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Help make it special

By Staff
When Washington’s City Council decided earlier this week to have the Planning Board, Recreation Advisory Committee, Washington Tourism Development Authority and Downtown Washington on the Waterfront have a role in developing a strategic plan for the Tar River Nature Park, that was a good move.
Those bodies have been charged with obtaining public input on how that park’s nearly 300 acres should be used and what facilities and amenities would be appropriate for the park.
The council also wants groups such as the Pamlico-Tar River Foundation and the Partnership for the Sounds to offer advice on how the Tar River Nature Park should look and what it should offer the public. With most of the 276 acres being wetlands, there are limitations as to what can and cannot be built within the park’s boundaries.
And some council members don’t want to wait until the budget process for the next fiscal year begins (in the spring of 2008) before taking up the park matter.
Now, the city is doing something about it — with the help of the public, advisory groups and nonprofit organizations such as the Pamlico-Tar River Foundation and the Partnership for the Sounds.
The Tar River Nature Park would be located on the south side of the Tar River and west of U.S. Highway 17. The Pamlico River and the Tar River are the same body of water. It’s the Tar River west of the U.S. Highway 17 bridge at Washington. It’s the Pamlico River east of that bridge.
At a meeting in October, council members made it clear they want to find suitable locations so the city can provide public access to the river to make up for the loss of Whichard’s Beach and Griffin’s Beach, which have been targeted for development.
With an expectation of receiving up to $400,000 in grant money to help pay for improving some of the 276 acres, the city is returning a $100,000 grant to the state. With the returned money, the state will help other communities complete similar projects.
The city decided to return the money after preliminary engineering for a project to improve the proposed park indicated bids to build part of that project would be higher than the amount of money budgeted for those initial improvements.
By returning the $100,000 and waiting for another grant up to $400,000, the city expects to do more to improve the park site.
The overall, proposed park project, which will provide shoreline access to the public, calls for 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, proposed improvements to the land include a wooden bulkhead, boat ramp, gazebo, restrooms, shoreline walkway, parking area, lighting and trash receptacles.
When the Planning Board, Recreation Advisory Committee, Washington Tourism Development Authority and Downtown Washington on the Waterfront begin their work to obtain input from the public, city residents and others must take advantage of opportunities to have a say in what the Tar River Nature Park should offer the public. Keep in mind, some amenities and structures may not be allowed because of regulations governing what can and cannot be built in wetlands.
Speak up and let the city know what you want the Tar River Nature Park to have and look like before it is built. Waiting until after it’s built and complaining that the park doesn’t have this or doesn’t have that does no one any good.
Help make the Tar River Nature Park a special place. Let your voice be heard.