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Residents continue Waynesville park push

The building’s been torn down, but the proposed park still hasn’t been funded. Cory Vaillancourt photo The building’s been torn down, but the proposed park still hasn’t been funded. Cory Vaillancourt photo

As promised, a group of about 20 people showed up to the April 23 Town of Waynesville Board of Aldermen meeting to bemoan what they say is a lack of progress on a small park to be located along Pigeon Street in Waynesville’s historically African-American neighborhood.

Haywood County commissioners acquired the three parcels that comprise the site through foreclosure in March 2017, after prolonged discussions. 

At the time, it was home to an unsecured structure that had formerly been a church but had become a haven for drug use and disruptive behavior, even years after police action broke the back of a major crack cocaine ring operating in the area. 

Its location in the shadow of a historic church and within eyeshot of both a Mountain Projects Head Start facility and the Pigeon Community Multicultural Development Center made it all the more irritating for residents of and visitors to the area. 

After the county sold the parcels to the town of Waynesville for $1, the building was promptly torn down, with a park slated to occupy the space. 

Attendees of a Haywood County NAACP meeting March 23 heard Waynesville Parks and Recreation Director Rhett Langston give an update on the park’s progress, which included a primitive site plan as well as a cost estimate. 

As proposed, a 20-foot by 40-foot covered pavilion would run about $40,000, including installation, but residents want other improvements as well, including a basketball court, playground, and grills — which could be a tight squeeze once parking and the site’s topography are factored into the design. 

Waynesville Town Manager Rob Hites, who is in the middle of municipal budget season at the moment, said he had plans to try to advance the park. 

“I don’t have any budget direction [from aldermen], but it’s my intent to recommend to the board $60,000,” said Hites. “Somewhere in the neighborhood of $25,000 to $30,000 for a shelter and a pad, and the rest for grading and paving. That would be step one.”

In North Carolina, municipal budgets must be passed by July 1, after a series of public hearings on the proposed budgets. 

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