City gets donation for future park

Jan. 22, 2013 @ 07:05 PM

A donation from a local business will enable the city to expand the site of a proposed park in southwest High Point.
The City Council on Tuesday voted to accept 5.7 acres from North State Communications that is adjacent to about 50 acres the city has bought for the proposed Westchester Park.
The wooded tract is behind North State’s office on Westchester Drive and has a tax value of about $1.5 million.
The city has spent about $750,000 in bond money approved by voters in 2004 to acquire acreage between Coventry Road and Burton Avenue that is being targeted for development of a park that could include nature trails and playing fields.
“They were just very agreeable and liked the concept of the park being behind their property,” said city Parks and Recreation Director Allen Oliver. “They had no real need for the wooded area behind there.”
The city is seeking proposals from firms interested in developing a master plan for the site — much of it former pastureland that is a mixture of wooded areas, open fields and rolling hills.
Officials said part of the terrain includes a sewer outfall line that runs along a creek — an area that could lend itself to walking or biking trails. The southern portion of the property is flatter, which could allow for more active uses, such as sports fields.
No funds exist for development of a park, and officials have talked about a future bond issue as a possible source of money.
The city’s Parks and Recreation Master Plan in 2007 identified the need for a park in this part of the city.
“I would like to thank North State Communications for their generous gift. They have a long history of being benefactors for this community,” said Councilman Britt Moore. “They’re a great family and a great corporation.”
The park has no name associated with it at this point.
“So we don’t have to name it North State park?” quipped Mayor Bernita Sims.
City officials said they had talked with North State representatives about naming a trail at the site for the company, but there were no naming rights associated with the donation.
“I was about to ask the same thing, Madam Mayor: What do they want in return?” said Councilman Foster Douglas.
Officials said that the company, because it is a utility, is exempt from paying property taxes on the site.
“They will get a write-off for the value of the land, but we don’t actually lose property taxes on this,” said Assistant City Manager Pat Pate. “We’re very excited about this.”