County gets residents OK for open spaces projects

mhankerson@newsobserver.comJune 27, 2014 

— County staff received positive input last week about the proposal to create space for horseback riding, hiking and kayaking in eastern Wake County through its Open Space Program.

Members of the county’s program visited Wendell’s town hall Monday night and Knightdale Tuesday night. Both visits went well.

“Everything we heard ... has been pretty positive,” said Chris Snow, director of the Wake County Parks, Recreation and Open Space department.

The county wants to turn three locations near Wendell into protected spaces for activities. Turnipseed Nature Preserve would become space for a hiking trail, Robertson’s Mill Pond Preserve would be a location for canoeing and Procter Farm Preserve would be land set aside for horseback riding.

They will be the first of the county’s open space parcels to be opened to the public.

Last week’s visits were a chance for residents to voice concerns, and some had questions about using the space for other activities, including creating mountain biking trails and sailboating in Robertson’s Mill Pond.

The spaces are protected, Snow said, so the goal is to only do minimal construction or development on the tracts of land.

“We’re trying to work with what’s on the ground already,” Snow said.

Eric O. Staehle with Wake County facilities design and construction said some of the sites will require more work than others before they can open. At Robertson’s Mill, trees will need to be removed from the water where kayaks or canoes might run into them. At the other two sites, trails might need to be improved or created.

Staehle said that if the process stays on track, the county should be able to open the spaces next spring.

It will have to go before county commissioners again – Staehle and Snow said they are aiming for July’s Board of Commissioners meeting- and then they will need to flesh out construction bidding.

Snow said the county has about 5,000 acres of land to use for open spaces projects and a good portion of the land is in eastern Wake County.

While there are no other plans for that land, Snow said they want to see how these first three spaces pan out.

“People are very excited things are going on in this part of the county,” he said.

Hankerson: 919-829-4826; Twitter: @easternwakenews

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