By Michelle Wagner | Outer Banks Voice on August 12, 2020
After more than a year of planning and hosting a number of listening sessions to gather citizen input, Manteo officials say they anticipate construction of the Manteo Town Common to begin in November and to be completed by early spring 2021.
Located in the heart of the town at the old Fort Raleigh hotel site, the site will include a town park with 60 parking spaces as well as natural landscaping, sitting areas, pathways and green space.
On Aug. 11, the Manteo Planning Board unanimously approved the site plan for the Town Common, which will cover just over 50,000 square feet of space nestled between Budleigh and Ananias Dare streets. Manteo has entered into a 25-year lease with Dare County to develop and maintain the site, which will be completed in two phases.
“It’s pretty remarkable to be able to get both a beautiful park and the parking lot…it brings aesthetics and function into a really important part of our town,” noted Planning Board Chair Sherry Wickstrom, who also serves on the Town Common Task Force.
The first phase of the project will include the parking spaces as well as lighting, landscaping, pathways and the extension of utilities for future restrooms anticipated in phase two of construction. Project Engineer John DeLucia, of Albemarle & Associates, Ltd., said town officials have asked for shade trees to be planted, as well as native plants that are drought tolerant, fragrant, colorful and appealing to birds and pollinators.
According to Town Manager James Ayres, the town has budgeted $732,844 for the project and in addition, has received a $221,885 grant for the project from the Dare County Tourism Board. The municipality is also awaiting word on two other state grants it has applied for.
In an interview with the Voice, Ayers praised the project, noting that it not only helped alleviate parking woes in the downtown area but would also be “a great town park with sitting areas, pathways and more.”
Restrooms as well as potential shade areas, such as a trellis, are planned for the second phase of the project. Lighting will be part of both phases and will be consistent with lighting at Creef Park and Magnolia Market.
The park, DeLucia told the Voice, “is designed to be a quiet green space where people can sit on a bench and read or mediate and be in the shade.”
Wickstrom elaborated during the Aug. 11 meeting. “It’s really to engage all the senses so there will be this wonderful sound of song birds and animals that will find this a great habitat. There will definitely be fragrance with the jasmine and other plantings. And it’ll be a visual beauty as well.”
Demolition of the county-owned buildings on the site, including the historic Fort Raleigh Hotel, was completed last year. The site plan does not require approval from the Board of Commissioners.
DeLucia said that construction documents are being finalized with the hope of going out to bid at the end of August. He anticipates Manteo Commissioners could award a bid at their October meeting and construction could begin in November.
“Everyone is shooting for this to be ready for the springtime,” he concluded.
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