Board discusses new parks

Published 3:52 pm Friday, October 21, 2022

If all is approved as planned, families and young people in Cumberland County will have three new parks and recreational facilities to spend their time.

At their October meeting, the Cumberland County Board of Supervisors approved conditional use permits for three new parks in the county. These parks, along with other recreational amenities, are part of the Parks and Recreation master plan that is scheduled to be brought before the board in their November meeting for official approval.

The parks include Cartersville Park at 12 Samuel’s Drive, which is currently the location for a county-operated Transfer Station. On this property is a section utilized as an outdoor recreation area with baseball and softball fields and bleachers. The approved conditional use permit will allow for a recreational facility including a playground, an open shelter and walking trails.

Similarly, Randolph Park at 2632 Cumberland Road is also the location of a Transfer Station with the proposal for a playground, open shelter and walking trails to be added to the location. These facilities will be available for rent for the public for birthday parties, reunions and other events.

Lastly, a park is proposed for Luther P. Jackson Park on Community Drive and Randolph Park at 2632 Cumberland Road. Cumberland County Economic Development Authority owns this property as well as the Cumberland Community Center at 1874 Anderson Highway. The plan is to also build a playground, open shelter and walking trails for community center mixed-use.

While putting together the master plan, a survey went out to county residents to gauge their thoughts and interest in new parks. According to Stamey, the county received 198 surveys, giving a confidence rate of plus or minus 7%. The survey asked two questions relevant to Parks and Recreation and facility development. According to the survey, around 89% said they feel that parks were an important and positive solution for the county.

Discussion on the future use of Luther P. Jackson School

During the board member discussion, Supervisor Ronald Tavernier expressed concern about the Luther P. Jackson Park location as this is also the location of the historic Luther P. Jackson School that operated during segregation. With the water and sewer available, Tavernier expressed that the County can restore this building and open it up for professional offices or cubicles for remote workers. He also suggested for the gymnasium area be open for senior citizen activities as many may not be able to use the parks.

“The property behind it, yes it’s ours, but I feel that with the water and sewage available we could be passing up a gift to somebody or we could be passing up on an opportunity to prosper the county more by developing that later on as a professional park,” said Tavernier.

According to County Administrator Derek Stamey, this vote for the park is only focused on Parks and Recreation’s master plan. In the future, this idea for the school can be looked into and be part of the county’s space plan when looking at buildings in the county that can be used. Supervisor Eurika Tyree agreed that both plans for the building and this park could take place at the same time. With this park being in her district, she knows that a large portion of Cumberland’s youth live in this area and can utilize the park as proposed.

Is Green Ridge connected?

During the public hearing, Betty Meyers spoke out in concern due to the Green Ridge Landfill. As part of its efforts to support Cumberland County, a community where they hope to build a landfill, Green Ridge donated $250,000 for the development of three parks which the Board appropriated in August 2021.

“I feel it’s a bribe and I feel like it’s a dictatorship,” said Meyer. “Whenever someone starts courting their person they do these little things like maybe send flowers or something like that. That’s what Green Ridge is doing. They’re sending these little trinkets to Cumberland County saying, “oh we need to destroy 1,200 acres and make it into a landfill.””

According to Stamey, the donation from Green Ridge will be used for the development of the master plan but Green Ridge has had no part in any of the planning. Other faculties specified in the plan may be pursued at a future time either through direct County funding, grants or through other creative funding mechanisms.

“Green Ridge has had no input or influence on the master plan’s development or the recommendations found within the document,” said Stamey. “The master plan recommendations are based off of state and national levels of service standards as well as feedback gathered from the community.”