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As runners and walkers looped the nearly half-mile track at Cavalier Park Tuesday evening, officials and residents met in the center field to discuss a planned $750,000 renovation of the park.
“Next year, Cavalier will be graded with new fields, new bathroom facilities, a lighted walking trail, a playground, pickleball courts and improved parking because I don’t think anyone has come out here and not worried because the road is so close to the fields,” said Parks and Recreation Director David Lee. “We’ve been wanting to do this for 10 years and I’m excited we’re able to bring this together.”
Following an overview of the project and a $100,000 check presentation from the Rotary Club of Greater Wilson, residents got a chance to look at the plans and express their thoughts. Several residents voiced enthusiasm about the new fields, which will have improved drainage with the paved half-mile track used to direct stormwater. The switch from a “crusher run” gravel track was welcomed by some.
“As a mom with two kids and a stroller, I am excited about the paved track,” Taran Dunn wrote on the park renderings.
However, the paving has stirred criticism among others.
“Please consider the walkers... composition track is a must for healthy knees and feet,” wrote Faye Williams.
Several naysayers have been outspoken about their opposition to the pavement but did not attend the meeting. Nearby resident Mary Elizabeth Walker, who was in attendance, said she liked the other upgrades to the park but was frustrated with the plans for the track.
“When I had my son, I’d walk the track with my mom every morning and afternoon,” she said. “We like it because of the easy access and it is soft on our knees.”
On behalf of the Committee for Persons with Disabilities, Wilson Human Relations Director Renee Smith praised the plan to improve accessibility to the park with the paved trail.
“If you have some type of disability or mobility issues, you know how important it is to be able to get around the park,” she said.
Lee said once complete, the park will be renamed Greater Wilson Rotary Park and the track will be the first paved trail in the city’s parks system.
For residents looking to continue their exercise on a softer surface, Matthis Park has a 0.2-mile track and renovations at Lake Wilson will include a 2.2-mile course.
The city has not approved the allocation necessary to get to work on the renovation at Cavalier, but Lee said a budget amendment is anticipated in the coming months. Construction likely would start in early spring and would shutter the park for 4-6 months.
Rotary Club of Greater Wilson president Connor Bedgood, who recalled playing soccer as a kid at Cavalier, said he is looking forward to the improvements. He said he was glad so many residents came out to learn more about the project.
“I thought the turnout was good,” he said. “Overall, it was just good to have a forum for people to voice their opinions and come together as a community to celebrate that we have great parks and facilities in Wilson.”