Knightdale to allow park sponsorships

aspecht@newsobserver.comMay 7, 2013 

— The name of the forthcoming downtown park, Knightdale Station, will be brought to you by the taxpayer, and the taxpayer only.

But the features of Knightdale Station – such as athletic fields, an amphitheater, a dog park, and outdoor art – will likely bear the name of corporate sponsors. That’s what a group of about 30 people decided during a special meeting on May 1.

In July, Knightdale is expected to open phase one of a 70-acre park on First Avenue. Phase one is already paid for, but the town could use sponsorship revenues to help fund the next two phases and parks and recreation programs held at Knightdale Station.

“(Revenues) that come in from the park would come back to that park,” Town Councilman Mike Chalk said. “If you sponsored art, the funds would go toward art.”

Knightdale Mayor Russell Killen said the main goal of the meeting was to determine what types of sponsorships residents are comfortable with. The group of Knightdale residents, staff members and town council members said it was open to allowing sponsorships for almost every feature except the park name and the playground.

“I think as a parent, I’d have a problem seeing sponsorship stuff at the playground,” said Doug Taylor, a member of the Land Use Review Board. “It just doesn’t seem right.”

Another top priority for the group is keeping sponsorship plaques and signs modest: “I would hate to go into this park and have it look like a baseball field,” said Pete Mangum, a member of the Old Town Oversight Committee.

Knightdale will keep all sponsorship signs and plaques “tasteful,” Killen promised.

Specific details like sign sizes will remain unsettled until future meetings, Killen said. Knightdale staff is still researching sign regulations in other towns for guidance on Knightdale Station.

Staff must also determine a price structure and sponsorship strategy. Take the three athletic fields, for example. Killen asked the group: should Knightdale pursue a single sponsor for all three fields, or a sponsor for each of the three fields?

“I’d rather see one big thing (sponsored) than a bunch of things,” said Richard Godwin, a Knightdale resident who raised his hand during the meeting.

The answer to Killen’s question will ultimately depend on who’s interested in sponsorships at Knightdale Station. Large corporations and “charitable, memorial bequeaths” are likely to be those most interested, said Clyde Holt, Knightdale’s town attorney.

But they likely won’t come knocking until Knightdale puts ink to paper with a plan. Knightdale Town Council and various town committees will continue discussing park sponsorships at upcoming meetings. They next joint meeting has yet to be scheduled.

Specht: 919-829-4826

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