Work starts soon on Chestnut Parkway project

INDIAN TRAIL – Work should start in the next few weeks on a road project that could eventually be key in bringing more economic development to Indian Trail, as well as bring big traffic relief for area drivers.

Construction of part one of the Chestnut Parkway project was awarded recently to Blythe Development for roughly $1.5 million. The work will include adding rouhly 2,000 feet of road, doing grading and landscaping work and building sidewalks between Matthews-Indian Trail Road and the back edge of the 51 acres of town-owned property that will start transforming into the new Chestnut Park and home of Carolina Courts this year. The next phase of the
project involves extending the parkway out to U.S. 74, which will take pressure off Indian Trail Road and provide quicker access from the busy U.S. 74 corridor to the park and Carolina Courts, as well as any other projects that spring up over the next few years to take advantage of the town’s road project.

“This project’s been talked about for years,” said Chris King, an Indian Trail town council member and advocate of both the Chestnut park and parkway. “We’re just at the very beginning of this, but the first leg is a very significant portion because it could potentially draw in hotels and economic development.”

The economic development issue is a big one for Indian Trail, as the town works to widen its tax base and get away from relying too heavily on residential property taxes. King and others hope businesses pop up along Chestnut Parkway in the mostly vacant land between the park and U.S. 74. While leaders feel a hotel and restaurants may be attracted to Carolina Courts – an indoor sports center – and the park, there’s also hopes that a business park could be developed, taking advantage of the proximity to U.S. 74.

So town leaders opted to try spending a little money to make a little money, investing the $1.5 million for the first part of the parkway from Indian Trail’s recently created capital reserve fund. The reserve is funded by last summer’s 4-cent tax increase, and along with funding the parkway project and other road and sidewalk projects, will help pay off the $8.5 million bond needed to build Chestnut Park and Sardis Park starting this year.

Work should get under way soon on the two parks, as Indian Trail looks to hire a project manager to coordinate the projects by the end of January. Chestnut Park, the smaller of the two parks and split in two by Matthews-Indian Trail Road, is expected to include the town’s community center, where a new town hall could be built, as well as a dog park and playground in addition to the Carolina Courts property.

Town council approved rezoning land in a corner of their park property this week to make way for Carolina Courts, which is moving to avoid construction of the Monroe Bypass, if that project ever comes to fruition. Carolina Courts officials would like to start construction soon in hopes of opening by July 1, with summer being a busy time of year for the sports complex. Blythe Development, for its part, also should start preliminary grading work in the next few weeks if the company can obtain the necessary permits from the state. The timeline on the two projects will coincide at least for the first few months, though King was clear when speaking Thursday, Jan. 10, that  Chestnut Parkway is more than just about Carolina Courts. Leaders have their eyes on the bigger picture of this part of Indian Trail eventually becoming a key economic hub for the rapidly growing town.

“There’s going to be a lot of hurdles we’ll have to overcome,” King said about finishing the project all the way out to U.S. 74. “… (but) I can honestly say now that the Chestnut Parkway is about to begin.”

Town leaders also this week continue discussions relating to the soon-to-expire agreement between Indian Trail and the Union County Sheriff’s Office for protection. The sheriff’s office currently assigns 21 deputies to the town, but the two sides are now at work to approve a new agreement before the old one expires this summer. Council members have sent their thoughts on what they’d like to see included in a new agreement to the town manager, Joe Fivas, and the town expects to get feedback from the sheriff’s office in the next week about how to move forward on a new agreement.

If for some reason the two sides do not come to an agreement prior to the agreement running out, Indian Trail may be forced to establish its own police force. The town currently pays nearly $2 million a year to the sheriff’s office.

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