City eyes more park, public space


Talks include pond property, Ace Plaza parking lot

By Chris Berendt - [email protected]



Councilman Neal Strickland, far left, talks about the city’s potential acquisition of a small pond as Councilman Steve Stefanovich, center, and Mayor Lew Starling listen.


The City of Clinton has several parks for its residents, but is looking into the potential of adding another — this time with a pond attached.

The pond near the intersection of Wilson and Grove streets (in the vicinity of L.C. Kerr School) serves as a stormwater basin for the area, and the cleanliness of the pond and its surroundings has become a concern for some residents and staff. The city provided limited maintenance of the pond in the past although it is private property.

Recently, the current owner approached the city about taking control of the property.

“Staff feels the city could easily maintain the pond and even create a park if the city chooses to acquire an adjoining parcel,” City manager Shawn Purvis said. “If the current owner of the pond is willing to donate it to the city, I recommend City Council consider accepting it so we can ensure its cleanliness and functionality.”

If the city accepts the pond and immediately surrounding land, access would remain limited to a small strip along Wilson Street. An adjacent parcel on Willow Road is currently vacant and Purvis proposed acquiring the parcel to provide access to the pond and create a small park.

“There is a vacant lot off of Willow that could be made into a pocket park, maybe a couple picnic tables and access to the pond,” Purvis said.

Staff does not have a proposed cost for acquiring the property, which is 0.6 acres, but is aware that the owner would be interested in selling. To offset cost, the city could entertain naming rights to the park if a private party considers assisting the city in acquiring it.

“If we’re able to get the pond and get the vacant lot, I think it’s something that will work well with (Planning director) Mary (Rose’s) overall plan, as far as trying to do some beautification and maybe some artwork,” Councilman Neal Strickland said. “I think that’s something District 2 would be proud of and I think we all would be proud of.”

Strickland said that could serve to boost the quality of life in that area as well.

The area around the pond is visible to regular traffic at nearby Kerr School and Jordan Shopping Center. The city’s upkeep of the pond would cost approximately $50 per month not including personnel hours that could be absorbed by the existing budget. That would be money well spent to have something new in District 2, Strickland said.

“I think that would be an asset,” said Councilwoman Jean Turlington.

Districts 1 and 2 are the only districts without a park, although Fisher Drive Park (in District 5) is adjacent to District 1.

Councilman Steve Stefanovich said it would be nice to have all the pieces needed to convert that to a pocket park, before moving forward on a single element. The Council agreed to have city staff explore acquiring the adjacent property, which would require negotiation with the property owner and presenting a purchase amount to Council for approval.

The matter will receive further consideration later this month.

Ace parking lot

The City Council also approved a project ordinance for the city’s contribution of $48,900 toward a renovation project at the Ace Plaza parking lot.

Staff is working to complete the project design and anticipating moving forward with the project this spring.

“This is not just about a parking lot, it is about being a public space as well,” Purvis said. “We hope to start this project by early spring, around April.”

A $100,000 USDA Rural Business Development grant was awarded to the city last year to overhaul the deteriorating parking lot, whose poor condition and drainage issues have been a problem for years.

Budget constraints made significant repairs cost-prohibitive in recent years, causing Council to delay accepting the lot’s donation from Beth Stewart, despite offering another 40-plus spaces to the downtown parking inventory between Lisbon and Wall streets. The city ultimately accepted the lot from Stewart in 2012.

The lot serves several businesses in the central business district and with proper repairs to fix drainage and deterioration, could help strengthen those businesses, city officials said.

Reach Managing Editor Chris Berendt at 910-249-4616. Follow the paper on twitter @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.

Talks include pond property, Ace Plaza parking lot

By Chris Berendt

[email protected]

Councilman Neal Strickland, far left, talks about the city’s potential acquisition of a small pond as Councilman Steve Stefanovich, center, and Mayor Lew Starling listen.
http://clintonnc.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/web1_Pond.jpgCouncilman Neal Strickland, far left, talks about the city’s potential acquisition of a small pond as Councilman Steve Stefanovich, center, and Mayor Lew Starling listen.

Reach Managing Editor Chris Berendt at 910-249-4616. Follow the paper on twitter @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.

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