 million a year in revenue for the town, could be used to pay off the $8.5 million park bond over time, in addition to other projects like road work and sidewalk construction.
As for what to do with the 147 acres if voters don’t approve the bond in November? Said King last week, echoing the thoughts of the town’s mayor pro tem, David Cohn: it’s almost too good of a deal to pass up getting that much land for what the town expects to pay for it.