Erica Madsen and Jason Weckerly of Foresite Group, the firm hired by the city to plan the park, presented the concept plan at the meeting based on input received at a similar meeting in October.
“One of the biggest concerns we heard was the visibility from the subdivision into the park and vice versa, and also the restroom building,” Madsen said.
Madsen said another feature that met opposition from Harmony on the Lakes residents — connectivity between the park and subdivision — was not included in the concept plan.
Amenities in the concept plan include: paved and soft-surface trails, a restroom building, parking, picnic pavilion, a 6,000-square-foot playground and an open field.
The inclusion of the field drew comments from residents concerned about sports teams using it for unofficial practices.
“It is not really for organized use. It’s more like a place for people to throw a Frisbee,” Madsen said.
The area of the proposed field is 1.35 acres.
Residents suggested adding a few trees inside the field or a trail cutting across it to reduce the likelihood of the field being used for organized sports.
Some Harmony on the Lakes residents posed questions about privacy at October’s information session. The concept plan does not include a fence, but does include a buffer of natural vegetation between Harmony and the park.
“A fence carries big maintenance burdens,” Madsen said. “To install a fence would be along the lines of $18 to $20 per foot. At that cost, it would really affect how much the city could build internal to the park.”
The vegetation buffer would provide about 150 feet of space between the park and neighboring properties.
One Harmony on the Lakes couple said they were still worried about people crossing their property to access the park and any liability issues that could create.
The park’s parking area, picnic pavilions, playground and restrooms are located within close proximity of each other near the proposed entrance on Hickory Road.
“A parent sitting at the pavilion can watch their children on the playground and see them walk to the restroom,” Madsen said, noting that the location of these amenities will allow police officers to perform after-hours premises checks with ease.
Lighting is only planned for the area near the parking lot. At this point, a gate is not planned for closing off the park at night.
“We had discussed the possibility of a gate, but then you have to have someone that can open and close that gate,” Madsen said.
Harmony on the Lakes resident Roger McIver said he would like to see structures that blend in better with the natural surroundings.
“We do have example of some projects that are more rustic. It is a fair amount more costly to have more rustic structures, and they typically have a higher maintenance burden,” Madsen said.
McIver said he supported the park in general.
“It’s a natural park…it looks like the structures are a bit out of place, but I don’t know what (the park) would lose to afford upgrading. I think this is one of the best things that can go in there,” he said.
Bill Echols, capital projects director for Cherokee County, said the park could “easily” be under construction by this time next year.
The cost of building the park is estimated at $1.5 million. Phase I, including most amenities, will be financed through the city’s portion of general obligation bonds collected by Cherokee County. Phase II will be financed through the city and is planned to include additional trails.