The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

December 28, 2013

City of Albemarle holds off on decisions regarding Chuck Morehead Park

By Shannon Beamon, Staff Writer

Thursday, December 26, 2013 — The city of Albemarle will hold off making any decisions on the Chuck Morehead Memorial Park master plan until after the city’s audit presentation in January.

 The master plan is part of a grant application process Albemarle Parks and Recreation hopes to complete by the end of January in order to win funds to renovate the park.

The grant would require a 50 percent match from the city.

At its last meeting Parks and Rec Director Toby Thorpe presented the city council with three price-variable options for the master plan, but with the purchase of the Old Central School and other projects still affecting the budget, the council opted to hold off making a decision until it can properly assess where the city stands financially.

“We’ll know after we get the audit what our fund balance is for the year,” Mayor Ronnie Michael said.

The master plan for Morehead Park could cost the city anywhere from $77,500 to $141,250, the largest variable being the highly-popular demand for tennis court renovations.

At a public interest meeting last month meant to help Parks and Rec gather the public’s opinion, renovating the tennis courts received more support than any other idea for the park. Most who attended were in favor of not only of resurfacing the court, but of completely repaving it.

As Thorpe detailed in his plan, a complete renovation would cost the city about $132,500, with armor crack repair and resurfacing about $41,000.

“One thing we need to keep in mind is that even if we go with the less expensive Armor crack repair is that we’re going to still have to go in and redo that asphalt anyways,” Thorpe said.

“The crack repair is guaranteed for five years … but if we go ahead and redo the courts now we’re getting at least 10 years out of it before anything needs to be done.”

The second largest factor affecting the price of the master plan was the construction of a dog park.

“That came out of left field, we weren’t expecting it, but there was a lot of public support for it,” Thorpe said.

When it came to which ideas had the most support at the public interest meeting, the dog park was second only to the tennis courts.

“We don’t have anything like that in the city and we think that would be a great idea.”

Having a new park element in a master plan also makes the grant application more competitive.

“Our application needs it. The question is how do we do it,” Thorpe said.

If construction of the dog park is contracted it would cost the city $105,000. If construction is done in house it would cost the city $85,000.

“This isn’t anything our folks couldn’t do. This is something that could be done with city labor,” Thorpe said.

“I would strongly recommend that we do a complete overhaul of the tennis courts, but then do the dog park in-house.”

The price of everything else in the master plan did not vary.

Thorpe also notified the council that the city’s commitment could be spread out over two years. The city does not have to provide the funds upfront and construction on the project would not begin until the next fiscal year.

“We’re already committed $150,000 towards the Central School property over the next couple years so I think it would be wise to wait until our next meeting to make that kind of financial decision,” Michael said.

The council will discuss the matter further at its meeting on Jan. 6 after a presentation on the city’s audit.

To submit story ideas, contact Shannon Beamon at (704) 982-2121 ext. 24 or at