Board Approves $10 Million In Park Upgrades; Signs Off On Subdivision

The Harrisburg Town Council unanimously approved the $10 million renovation of Harrisburg Park on Monday night, an overhaul that adds a new amphitheater and splash pad, increases the number of athletic fields from two to five, and authorizes the installation of new playground equipment and nearly two-dozen public restrooms. 

The work will be financed with a 20-year loan secured by the town through Sterling National Bank, and force the park’s closure for nearly 10 months starting on Monday, September 16, and continuing through Friday, July 3, 2020. The pending closure will require the temporary relocation of both games and concerts.

The plan is to reopen Harrisburg Park in time for next year’s Fourth of July celebration.

“This is the largest single debt financing we’ve ever done for the town,” said Town Finance Director J. Lee Connor Jr. prior to the board approving the project, and repeating an observation made earlier by Parks and Recreation Director Daniel Stines.

Mr. Connor explained that the town has secured a fixed 2.85-percent interest rate on the $10 million loan, and that the total cost of the project will come in at slightly more than $12.9 million once interest is factored in. Earlier in the evening, town officials confirmed that the recent tax increase was designed to offset the estimated cost of the project.

The entrance to Harrisburg Park.

The vote came after Mr. Stines offered the board and audience members a lengthy overview of the project, explaining that the core upgrades are designed to last between 25 and 50 years.

“I’m actually a pretty conservative person, so yeah, 10 million bucks is a lot of money to spend on a project,” Mr. Stines said. “But at the same time, I think we’ll do anything for our kids.

“And if we can take our personal feelings out of that, and what this actually means to the community and the kids who are 2, 5 and 8 right now … I think you’ll see a different perspective on that,” he continued.

The approved plan also calls for the construction of a second entrance on the western end of the park, as well as the expansion of walking and biking trails, and the addition of new parking spaces.

The town had previously acquired 40 acres directly adjacent to Harrisburg Park to accommodate the upcoming renovations. Presently, Harrisburg Park measures around 37 acres.

In November 2017, taxpayers rejected a $21 million bond that would have financed most of the upgrades with one exception. The revised and now-approved proposal does not call for the construction of a new community center, originally projected to cost more than $10 million on its own.

Future plans call for the eventual addition of a two-story recreational building, but that would be primarily financed and occupied by the YMCA. Work on that building, which is expected to run several million dollars, is not expected for several more years.

“Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not excited about a $10 million project,” said Town Councilman Ron Smith, who earlier shared that he voted against the 2017 bond that would have financed the upgrades. “But I also understand that we got to pay it forward too, so I’ll be in support tonight.”

The approved plan can be viewed at—3252019?bidId=.

Shea Homes Subdivision OK’d

By a 5-2 vote on Monday, the Harrisburg Town Council also approved a zoning change that permits the construction of 157 new homes on the south side of Stallings Road.

The approved subdivision, called Camellia Gardens, will feature a mix of single- and two-story houses built on approximately 85.4 acres on the south side of Stallings Road. The houses, most of which will sit on quarter-acre parcels, will range in price from $350,000 to $500,000, according to representatives for the developer, Shea Homes of California. The houses will range in size from 2,400 to 3,800 square feet.

The board approved the rezoning of five properties, totaling roughly 44 acres, from Rural Estate District (RE) to Residential Village – Conditional Zoning District (CZ-RV), to accommodate the new subdivision. Approximately 29 acres, or 35 percent of the land, will remain as open space.

As part of the agreement, Shea Homes will contribute to an assortment of road improvements, including the construction of a new roundabout on Stallings Road that will line up with one of two subdivision entrances and the driveway leading to Harrisburg Elementary School.

Town Councilmen Rick Russo and Ron Smith voted against the application.

The Camellia Gardens site plan can be seen here:–Rezoning-Site-Plan-Revised?bidId+.