Revive plan for nature parkPublished 9:37pm Monday, January 21, 2013
Perhaps the Pamlico-Tar River Foundation’s interest in building a camping platform on the Tar River near the southern foot of the U.S. Highway (Business) 17 bridge will renew interest in the city building the Tar River Nature Park.
That park, if built, would go a long way in providing more public access to the river. For those who don’t know, it’s the Tar River west of the downtown bridge and the Pamlico River east of the bridge.
Consideration of the wilderness park is nothing new. It’s past time for consideration. It’s time for turning the idea into a reality.
Nearly three years ago, the city declined a grant agreement that would have given the state a conservation easement on 220 of the acres that are part of the proposed 275-acre park. Council members said then they didn’t want the 220 acres under such an easement because it would restrict what the city can do with the property.
The city’s concerns have merit, but so does the park proposal.
With the loss of Whichard’s Beach and Griffin’s Beach as public-access points to the Pamlico River several years ago, it was pleasing to see the city pursuing the Tar River Nature Park project, which would provide public access to the river.
Plans called for the park to have a building that would have restrooms, an area for exhibits and an area that would be used to store rental kayaks and provide some office space. Along with a fishing pier and picnic facilities, other proposed improvements to the land include a wooden bulkhead, boat ramp, gazebo, restrooms, shoreline walkway, parking area, lighting and trash receptacles.
Beaufort County residents, Washington residents and visitors to the area could use such facilities. The park would be a great spot to educate people about wetlands and their importance to the environment. The park would complement the North Carolina Estuarium, which tells the stories of the Albemarle-Pamlico Estuary, the second-largest estuary in the nation behind the Chesapeake Bay.
The park also would fit into the city’s plan to make eco-tourism a key part of its continuing efforts to promote tourism in the area.
It’s time the city put the nature park back on its list of priorities.