The City of Greenville purchased 163 acres of land next to highway 264 in 2019 with the plans to make it an outdoor adventure park with walking trails and has begun to makeway for the new addition for its community.
Greenville Mayor PJ Connelly said the conversations to buy the land first came up about a year and a half ago. He said the property is close to other parks which is why it was an appealing addition to the City of Greenville.
“It was very attractive to us because it seemed like a piece of property that really cannot be developed and it also had access to the river,” Connelly said.
The property cannot be developed because of it being in the Tar River flood plain, according to Connelly. He said the area experiences flooding and it is not suitable for any type of structure.
Connelly said the park project is expected to be divided into phases with plans already set to put in trails. He said the adventure park that will be next to highway 264 is hoped to open in April 2021.
“As of right now, there is a little pond that connects into the Tar River. Our plan is we want to put in a walking trail around that pond,” Connelly said. “We want to have some walking trails around the property itself. We are also gonna look at doing a canoe and kayak launch.”
Connelly said the city hopes to have the first phase of the project done by April 2021. He said there are plans for more additions after the trails and the boat launch for kayaks.
There are plans to connect existing parks in the area with trails, according to Connelly. He said River Park North is west of the newly acquired property and the hope is to be able to connect the two parks.
“Our hope is we’ll be able to continue to make some connections into the land that we already own. River park north is basically to the west of there,” Connelly said. “We just made a 1.3 mile extension in River Park North for a walking trail. Our hope is to be able to connect the land in the near future and be able to offer some outdoor amenities for people.”
Connelly said the new park will be a great attraction for people in the Greenville area. He said the new parks aren't solely for people in Greenville but for people in eastern North Carolina to come and enjoy.
Junior biology and chemistry double major Holiday Harvey lives near the new park property. Harvey said the park has potential to be a good addition to the community.
“I think It would be good. If it’s too close to the grid during the normal semester it could get filled with drunk people on the weekends,” Harvey said. “That would be an issue but I think it would be good for the community.”
Director of Recreation and Parks for the City of Greenville, Gary Fenton has plans to utilize the Tar River and the surrounding wooded areas as recreational zones. Fenton said he believes all the parks that will reside along the northern side of the river can be connected with trails.
Fenton wants to put in more boat launches for small boats and make the nearby bodies of water more accessible. The Recreation and parks department’s focus is to introduce more people to the river.
“We did what was called the Tar River Legacy Plan. It was a big document that we put together and basically the reason for that was, how can our city better benefit from the fact that we have a river that runs right through our city,” Fenton said.
The document, created six years ago, came with recommendations of properties to acquire that are specifically intended to be active recreational attractions that relate to the river, according to Fenton. For the proposed areas to acquire, the Recreation and Parks department has ideas which include fishing, boating and cable wakeboarding zones in the lakes just north of the Tar River as well as elevated trails through the wetlands, also called murch canopies.
“There’s a lot of possibilities of facilities, but most of them are respectful of the natural environment that is there and they make use of that environment, that lake or that river, and bring people closer to it,” Fenton said.
The City of Greenville hopes to make the Tar river more accessible, according to Fenton. He said, however, large scale plans don't come quickly or at a cheap cost.