ZEBULON — With improvements to one town park nearing completion, the focus has already shifted toward revamping another of Zebulon’s recreational spaces.
The town in July was awarded a Healthy Weight Implementation grant of nearly $92,500 from the John Rex Endowment to bring new life to Whitley Park.
The project will add a new play station and upgrade the existing main structure with a mulch bed with new borders to make it wheelchair-accessible. Plans also call for a new swing set and other pieces.
Zebulon Community Center coordinator Sheila Long said work will begin in the next several weeks. The target completion time is mid-December.
Long said some of the playground equipment will be similar to that installed at Zebulon Community Park in 2011.
“It’s not your typical park equipment,” Long said. “It’s going to be your newer, more innovative equipment designed to engage the kids for at least 30 minutes.”
The Whitley Park tennis courts will remain accessible to the public during construction.
The final leg of a project to connect trails at Zebulon Community Park and form a complete loop for walkers is expected to begin this week. Work there is expected to be complete by mid-November.
The three-phase community park project began in 2011, when the town was awarded $85,000 in Healthy Places, Active Spaces grant money from the John Rex Endowment.
The first phase, paving a trail around Field A at the park, was completed in late 2011. The second phase was completed last year. It consists of a trail running through the woods alongside the disc golf course that links to the back of the Zebulon First Baptist Church property, the paved walkway at the park’s playground and the phase one trail.
The final phase calls for a paved trail around Griswold Field on the south end of the park. It will also connect the existing pavement between the two ballfields to the phase two section, essentially forming a 3/4-mile circuit.
With the town facing a tight budget the last couple years, Long said neither park project would have been possible without the 100 percent funding provided through the grants.
“We’re thankful to John Rex (Endowment), and really excited to offer these improvements to the community,” she said. “We find the community really enjoys our parks, and this really improves the quality of life for the community in the greater Zebulon area.”
Zebulon Parks and Recreation Director Greg Johnson said the aim of the upgrades was not to compete with Knightdale Station – a park that opened off Knightdale’s First Avenue on Sept. 19. But he said the improvements should make the Zebulon parks more attractive.
“We do get a lot of crossover from other towns in our parks,” Johnson said. “It’s just important that we continue to develop parks and keep them up to date. That’s what brings people back – how good it looks.”