Proposed Changes to Downtown Park Carry $7.5 Million Cost
Full implementation of a redesigned Downtown Park in Southern Pines will cost an estimated $7.5 million, with most of that going to a new three-story municipal building.
A proposed budget submitted to the Southern Pines Town Council at its monthly work session Monday divides the project into eight areas, shows an estimate of the probable construction cost in each area, and includes a design and construction contingency of 25 percent.
“We wanted to provide as much flexibility as we could so the town could look at options,” said Bob Koontz, director of land planning for Hobbs Upchurch Associates. “I see a lot of ways to get funded by public and private entities.”
The municipal building, if constructed, carries an estimated cost of $5.5 million. It would likely include public meeting space, council chambers, town office space, and a speech and performance terrace in the back.
“We realized from the get-go that this building was going to be controversial, and it has been,” said Lynn Anderson, of Anderson Architecture. “We want this building to be somewhat iconic, but not in an institutional way. We’re also seeing it as an amenity to the park, not a detriment.”
Anderson said “a clock tower or other vertical element” could set the building apart.
“This plan gives us the opportunity to dream a little big,” she said.
Koontz noted that the budget was in a “very preliminary” stage.
“But they’re good ballpark numbers. They provide a starting point,” he said.
Council member Mike Fields said having the cost broken out by area “makes it easier to swallow.”
“It’s a good-looking plan,” Fields said. “This shows that the municipal building isn’t necessarily needed for this to be a great park.”
Council member Chris Smithson said the plan does a “great job of addressing the many needs of this community.”
“It’s not tailored to anyone and provides something for everyone,” Smithson said.
Koontz, Anderson and Vince Zucchino, of Vince Zucchino Associates, put the plan together over the past 18 months while seeking feedback from numerous people throughout the process.
The plan focuses on creating more green space. But it also calls for realignment of the basketball and tennis courts, replacing the Rainey shelter, adding a splash pad, building an entertainment pavilion, and creating walkways, among other new features and improvements.
“There’s no reason to think that all of these elements won’t work,” Zucchino said.
The planners and town officials envision musical, theatrical and other events for either the green space, the pavilion or the terrace.
Speculation about the Down-town Park’s future has gone on since 2006, when the town’s old municipal building on Broad Street was demolished. The one-story building had been constructed in the 1950s.
The town originally planned to build a new two-story municipal complex on the site of the old one. It was to include a police station, meeting chambers and administrative offices.
Architects came up with several designs for a new complex, but none were accepted by town leaders or residents. They argued that the building was too big and not in harmony with the surrounding residential area or the downtown.
The park is bound by Broad and Ashe streets and Pennsylvania and New York avenues. On-site amenities include a playground, the tennis and basketball courts, the Rainey shelter, public restrooms and a town administration building.
The tennis courts would be relocated toward Ashe, be separated by fencing for more private play, and include new lighting and a spectator overlook. The basketball courts will both run perpendicular to Broad.
Town Manager Reagan Parsons, whose office is in the administration building, said the plan could be adopted by the Town Council at its Nov. 13 meeting, and public input will be accepted until then.
“Once the plan is adopted we can look at the money side,” Parsons said.
He added that while there is no money for park improvements in the 2012-2013 town budget, previous discussion by the council has indicated that funds might be transferred before June 30 to begin the project.
“We’re certainly excited with the possibilities that this plan brings,” he said. “Now the challenge becomes fitting the cost into future budgets while continuing to maintain other town facilities and services.”
Contact Ted M. Natt Jr. at (910) 693-2474 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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