INDIAN TRAIL – Voting for Indian Trail’s park bond doesn’t take place until November, but town staff are already working to collect feedback from the public on what community members would like to see as the town works toward constructing two municipal parks.
The town already held several public meetings with different homeowners associations and is currently in conversation with a handful of others, hoping to schedule more meetings over the next couple of months. Two meetings are scheduled next month for Sept. 26 at 7 p.m. at the Brookhaven subdivision and Sept. 27 at 6 p.m. at the Bent Creek subdivision.
The meetings will be two-hour open house sessions, where community members can ask questions, meet staff and pick up information to take home and share with others.
The town has been intent on working closely with Indian Trail residents on the parks and believes HOAs are the best places to start reaching out to the public. “We’re trying to go to them to get the information out rather than asking them to come to us,” Kelly Barnhardt, director of community and economic development for the town of Indian Trail, said. “All (meetings) are public meetings (and open to) anyone in the community.”
In June, the council approved placing an $8.5 million Parks & Recreation Bond Referendum on the November 2012 ballot by a 4-1 vote. Indian Trail residents will get the chance to vote on whether the council should use the $8.5 million to create two large municipal parks in addition to the town’s current smaller one, or redistribute the money elsewhere. A majority vote would allow the town to move forward with the parks’ construction.
Some residents were worried the two parks would lead to higher taxes, but the council voted earlier this month not to raise taxes if the bond passes. Instead, the capital reserve fund (created by this summer’s 4-cent tax increase) and town funds will cover the bond.
“The council had voted there will be no tax increase if (the bond) is passed,” Town Manager Joe Fivas said. “The money (will come) from the current budget. Residents are deciding if they want 200 acres of park or not. Their taxes aren’t going to go up if they want that.”
The first large community park would lie on 51 acres of land located near Indian Trail Road and U.S. 74. The property allows for a large playground, pavilions, a dog park, a disc golf course, sand volleyball courts, athletic fields and a large network of walking trails. In addition, the park also would contain Carolina Courts, which will lend its facility to park-goers free of charge during specified volleyball and basketball events.
The second park, located near Sardis Elementary and Unionville Indian Trail Road, would span 140 acres and allow for a softball and baseball complex and multi-use fields for soccer, lacrosse and football. Other amenities would include multiple playgrounds and pavilions, a dog park, a potential water feature and possible turf fields for year-round use as well as likely a greenway trail.
Fivas said the town is gathering feedback early so staff can proceed to finalize plans and break ground on the parks sometime in mid-2013. If the bond passes, he hopes to have at least one of the phases completed and the parks open by early spring 2014. “If the bond passes, our council has been clear that they would want to begin as soon as possible moving dirt in those parks,” he said.
The town is welcoming and valuing the public’s information while laying out the plans for the park, public information officer Rebecca Carter said. Staff want to know the things community members are looking for in parks, how the town can improve upon the plans and what may have been missed or overlooked. “We’re trying to meet as many of the community needs as we can designing these two parks,” she said.
Citizen group organizes against park bond
Not everyone is pleased with the idea of using $8.5 million to build the two parks. Indian Trail resident Mark Wireman has organized a referendum committee that’s been vocally opposing the town’s decision to create the bond referendum.
Wireman recently announced Bonterra resident Brian Rogers as an addition to his team. Rogers, who has lived in Indian Trail with his family since 2004 and served as chairman of the Union County Board of Adjustment, currently serves on the Union County Fire Commission.
“Like many residents of Indian Trail, I moved here because of the great location and because of lower taxes,” Rogers said in a news release. “Our federal, state and now local governments continue to push us toward more and more debt. Parks really aren’t the issue; rather, we now have been force-fed more debt even though voters defeated a park bond not more than nine months ago (on the November 2011 ballot). We need to improve infrastructure, primarily roads, before we pile up more debt for parks.”
Wireman is pleased to bring Rogers on board and plans to continue “to educate Indian Trail voters on the facts about this proposed bond” and to work to see that the park bond doesn’t pass.