By all appearances, the town of Knightdale going to get a new park.
The town has an option on a $2.9 million downtown parcel of land now owned by former Mayor Billy Wilder and his wife, Libby. It's done due diligence where the land is concerned going through three appraisals to assure it pays a fair price for the land.
The designs by CLH Design of Cary show a beautiful park, a jewel for any town and especially one the size of Knightdale. It will have a playground, an amphitheatre, a dog park, one mile of walking trails, two multi-purpose fields, a camp ground, gardens -- and that's just the first phase. Phase Two features a community center and a skate park.
The price tag for phase one is about $3 million. The town will likely have to borrow $2, 145,000 of the $2.9 million for the land and about $2.5 million for phase one.
The town has a healthy capital reserve account and has been saving two cents on the tax rate or $200,000 a year since it raised taxes two years ago, dedicating the two cents from now on, or at least during the tenure of this council, to capital improvement plans.
And the town has conducted a recreation survey to see just what residents want in a park.
It has covered all the bases. Staff will go the Local Government Commission next week to seek approval to borrow the money. Assistant Manager Seth Lawless expects it to be approved.
Yet all this money during the worst recession since the Great One makes me nervous. Town leaders have a ready argument. Land prices are cheaper now. And they'll never get the chance to buy such a large parcel of land (78 acres) in the heart of downtown. Collections of Knightdale's property taxes remain fairly solid. It actually collected $35,000 more this year than last year, yet it probably won't meet the 97 percent of the levy which is customary, according to finance director Jimmy Overton. That now stands at 90 percent. The plan is not to raise property taxes to pay for the park.
It still makes me nervous. As a family, we aren't taking on anymore debt than we already have, rather saving our nuts for winter. The town is moving full speed ahead on the promise of a turning economy and the old days when shopping centers and residential developments were knocking at Knightdale's door.
Let's just hope Knightdale is right in their optimism.