MATTHEWS – Area residents want to see nature trails, trees and more passive uses at a proposed park in Matthews, according to a discussion held this weekend.
Nearly 100 community members came together on Saturday, June 21, to voice their ideas and concerns for the proposed park at 3025 N.C. 51, between Idlewild and Phillips roads, in Matthews. The town is leasing the property from Charlotte-Mecklenburg Parks and Recreation and will oversee the development of the property.
The county has dictated one requirement for the property in that it must be at least 50 percent passive – to allow for things such as trails, wooden area, open space and more. But that will be no problem for Matthews residents, as most of them spoke in favor of a passive park.
“Just from the people I was able to speak to, there were some central things like traffic on N.C. 51 (and) a desire to have as much left natural as possible,” Corey King, director of Matthews Parks and Recreation, said of residents’ concerns following the meeting.
Residents at the meeting also mentioned elements like a spray ground, mountain biking courses and horse riding trails they’d like to see included at the park.
Town leaders currently do not have a timeline or funding plan in place for the project, although planning is already underway. The town will have a better idea of how much funding is needed to bring the park to fruition once plans are developed, King said.
The park, which is about 100 acres, also could provide space for a future school or fire department to serve the town, Matthews Mayor Jim Taylor said at the meeting, although there are no current plans for either to be developed. Some community members raised concerns about traffic such developments could bring to N.C. 51, an already congested area that many hope to see improved in the future.
“We are working with the state to get (N.C.) 51 improved,” Taylor said.
Regardless of concerns, town staff and Matthews residents want, most importantly, for this park to be exactly what is needed in the community.
“This is a great opportunity to get (the residents) thoughts and make it (their) park,” a representative from Stewart, Inc., the consulting firm hired to draw up plans for the park , said. “We want this to be a community park for a five-mile service area.”
The property already has a large portion of area cleared, which was previously used for farming, and a large wooded area. Stewart, Inc., plans to utilize the already cleared area before tearing trees down.
“Leave this (park) as passive as possible,” one Matthews resident said at the meeting. “Leave as many trees as possible.”
Many residents wrote down thoughts, comments and ideas while at the meeting that town staff, along with the consulting firm, is currently working to compile, King said. The firm will use the ideas gathered at the meeting to develop three possible plans for the park that will be presented at a later meeting. The next meeting to discuss the park has not been scheduled, but King said it will likely take place in about a month or so.
The Matthews Police Department has been using the property for weapons training – with no live ammunition being used – and could lease out the area that was previously used for farming until development begins at the park. No hunting will be allowed on the property.
Town staff also is looking at some additional pieces of property near the site to purchase and increase the size of the park. Negotiations are currently underway for some lots adjacent to the park site, Taylor said.
A presentation will be made to the Matthews Board of Commissioners following the community meeting regarding three proposed options for the park. Town leaders must approve the final proposed plan before development begins.