City eyes

An opportunity to acquire four properties in the area of Stonebridge Park was revisited in Thursday’s Fayetteville Board of Mayor and Aldermen work session as officials asked questions, shared their views and discussed ideas as to how the sites might be used.

Located on Kraft Avenue, a street over from the park, the properties could be acquired for total of approximately $180,000, said Chris Mitchell, director of parks and recreation, noting that the city had been approached by owners. The inquiry was first discussed in the board’s February work session.

Saying his top priority would be parking, Mitchell and board members weighed in on other ways the properties might be used. In addition to parking, they also discussed using existing structures on the properties to house the Warrior Exhibit or as a temporary greenway information center. A changing area for bridal parties renting the park as a wedding venue was another option also discussed.

“We had 10 weddings last year in that park when the weather was nice, and we had a lot of people not rent it for a wedding because they had no where for the bridal party to get ready,” said Mitchell. “We would be able to have a higher rental price if that building could be used for a changing area.”

While officials generally agreed that they would like to see the park grow, officials differed to some degree on what they’d like to see occur.

“My issue is that it’s off the park,” said Alderman Jeff Alder. “Those four houses are not on the street facing the park, and I know we need parking, but with them being off the main area and over by themselves, I’ve got an issue with that.”

“Personally, I think we should acquire any property, because we are landlocked in that park,” said Alderman Donna Hartman, noting that a portion of the property could be used for parking and another portion for green space. She added that the Warrior Exhibit needs to be an area with greater foot traffic and said the recreation center, which currently houses the exhibit, should be used more for recreational purposes.

“We don’t have a lot of land there to grow this park, and if we don’t grow it with every piece of land we can possibly get, I think we are hurting ourselves,” she added, emphasizing the anticipated growth as Camp Blount Historic Site develops.

“I was in the hopes that we were going to expand the green space,” said Alderman Tonya Allen, going on to say the properties’ intended uses should be determined and that one of the peripheral properties could be used for parking.

 “We’re hurting really bad for parking down there,” said Alderman Danny Bryant, later adding that a more definite plan needs to take shape before the board considers moving forward. “If we’re going to spend $180,000, I want to know what we’re going to do with it.”

Vice Mayor Dorothy Small questioned the availability of other properties adjacent to the park, as well as the need for any additional costs, such as demolition and/or renovation, before proceeding. The source of funding would also need to be identified, she said.

Mayor Michael Whisenant asked whether the Warrior Exhibit had been asked for its input, and with that answer being no, he said that committee should certainly be contacted for its input. Board members agreed to defer the issue to the board’s April work session as more information is gathered.

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