Project awaits funds

Published 5:30 am Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Contributing Editor

The opening of the new bridge across Runyon Creek at Havens Gardens opens the way for major improvements to the waterfront park in Washington to begin.
But those major improvements likely won’t happen right away because the money to pay for them has not yet been obtained.
In April 2009, the Washington City Council authorized further development of an improvement plan for Havens Gardens. Those improvements could not be made while the new bridge was being constructed. At that April 2009 meeting, the council endorsed Concept C, the preferred plan for modifying the waterfront park, which abuts the Pamlico River and Runyon Creek.
The city is seeking money to implement Concept C, or at least some of its components. That money likely will come in the form of a grant or grants.
Concept C includes the following features:
• Safer realignment of the Main Street-Hudnell Street intersection and removal of confusing traffic patterns that will result in additional park area.
• Creation of a landscaped entrance into Washington using park property and the N.C. Department of Transportation right of way.
• A modified layout of the park that includes tree-lined parking, walkways, a boardwalk connecting the north and south sides of the park, picnic shelters and fishing piers.
• Improved walkways near the park that connect neighborhoods, Jack’s Creek greenway and public facilities such as Veterans Park.
As it seeks grant funding to help pay for major improvements at Havens Gardens, the city is upgrading existing facilities and equipment at the park as it gets the money to do so, said Phil Mobley, the city’s parks and recreation director.
“If we can get this grant, it will help us a lot,” Mobley said Tuesday.
The picnic shelters at Havens Gardens have been renovated with new lumber, which was used to “shore up” the shelters, Mobley noted. New roofs for the shelters are in the works, Mobley said.
Better, safer playground equipment will replace the existing equipment, Mobley said.
The fishing pier and segment of the bulkhead at Havens Gardens are in line for a makeover, he said.
One of those walkways that is part of Concept C will be over Runyon Creek, with a segment of it passing under the new bridge. Concrete pilings for the section were driven into the creek when pilings for the new bridge were driven.
While the segment of the walkway directly under the new bridge will be concrete, the northern and southern ends of the walkway will be timber.
The concrete decking will be a little lower than the timber segments.
Plans call for the walkway to be built over Runyon Creek, with the walkway connecting to land on the west bank of the creek. The walkway, estimated to be about 300 feet long, would be formed something like this bracket: ].
The walkway, which will have observations areas, would connect parts of Havens Gardens that are separated by the highway, allowing pedestrians to move between those areas without crossing the highway. The walkway also would connect boat ramps north of the highway to sections of Havens Gardens south of the highway.