City considers upgrades to Battle Park
By Philip Sayblack
Wednesday, August 10, 2016
One of Rocky Mount’s parks could get a face lift in the future.
The Rocky Mount City Council discussed the possibility of future improvements to Battle Park on Monday during its Committee of the Whole meeting . It was one of a number of topics discussed over the course of the meeting and is a subject in which the council showed real interest.
Assistant City Manager Thomas M. Moton Jr. said the upgrades likely won't happen in the immediate future, though. They include a new spray ground, a butterfly garden, widened walking paths, a BMX track and a zip line among other items.
“None of the proposed upgrades are in the city's five-year capital improvement plan at this time,” he said.
The proposed zip line would be worked into the park so as to have the least impact on its surroundings. The spray park that was discussed as part of the park's renovation would be engineered rather than a natural feature.
Moton added that while the project is still in a concept stage, short-term efforts such as environmental education, outdoor outfitter and educational hiking trails could be completed in one to five years. He said that the interest in the project came from a desire by city residents to make the park a focal point of the city's tourism industry and economy.
“With ideas for improvements we hope to make this area a destination location,” he said. “With possible bike trails and other activities, we hope to attract more travelers and to maximize opportunities for people to enjoy the water. Battle Park is also the hub to connect our assets from MLK Park to City Lake, so visitors can use the greenway to enjoy all seven miles of greenway trailsthat Rocky Mount has to offer.”
Parks and Recreation Director Kelvin Yarrell said the project's future rests not just on establishing funding but on people coming together to make it happen. This includes the residents of Rocky Mount, the city council and Capitol Broadcasting Co.
“The true plan would come from working with our citizens, elected officials and the business community, such as Capitol Broadcasting, to look at the entire scope of the project once funding becomes available,” he said.
Since the project is still in its concept stage, there was no discussion on its cost. Rocky Mount owns Battle Park and Panther Island, which is part of Battle Park. Rocky Mount Mills has shown interest in either leasing or purchasing Panther Island. Rocky Mount Mills is owned by Capitol Broadcasting Co.
Moton said that if a deal were to be made for the property in the future, Capitol Broadcasting Co. would make improvements to the island by itself. He said that in the meantime, the city will investigate every way that it can to fund the improvements.