Lake Norman & Mooresville

Get a sneak peek of new county park

Mecklenburg County residents can get a sneak peek of the newest county park as well as offer their vision for it during the annual Nature Festival on Nov. 6.

The Davidson Lands Conservancy, which is sponsoring the event in conjunction with its annual meeting, is also holding a campaign for people to submit possible names for the park.

"The infrastructure that already exists on the property makes it possible to have this kind of public sneak peek. It typically isn't possible when it's just a piece of privately owned land that they acquired," said Roy Alexander, executive director of the Davidson Lands Conservancy.

The county approved the acquisition of the failed Abersham development, on Grey Road north of River Run Country Club, for $3.7 million in August.

Mecklenburg County closed on the purchase of 243 acres of the development Oct. 14, said Jim Garges, director of Mecklenburg County Parks and Recreation.

When construction started in early 2008, the property was expected to become one of the area's high-end neighborhoods. Instead, the development was foreclosed after the housing market crashed.

Garges said the county will begin working on a master plan for the site in early 2012. For now, the county is taking suggestions from residents.

He stressed that the park will be used for passive recreation, such as walking and bird watching. It will not likely have a sports complex or athletic fields.

The amount of active recreational amenities the land can have is limited by a conservation easement.

In 2006, real estate developer Frank Jacobus agreed to give the Davidson Lands Conservancy a 100-acre conservation easement, meeting the town of Davidson's development ordinance requirement.

The agreement ensured the protection of those 100 acres from being developed.

While a Master Plan for the park is still months away, Garges said, he expects to open the park for public use soon.

But first, the county needs to ensure the trails are safe and add electronic gates to open and close the park, among other things, he said.

During the nature festival in early November, residents can participate in such activities as bird walks and making pine-cone bird feeders.

Visitors will also be able to see county officials unveil the new park sign.

While the sign may just be a placeholder initially, residents are already talking about what the park should be named.

"Abersham was a developer's name. It doesn't have any significance to the area," said Garges. "So we'll be looking to the people who live around here for suggestions."

Here are some of the suggestions Alexander has received:

Eden.

Fisher Farm Park Phase 2.

Frank's Folly.

Knox Park, after the longtime Davidson family. Russell Knox was a former mayor of the town for many years, and several family members operated Knox Realty before it joined Allen Tate.

John Kuykendall Park, after the most recent president at Davidson College.

Citizens Preserve or Peoples Preserve.

Economy Park.

Abersham Park.

Phoenix Park.

Foreclosure Park.

W.H. Johnson Park. Johnson was the father of Frances Martin and Arthur Johnson, who formerly owned the land.

Davidson Park.

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