Charlotte’s first public park reopens soon after a nearly $6 million makeover

Charlotte’s first public park reopens soon after a nearly $6 million makeover

Independence Park. Photo: Ashley Mahoney/Axios

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Independence Park’s $5.9 million facelift is expected to be complete in December.

As you move along 7th Street or Hawthorne Lane in Elizabeth, you can see signs reading “PARK CLOSED.” But you can also see new paths going in, which will ultimately connect the park to Little Sugar Creek Greenway.

State of play: The park was expected to reopen in October, but like a lot of things these days, it’s been delayed.

Details: Renovations include a wider trail, improved playground equipment and accessibility and permanent restrooms on the west side of the park closer to American Legion Memorial Stadium, which the county completed renovations on and opened last summer.

  • Independence Park was originally completed in 1906, making it Charlotte’s first public park, according to Bert Lynn, capital planning division director for Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation. Ease of access for people of all abilities wasn’t taken into consideration when the park was built. 
  • Permanent restrooms are one of the biggest additions, Lynn said. The park has been programmed heavily for years, but never had permanent restrooms, he added.

Why it matters: Charlotte/Mecklenburg ranks 83rd out of 100 U.S. cities for its parks system per nonprofit The Trust for Public Land’s annual report, as Axios’ Danielle Chemtob reported.

  • Yes, but: Charlotte did jump up eight spots from the previous year.
  • This is a notable investment in one of the city’s prominent neighborhood parks.

The big picture: Mecklenburg County has more than 60 active parks and recreation projects. And county commissioners approved $50 million this year for the Parks and Recreation department to buy land for future parks, greenways and nature preserves, as Axios’ Katie Peralta Soloff reported.

Zoom out: The county also has $7 million dedicated to improving existing parks through equity funding, starting with Enderly Park. There are 10 total parks, and the next two scheduled for improvements are Tryon Hills Park and Devonshire Park, which should be done by June 2023.

  • Other parks include: LC Coleman Park, Fred Alexander Park, Harrisburg Road Park, Viemont Park, Grayson Park, Amay James Park and Albemarle Road Park.

What’s next: While the Independence Park will reopen this fall, you may see some landscaping and planting work throughout the end of the year. There will also be a formal unveiling of the park either later this year or early next year.

Independence Park's eastern portion facing Hawthorne Lane. Photo: Ashley Mahoney/Axios

Independence Park’s eastern portion facing Hawthorne Lane. Photo: Ashley Mahoney/Axios

Independence Park's eastern entrance at Greenway Avenue and Park Drive. Photo: Ashley Mahoney/Axios

Independence Park’s eastern entrance at Greenway Avenue and Park Drive. Photo: Ashley Mahoney/Axios

East part of Independence Park

Photo: Ashley Mahoney/Axios

Editor’s note: This story was originally published on Aug. 24, 2022 and was updated on Oct. 31 to reflect the delayed opening.

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