A drawing and cost breakdown were presented to the Rockingham City Council Tuesday night, but no action was taken. City Manager Monty Crump said the first phase would be to spend nearly $1.5 million to provide the roads and infrastructure needed to support the entire project. The plan is to build the park in phases.
“This is the final plan,” City Manager Monty Crump told the board.
Crump said the first phase should include a pod of four youth baseball/softball fields.
“They would handle girls’ softball and Pony League baseball, and that’s where we’re seeing most of the growth in our program,” said John Massey, the city’s planner.
The total plan calls for seven more baseball fields, five soccer fields, a water park and miniature train, two tennis courts and a dog park. The site is located north of Old Aberdeen Road and east of Richmond Road.
The Cole Foundation is providing the $800,000 to acquire the 118 acres which will form the bulk of the park. The plan presented Tuesday includes an additional 18 to 20 acres along the eastern edge of the site. The city is in talks with the owners about buying the land. Without it, two of the four adult-sized baseball/softball fields would have to be eliminated.
“At least we’ve got the final plan and we know what it’s going to look like,” Crump said Wednesday.
Given the economy, Crump believes that if the city had the money to spend right now, it could save 20 to 30 percent of the $16.7 million price tag because contractors are hungry for work.
The city’s plan involves using Bermuda grass sprigs instead of sod to save money. The four 200-foot ballfields alone would require 135,200 of the sprigs which would be planted then allowed to grow.
Some of the elements of the Rockingham plan are based on the model of Sunset Park in Rocky Mount. City officials visited that site and others to get a handle on how other municipalities developed their recreation facilities.
The last amenity added was a fenced-in dog park.
“We had several residents express interest in that, and it’s a pretty common thing in other communities,” Massey said.
One hitch in the plan could be stormwater retention. That could top $750,000, and isn’t included in the plan the board reviewed Tuesday. The city won’t know the cost until it knows how the park will be phased in and plans are approved by the Department of Natural Resources.
“I wanted the board to know that this is kind of out there,” Crump said. “It could be a big ticket item, but we won’t know until the project proceeds.”
Tuesday night Commissioner Steven Morris asked if there would be a public address system for the park. Crump said the system would be digital and easy to use.
“The big question is going to be where we’re going to get the money,” Mayor Pro Tem Bennett Deane said on Wednesday.
The plan breaks down every cost from a cooking grills ($700 each) to bike racks ($900 each) on up to two lighted concrete tennis courts ($100,000) and scoreboards ($7,800 each).
Massey said the city plans to approach the Cole Foundation and Golden LEAF about funding. He also mentioned the Foundation for Richmond County which spends money from the sale of Richmond Memorial Hospital to FirstHealth of the Carolinas.
The Foundation, established in 1993, has limited funding to health related projects, but Massey said recreation could be viewed as improving the health of the community.
“It could take time to get the funding, but at least we know what it will look like and we’ve got most of the land to do it,” Crump said.