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County Announces Plans to Spend $0 on New Projects in Steele Creek

Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners(July 2, 2011) At the Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners meeting on June 21, Dena Diona, Finance Director for Mecklenburg County, laid out a plan to spend $136.8 million on 17 ranked capital projects during the upcoming fiscal year. None of those projects are in Steele Creek.

Because Mecklenburg County voters have approved bonds for schools, parks, and other projects but the county has been unable to sell most of those bonds, the commissioners established a capital projects prioritization process to identify which projects to go forward with in the upcoming fiscal year.

Click on Capital Projects Ranking BOCC June 21 2011 for the full list. The FY2012 Capital Project Ranking table shows the initial ranked list. The FY2012 Recommended Capital Project Ranking table shows the recommended priorities, which drops one project to FY 2013 because it isn't needed this year and brings two projects up due to contractual agreement with the Town of Matthews and Johnson C. Smith University.

Ranked Projects
Project Name Amount
27 12    Palisades Elementary School 16,900,000    
42 27    Berewick Park 2,000,000    
55 40    Palisades Park 320,000    

Mecklenburg Board of County CommissionersThe top ranked project in Steele Creek is the Palisades Elementary School, which will be built on land the school system owns across from McDowell Nature Preserve. Based on the amounts approved this year, the Palisades Elementary School could possibly be built in 2013.

Also on the ranked list is the Palisades Neighborhood Park, which was anticipated to be built under the same construction contract as the school. This may be a factor in determining whether this park also might be built next year.

A new high school also will be built on the same site as the elementary school and park, but bonds have not been approved to build that school. Click HERE on the image above to see a proposed layout of the site. Also see Plan for the Neighborhood Park at The Palisades Released

Also on the ranked list is Berewick Park. The ranking document describes this as follows:

Final build-out of this park and sports complex. Included in the final phase will be four synthetic and two multi-purpose fields, indoor shelter, walking and hiking trails, parking and construction of the championship multi-purpose field and associated stadium complex. Phase I is currently under design and will consist of five multi-purpose fields (2 of which will be synthetic), parking and restrooms.

In 2008, the first phase of Berewick Park was expected to be completed by the end of 2009, but construction could not begin because the bonds were not sold. See First Phase of Berewick Regional Park to Open at the End of 2009. Plans for the park apparently have changed since 2008.

Unranked Projects
Project Name Amount
   Sugar Creek Greenway 6,000,000    
   Thomas McAlister Winget Park 2,716,000    
   Walker Branch Greenway 1,176,000    
   Olympic High School Stadium 6,847,500    

The county has a number of additional projects approved but not ranked. The Finance Department asked departments to only rank those projects that had construction start dates prior to July 1, 2013. The remaining projects will be ranked at a later date and will follow the projects already on the list.

The Sugar Creek Greenway is described as follows:

City Park Loop and Billy Graham Parkway to S Tryon Street.

This greenway will run from the planned City Park development at the site of the old coliseum on Tyvola Road to S Tryon St at the bottom of the hill between Tyvola Road and Shopton Road along the northeast edge of Steele Creek. It eventually will continue east to E. E. Waddell School. This project has been delayed due to the delay in construction at City Park.

Thomas McAlister Winget Park is described as follows:

The 3rd and final phase of this park. Amenities yet to be built per the approved site master plan include three softball fields, amphitheatre, picnic sites, indoor shelter, restroom, athletic field lighting, and walking trails.

The Walker Branch Greenway is an extension of the current greenway behind Best Buy at RiverGate Shopping Center. It will continue along Walker Branch behind Walker Creek and Southbridge neighborhoods to Smith Road. There also will be a connection to the Steele Creek Athletic Association fields.

Mecklenburg County has not paid for the construction of any greenways in Steele Creek. 

The county has been looking for partnerships to contribute to project funding. Walkers Branch Greenway was donated with no matching funding from Mecklenburg County by Childress Klein, the developers of RiverGate. Childress Klein not only donated the land, but also paid the approximately $300,000 construction cost. Mecklenburg County could have taken advantage of this partnership opportunity to extend the greenway to Smith Road or at the very minimum added a bridge across the creek to the ball fields of the Steele Creek Athletic Association. Instead we have a very short greenway that connects one part of the parking lot to another part of the parking lot. Childress Klein has gone above and beyond their scope in order to be a good neighbor, but the county has not seen this area as a priority. A continuation of the greenway to Smith Road would have provided neighborhoods along Choate Circle access to RiverGate and other shopping areas along S Tryon Street. Many residents feel short changed by the county. We can only hope that the county recognizes the value of this greenway and takes advantage of what Childress Klein started to create a greenway that could actually be used by the local residents from their neighborhoods.

The Olympic High School stadium project is described as follows:

Construction of a new 4000 seat stadium and field house including concession stands and restroom facilities. Replacement of the existing track and installation of artificial turf.

Voters approved funding for these projects through school bonds in 2007 and park bonds in 2008. The county Finance Department will present the final plan for bond sales for approval by the County Commission in August, and they likely will be sold in September. After selling the recommended bonds this year, the county will have $579 million remaining in authorized but unsold bond debt.

See also $34M for Capital Projects in Steele Creek is on Hold.

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