Park with pond on to-do list as city prepares to update parks plan

By Catharin Shepard • Staff writer • A new city park centered around a pond, and more space for sports fields at Robbin Heights Park could be part of discussions as Raeford prepares to update its master parks plan.

The city of Raeford will work with consultants, an advisory committee and seek input from citizens to update the plan for its public parks.

The master plan was last updated in 2017, and the city has done some major work since then: renovating McLaughlin Park, for one. The process will take those updates into account, and create a new master plan that could help the city obtain grant funding for future park improvements.

City Manager Dennis Baxley said the city’s parks advisory board has been meeting on the topic. The city hired LKC consultants to create the revised plan, and they started discussions about two months ago, Baxley said.

Besides crossing off to-do items that have already been completed, the biggest change to the plan is likely to be including a totally new park for future development. The city owns a pond, about 19 acres in size, and has purchased an additional three acres of land adjacent to Highway 20 to go along with it. The new master plan will include a road map for how to develop the property.

“This one is going to include the pond, probably some nature trails, camp sites. Everything is yet to be determined,” Baxley said.

There is a conservation easement around the pond, so there are areas that are restricted as to how the city can use that property, the city manager said. The additional land the city purchased will likely be used to create parking and other amenities for people to be able to access the new park space.

The city plans to seek thoughts from Raeford residents about what people would like to see in their public parks.

“There will be a lot of surveys, community input as well as input from the advisory board,” Baxley said.

Once the plan is completed it could help Raeford apply for funds from various grant programs to do things such as buy new equipment or put in other amenities at the city’s parks.

“A big part of applying for grants is having a master plan,” Baxley said.

Right now, nothing is decided and the parks master plan is very much a work in progress, still open to change as the board works to develop the plan. Baxley said he advised the board, “let’s sit back and wait and see what the public demand is, before we start doing our own planning.”

There is one specific project that the city is considering for the future, but it’s still a way off, the city manager said.

“We are looking at possibly purchasing more property adjacent to Robbins Heights for additional athletics fields, possibly soccer,” Baxley said. The News-Journal will provide further updates once any public surveys are sent out to get citizens’ inpu

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