Plan for Havens Gardens goes to council

Published 4:56 pm Friday, April 24, 2009

By Staff
Most residents at public hearing support Concept C
Contributing Editor
At its meeting Monday, The Washington City Council is expected to authorize further development of an improvement plan for Havens Gardens.
The city’s Recreation Advisory Committee and city staff recommend approval of a plan known as Concept C for modifying the park at the confluence of Runyon Creek and the Pamlico River. Concept C emerged as the preferred strategy during a public hearing held March 16 by the committee, said Phil Mobley, the city’s director of parks and recreation.
Mobley said a cost estimate for the Havens Gardens project will come later after the concept, if approved by the council, is turned into a more-detailed plan by engineers.
The city is seeking grants from recreation-related funding sources, such as the N.C. Parks and Recreation Trust Fund, and money from the American Recovery and Revitalization Act to help pay for the improvements, he said.
When the N.C. Department of Transportation announced it would replace the N.C. Highway 32 bridge over Runyon Creek, city officials worried over how construction of the new bridge would affect Havens Gardens.
Chairman of the Recreation Advisory Committee Joe Taylor said the bridge replacement’s effects on Havens Gardens could be considered a “blessing in disguise.”
The committee held the public hearing after the council said it wanted more public input on the project. Concept C was not the committee’s original choice from among several proposed plans, but later it emerged as the preferred option. Concept C differs from the other plans in that it does not include a boardwalk along the Pamlico River.
Instead of a boardwalk on the waterfront, Concept C uses a trail that would connect East Main Street to a proposed walkway that will go under the new N.C. Highway 32 bridge. Between the walkway and street, the trail will parallel the park’s waterfront. The walkway will connect the northern and southern parts of Havens Garden, which are separated by N.C. 32.
Concept C also calls for two picnic shelters, a pavilion, fenced play area, restrooms, two new fishing piers, a parking area for boat trailers and retaining the existing boat ramp on Runyon Creek. It creates a safer realignment of the intersection of Main and Hudnell streets and removes confusing traffic patterns resulting in more park area, its supporters said.
Several people at the hearing suggested Concept C be modified so it calls for one fishing pier instead of two extending out over the Pamlico River and eliminating one of the two proposed picnic shelters, the one at the western end of Havens Gardens. One person at the hearing suggested keeping all existing live oaks and cypress trees at the waterfront park.
Concepts A and D were dismissed as not providing enough green space, according to a record of comments made at the March 16 hearing. Concept B, similar to Concept C, received a smattering of support at the hearing. Concept B, which called for removing East Main Street east of Simmons Street, was not endorsed by the committee.