Baseball and soccer battle for space at new Haywood rec park

Haywood County residents have another chance to steer plans for a park in Jonathan Creek at a public meeting at 6 p.m. Thursday, March 25.

The meeting will be held at the County Office building on Russ Avenue past K-Mart, formerly known as the MARC building.

The design firm will present up to three conceptual master plans for the park, based on input from the first public meeting held March 4 and an online survey.

The first meeting drew a crowd of about 45 people, with most people supporting baseball/softball fields, a soccer field, or fitness trails at the park.

Residents also favored developing a handicapped fishing facility, batting cages, and a fit course. They hoped to see the park maximize revenue potential and gear recreation to locals.

Meanwhile, soccer fans mobilized support to dominate an online survey posted online from March 5 to 22. About 75 people completed the survey, with 21 respondents advocating for soccer fields and opposing baseball/softball fields.

Claire Carleton, Haywood’s recreation director, said the public meeting was civil even though attendees had clashing interests there as well.

“It’s not a conflict,” said Carleton, “Everyone is going after their passion, whether it be baseball or softball.”

Many who completed the online survey said they liked the idea of mixing different uses, though they did not provide a clear direction for what should be included in that mix.

Haywood County commissioners purchased the 22-acre property for $1 million in 2007. In February, they hired the design firm of Barge, Waggoner, Sumner and Cannon Inc. to develop a master plan.

Each of the workshops will build on the information gathered from the previous meeting. After receiving input at Thursday’s public meeting, the firm will develop a draft master plan and determine costs.

A third and final public workshop will be held on Tuesday, April 27, at Maggie Valley Town Hall.

The firm hopes to present the final master plan to the county board of commissioners on Monday, May 17.

For more information, contact Haywood County Recreation and Parks at 828.452.6789.

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