KDH considers makeover for Meekins Field

By on February 14, 2020

 

The current version of Meekins Field

Meekins Field – one of Dare County’s first recreational facilities that dates back to the mid 1980s – may be in store for a facelift if the Town of Kill Devil Hills moves forward with recommendations from its Westside Recreation Group that include everything from new ballfields to a public art wall and spruced-up playground.

During its Feb. 12 meeting, the Kill Devil Hill Board of Commissioners gave town staff the green light to put together a conceptual site plan for improvements to the 4.6-acre park located just south of the Dare Centre and behind the Kill Devil Hills Fire Department at milepost 7. Staff will also develop a cost analysis and identify potential grant funding for a future project.

A popular spot for pick-up soccer games over the years, the Meekins Field facility includes a playing field, small playground, two tennis courts and restrooms. Made up of two original parcels, the first was sold to the town by Catherine Meekins for $10 and the second by Francis and Virginia Meekins for $1, both with the condition that it be used for a public purpose.

Town officials gather in the mid-1980s to celebrate some of the original improvements made to Meekins Field.

One of its claims to fame is being the home of the northern beaches’ first softball field.

The park, one of the few sites on the northern beaches with recreational field lighting, has been closed during the construction of the municipality’s new water tower and communications monopole, which caused significant damage to the property due to the nature of the work. The former water tower is slated to come down in March, said Assistant Town Planner Cameron Ray.

With the site in disrepair, town officials say now may be an opportune time to make improvements since returning it back to its original condition would be costly anyway.

Among the recommendations made by the Westside group are expanded parking with a drop-off circle and connection to the adjacent shopping center, three multi-use fields, a basketball court and expanded playground area and larger restroom facilities. Formed last year and charged with studying the town’s parks west of U.S. 158, the group is also proposing picnic shelters, a public art wall and additional landscape buffering.

Its recommendations come after the municipality received more than 160 responses from a town-sponsored citizen survey last month seeking public input on Meekins Field and potential improvements to it. Fifty percent of the survey respondents rated their overall opinion of current facility as “fair.”

As for improvements, half of the respondents indicated they’d like to see expanded restroom facilities. Other top priorities included sports courts and fields, recreation programs and paths and greenspace.

Over the years, Kill Devil Hills has maintained an interlocal agreement with Dare County’s recreation department so that the department could use Meekins field for its leagues. The county also helped with maintenance of the park, which was originally funded with the help of a state Parks and Recreation Trust Fund grant.

Meekins Field is expected to remain closed through the summer and possibly into 2021.  Assistant Planner Ray said staff would return to the commissioners, likely by summer, to present its findings before the board decides how it would like to proceed on the project.

 


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