LOUISBURG -- It would cost the county more than $22 million to fund the capital improvements outlined in its latest parks and recreation comprehensive master plan.
But, there were two things that Alfred Benesch and Company Senior Project Manager Jon Wood wanted county commissioners to know:
• There are funds available to help;
• Ultimately, it would be up to commissioners, parks and recreation staff and its advisory board to determine when, and if, it would implement the recommendations laid out in the 10-year plan.
"... At some point, this board might want to accept or adopt this plan," Wood said. "I'm not saying that everything in here [gets done and adopting the plan] does not commit the county to do everything in this plan.
"They are just recommendations and in here to provide aid in decision-making for those future projects," Wood told county commissioners during their board meeting on Monday night.
"If you were really flush and could do everything in here, hats off to you, but we know that won't happen" he said. "... The intent is that the staff, working with the parks and rec advisory board and this body, here, would help create [a list of] projects that are up for implementation and balance those needs with the budget and try to establish a a three- to five-year [capital improvement plan]."
Franklin County agreed to hire Benesch last summer to develop a parks and recreation master plan.
Franklinton and Louisburg agreed to take part in the process, as well.
As part of the process, Benesch spoke with parks and recreation stakeholders in the county and the two towns.
Beyond that, they also completed a countywide survey, asking residents how they felt about parks and recreation and what types of facilities and programs they'd like to see either improved or developed.
Among other things, the survey revealed:
• Residents want an outdoor swimming facility, natural trails, indoor fitness and exercise facilities, and greenway trail system which were the highest of priorities for facility needs;
• Residents want programs focused on adult fitness and wellness, aquatics, outdoor music/concerts, senior citizen program and special events/festivals.
Benesch's plan outlines goals and recommendations, including but not limited to:
• Creating a countywide greenway master plan;
• Seeking land to continue development of the Louisburg/Franklinton rail trail;
• Seeking land to develop a greenway from Louisburg to the Dehart Botanical Gardens;
• Develop locations and plans for two indoor multi-purpose community centers, one in a central location for a community center/aquatics facility/gym, and one in the western part of the county, for a gym/community room;
• Seek new opportunities, such as disc golf at Riverbend Park and Owens Park;
• Develop community parks in the north and eastern portion of the county;
• A venue for senior olympic events.
During Monday's presentation, Wood noted that "rough" numbers suggested it could cost the county nearly $12.3 million to acquire the land and pay for the capital improvements necessary to build the new facilities and improve upon or fully develop existing facilities, such as Pilot Lions Park or the proposed Epsom Park, during the first five years of a proposed capital improvement plan.
The bulk of that would be for new facilities, $7.9 million; greenway development, $1.68 million; and land acquisition, $1.1 million.
It could cost the county anther $10.4 million for the final five years of that CIP, with $7.1 million for new facilities; $1.37 million for land acquisition; and just over $1 million for greenway development.
The CIP does not specifically say what land needs to be purchased or, specifically, where facilities need to be.
Those issues would be fleshed out if the plan is adopted, after staff and commissioners set priorities for projects and once the plan is ready for implementation.
One of the reasons for doing a parks and recreation master plan is that the state looks favorably at funding projects when they are identified through a current plan, Wood said.
The county's current plan is 20 years old.
"It's a good way to get funding," he said.
Monday night's meeting was for informational purposes only and no action was taken.
The master plan is expected to be available for public consumption through the county's website by week's end, staff said.
"We'll be delving into it going forward," said Assistant County Manager Kim Denton.
"This is lots of info to digest," she said. "[In the future] we'll come back with recommendations [for implementation]."
Wood noted that the same work is taking place with Franklinton and Louisburg leaders, who were partners in the master plan.
Benesch will produce plans that are unique for each town, as well.
"We're on the way," Wood said.