KDH okays plan to transform Meekins Field

By on September 15, 2020

Rendering of plans for the Meekins Field park.

The Kill Devil Hills Board of Commissioners on Sept. 14 gave the green light to move forward with an $888,0000 project to turn Meekins Field park into a new and improved recreational facility that, along with already existing tennis courts, will include a soccer/multi-use field and smaller practice field.

The park, when completed, will also feature a large playground area, picnic shelters, an art wall and even a splash pad — an area for water play that will be the first of its kind in Dare County.

The Kill Devil Hills Board of Commissioners authorized town staff to apply for an Outer Banks Visitors Bureau Tourism Impact Grant to help fund the project. In February, the commissioners approved the recommendation by the town’s West Side Recreation Group to make the improvements to the park.

Of the grant application, Commissioner Terry Gray noted, “It’s a good way to take a recreation area and bring it to a state-of-the-art facility that will attract people. I am pretty excited about this.”

Under the terms of the grant, the municipality would have to provide at least 50 percent of the cost of the project, Planning Director Meredith Guns told the commissioners on Sept. 14. The Visitors Bureau typically announces recipients in December, and Guns said some preliminary site work could be done prior to that so the town would be able to move forward with construction quickly.

Guns said that some features of the park would likely be complete and open for use by the summer of 2021.

Currently closed due to construction of the new municipal water tower and communications monopole, Meekins Field has experienced significant disruption as a result of the projects and would have required significant funds to even return it to its previous condition.

The facility, when complete, will include a 64-space parking area with a circular drop off area and art wall. There will also be restrooms near the picnic shelter and a separate picnic shelter for the tennis courts. A sidewalk/exercise track will be installed around the entire facility. The access road that leads to the Emergency Medical Services facility on the south side of the project will also be widened to create a two-way traffic pattern.

The Visitors Bureau’s Tourism Impact Grants are designed to assist Dare County municipalities and non-profit organizations with projects, programs or services that are needed due to the impact of tourism such as beach accesses, walkways and attractions.

During the 2019-2020 fiscal year, the Outer Banks Visitors Bureau awarded $851,000 in tourism impact grants. Some of those projects included $90,950 for the Dare County Arts Council’s courtyard project, roughly $148,000 in pedestrian improvements in Duck, $221,885 for the first phase of Manteo’s Town Commons project and $25,750 in bridge and walkway improvements for the Frisco Native American Museum.

Commissioner B.J. McAvoy pressed the board to consider a turf alternative for the fields rather than sod, in exchange for eliminating another feature of the park such as the picnic shelter. But Guns said the picnic shelters, which do not exist at any other town park, are an important element of the plan that the Visitors Bureau will take into consideration.

Guns suggested that if the board wished to pursue turf in the future, it could seek an alternate bid for turf when the project goes out to bid in order to get an estimate. She also said the board could consider waiting to see if such an expense was warranted, and then include it in a future recreational facilities improvement plan.



Comments

  • Courtney Webster

    But will a softball field be included in this plan?!? We have plenty of soccer fields! That was the field the adult softball league plays on and if you tear it down the league has to play at the rec center and try to work their schedule around other leagues. I hope they consider this and keep a baseball/ softball field!

    Tuesday, Sep 15 @ 4:38 pm
  • Daryl

    I shake my head when I read this. I was part of the West side committee to help figure out how we can re-invent/update some or one of our local parks. Personally, I spoke with people in charge of the county, our town, the school board and tourism and promoted a plan to partner up together that they all were on board with. The plan was to partner up and build soccer fields behind First Flight Middle School. They need a soccer field anyways! They have the parking already in place as well as a concession stand and bathrooms. Our school does not have the money to do this on their own and we’re a small community to why not work together for a common interest. Not to mention the amount of grants collectively they could apply for to cover costs. To build the soccer fields at the school we would need to put in or redo the irrigation to cover the grounds properly. We would need to groom the land to make sure it has run off and in the right direction. Add lights. And put in one turf and one grass field that meets regulation size dimensions. When we were in the committee and the town said it wanted soccer fields at Meekins Park we were told the large field could only be 3/4 size and the small field was a 3v3 field. That does not meet regulation size. If we were to build the fields at FFMS, we could then promote tournaments with the number of fields we would then have available. This is where the tourism understood this brings families to the Outer Banks to spend money. Soccer tends to be an off season or shoulder season sport. Here is the kicker, land the size of Meekins Field is a huge asset when you live on an island with limited space. If we built these soccer fields behind FFMS, we would still have the Meekins Field available to offer other community wants. I’m sure not everyone here plays soccer! Didn’t the town promise the softball players they would put their field back after the water tower was built and the old one torn down? Pretty sure that’s somewhere in writing for someone to pull up.

    Wednesday, Sep 16 @ 1:54 pm
  • Ken Fucci

    Doesn’t seem right that that softball field was eliminated and soccer fields, which we have plenty, gets more fields. What exactly were they planning, how to elimimate adult softball in the area? Seems like planning was the last thing that was done.

    Thursday, Sep 17 @ 9:51 am
  • C

    I agree with the fact that we have plenty of soccer fields on the beach. Another concern I have is how will traffic affect the EMS and Fire departments? The road beside that leads back to the side parking near the EMS building is already pretty narrow; how will it affect emergency responses on busier days?

    Thursday, Sep 17 @ 10:01 am
  • B-Rad

    B.J. McAvoy’s idea of turf alternative would save the town A LOT of maintenance costs and always have a field to play on because they never get muddy or have standing water if installed correctly. Initial cost is higher but the future savings are way more than that cost, especially that size and so much better for our environment/water supply, etc.

    Thursday, Sep 17 @ 11:55 am