DAVIDSON – Construction is scheduled to begin in December to create a town-owned park that was suggested decades ago and has been a prioritized project for the last four years.
At the town board’s Oct 26 meeting, commissioners authorized approval of a $1.788 million contract with J.D. Goodrum Company for the initial phase development of Beaty Park on 19 acres east of Beaty Road between N.C. 115 and Armour Street. Work will begin in December and a grand opening, according to Parks and Recreation Director Leslie Willis, is tentatively set for June or July of next year.
Design plans for the acreage, developed by the Dodd Studios landscape architect firm, include an emphasis on preserving natural and forested areas while incorporating some passive recreational uses. The northern sections of Beaty Park will include a public gathering space called The Grove, along with parking and a small restroom and public building.
In addition to approving the contract, the board also acknowledged receipt of a $285,000 Parks and Recreation Trust Fund (PARTF) grant for the project. It is the first time the town has acquired a state-regulated PARTF grant.
The town acquired the property in the early 1980s with visions for a public park, but the land remained untouched due to funding issues as well as altered expectations for the acreage through various town government administrations.
A proposal for commercial development on the property more than five years ago stirred controversy, leading to the formation of the Save Davidson citizens organization. The issue was acknowledged as a prime factor in the results of the 2017 municipal election when four new commissioners and a new mayor were elected.
The new slate of town officials identified the development of Beaty Park as a priority. Later, a citizen task force was established and, with months of public input as part of the process, a plan for Beaty Park, including the creation of a permanent conservation easement on the property, was approved.
Hate speech condemned
Also at the Oct. 26 meeting, commissioners unanimously endorsed a resolution formally expressing opposition to the “hateful, homophobic, and insensitive remarks” made by N.C. Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson in a much-publicized address in June.
The resolution – which also affirms the town’s commitment to “not discriminate based on race, ethnicity, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, national origin or ancestry, citizen or non-citizen, marital status, familial status, pregnancy, natural hair or hairstyles, military and veteran status, religious belief or non-belief, age, or handicap or disability of any person” – stemmed from the board’s Oct. 12 meeting when commissioners criticized Robinson and called his comments – which included use of the term “filth” to describe transgenderism and homosexuality – “embarrassing for the state and its citizens.”