Public recreation space growing in Steele Creek

jmarks@lakewyliepilot.comFebruary 28, 2014 

— Some public recreation space is open already, but more is coming to Steele Creek.

Palisades Park, beside the elementary school being built across N.C. 49 from McDowell Nature Preserve, should be open this summer. The park will have a paved nature trail , playground, shelter, benches and signs.

“The park is slated to be completed by the start of the next school year –August 2014,” said Kevin Brickman, planner with Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation.

County voters approved a bond in 2008 that included more than $300,000 for the first phase of the park. The following year plans were discussed in community meetings for a park alongside the elementary school and a future high school. Amenities included what’s now planned, plus athletic fields.

There is no time frame for when a high school might be built. An opening event for the park may be scheduled, but isn’t yet.

Another long-range project is an extension of the Walker Branch Greenway, which runs up the eastern side of RiverGate. There’s less than half a mile of greenway at RiverGate but plans are to extend the paved trail from Olympic High School on the north to the state line heading south.

In the meantime, a section of “dirtway” is open including stepping stones on the Walker Branch stream. It’s the county’s first stretch of dirtway, with another planned for the Huntersville, N.C., area. The idea is to create unpaved, low maintenance paths that precede full greenways.

“We have 60-ish linear miles of greenway property that we don’t have plans to open in the next few years,” said planner Christa Rogers.

The current dirtway is on the southern end of the full greenway plan, with a northern stretch set to open soon.

The Steele Creek additions are part of a growing recreation base in the area. A public trail in Belmont recently opened on the Seven Oaks property. Planners in Lake Wylie continue work on a recreation facility in Lake Wylie on Crowders Creek, where the county owns land.

John Marks •  803-831-8166

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