As the weather gets warmer, residents all across southern Mecklenburg are flocking to parks. From baseball to lacrosse, running to mountain bike riding, fishing to disc golf, walking or observing wildlife, festivals to movies and concerts on the lawn, you can find it at a park nearby.
Corey King, director of Matthews Park and Recreation Department, says parks are an important amenity.
“Parks mean different things to different people. Some parks offer physical activity and give children and adults a chance to stay active. Others offer the passive aspect, giving visitors the chance to enjoy nature and green space,” said King.
“Parks can also serve as social gathering places. In Matthews, our park system is certainly valued by the residents.”
To keep up with the ever-increasing demand for outdoor recreational space, leaders in Mint Hill, Matthews and Pineville say more parks are on the way.
Here’s a breakdown, town by town:
Mint Hill currently has two town parks, the 55-acre Veterans Memorial Park located on NC-218 at the I-485 interchange and the 15-acre Park on Wilgrove, located on Wilgrove-Mint Hill Road.
Veterans Memorial Park features a paved track, playground equipment, grass ball fields, tennis courts, a nature trail, a softball field, sand volleyball court, and a disc golf course The Park on Wilgrove features playground equipment, trails and a softball field. Both parks offer shelters and picnic areas that can be reserved.
The town recently purchased land across from the Mint Hill Athletic Association on Brief Road and has plans to build an $8 million dollar athletic park that will include three multi-sport fields, a 750 seat baseball stadium, walking trails, picnic areas and playground.
Mint Hill town manager Brian Welch says permitting is under way for the project.
“Since there is a small amount of wetlands on the property, we have to get federal, state and county permits. Hopefully we will receive those soon and will put the project out for bid in early summer,” said Welch.
The county also owns several tracks of land that Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation director Jim Garges says will be the home for future parks.
“The Stephens Creek Nature Preserve is under design. It will be the first new nature preserve and center that we’ve done in 25 years,” said Garges.
“It is a significant project from a natural resources perspective. It’s really impressive.”
Garges says he expects construction to start on the preserve in late fall and should take about a year to complete.
The county also owns property on N.C. 51 near the Mintwood subdivision designated for a community park that will offer both passive and active activities. Garges says he hopes that project will be included in the county money release for the 2019-2023 budget cycle.
The county also owns land near the intersection of N.C. 218 and Brief Road, but Garges says that property, which is earmarked for another community park, will not be developed until at least 2023.
From disc golf to fishing, concerts to playgrounds, Matthews’ eight town parks offer something for everyone.
The town is also home to the Four Mile Creek greenway, a joint project between the town and Mecklenburg County with 2 miles of walking trails and connectors to multiple greenways; two community gardens; and the to-be-developed 95-acre Purser-Hulsey Park at N.C. 51 and Phillips Road.
The Tarheel Trailblazers, a local mountain bike organization, has already cut 1.6 miles of trails in the woods at that property, and the town is in the process of adding permanent signs.
Matthews park manager Scott Rawls says a ribbon cutting is being planned for late June to officially open the trails, although they can be ridden on now.
A 39-plot community garden is also operational on the site.
King says staff and the Park and Recreation advisory committee are working on plans for the remainder of the Purser-Hulsey Park and hope to present those plans to Matthews Commissioners in late summer.
The Mecklenburg County Sportsplex at Matthews, located off Tanktown Road, is a regional draw offering 9 synthetic turf fields, two grass fields, a 2,500 seat stadium, walking trails, playground and much more. The grand opening ceremony for Phase 2 of the Sportsplex is scheduled for June 17.
The Town of Pineville has two parks with complementary amenities. Jack Hughes Park is a ball park with 2 softball fields, a multi-purpose field, a 250 seat collegiate size baseball stadium, 2 batting cages, walking trails, picnic shelters and a playground.
Lake Park is designed as a community gathering place. The Belle Johnston community center/gymnasium hosts a Mecklenburg County Senior Nutrition program each weekday. The gym offers indoor basketball and a number of other activities.
Outside the Belle Johnston Center is the lake where you can fish, walk the paths, sit under shelters, climb on playground equipment, or enjoy concerts, movies and festivals throughout the year.
Garges says, with the encouragement of Pineville leaders, Mecklenburg County Park and Rec is investing about $3.5 million to extend Little Sugar Creek Greenway through Pineville to the South Carolina line.
Pineville planning director Travis Morgan says the greenway extension will run between downtown on Main Street and Carolina Place Mall. Access points will include Centrum Shopping Center, the mall and the James K. Polk Historic site.
Morgan says the greenway will be a great asset to the town and its residents. When the Pineville leg is complete, he says residents that work in Charlotte can ride bikes from their Pineville homes to downtown Charlotte without leaving the greenway.
Melinda Johnston is a freelance writer: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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