The Town of Leland’s Municipal Park Plan

by May 1, 2018Brunswick County Life, North Brunswick

The Town of Leland is making plans to revamp its Town Hall campus into an innovative Municipal Park.

“We expect a higher standard in everything we are doing,” Niel Brooks emphatically states. “We want to be innovative and cutting edge.”

Brooks is the assistant town manager for the Town of Leland, and while his remarks could apply to the town’s governing philosophy these days, this time he is pointing to the plans for a new Municipal Park that sit on his desk. His excitement is palpable as he walks through the engineering documents and columns of numbers.

Tyezen Smith, 11, plays on the playground at Leland Municipal Park. PHOTOGRAPHY BY Michael Cline Photography

The new Municipal Park plan takes the existing campus at 102 Town Hall Drive and reimagines it. The town hall, the library and the Brunswick Senior Center will stay the same, but the rest of the space will be updated with a splashpad, an amphitheater, an expanded and accessible playground, more trails (with 6,300 linear feet and a fitness trail), a dog park, a veterans’ memorial, outdoor basketball courts, a community garden, new restrooms and covered pavilions.

While the final renderings for the new Municipal Park were done with a mind toward future growth and capacity (the Harrington Village apartment complex across the street is springing up), the need for change was originally driven by current use. With the library, senior center and town hall sharing the area, there has been more traffic and use. Meanwhile, the outdoor concert series has been burgeoning in popularity. In years past, attendance would reach 300 people maximum if there was a popular act. But now all concerts are drawing more than 300 people.

“When we poll people, the number one thing they want is an outdoor performance space,” Brooks says.

Brooks knows this because the Town of Leland listened intently to its residents to shape the plan. Committees, boards and town meetings all opened for public comment, and today the town is pleased to move forward creating a new space they know the public will embrace.

There are five phases to completion, and the first will tackle the biggest chunk with the amphitheater, playground, splashpad, restrooms and memorial. The memorial is not yet designed; following suit with the rest of the project, the town intends to put it out for public input and comment.

Ultimately, town leaders feel this new park considers the public’s desires alongside the town needs and strikes a balance between functional yet creative design. “We aren’t creating just any park that could be in Town B with X amount of people,” Brooks says. “This park is a reflection of this [intent].”

For example, the splashpad, equipped with LED lighting, will be a smooth design with a plaza-like feel. The goal is to make it part of the landscape and enjoyable for citizens of all ages and interests.

But all this comes at a cost, of course. The entire plan as it currently is designed has an $8 million price tag.  And while Leland Town Council approved the plan at the end of 2017, it is dependent on funding. The money for the new Municipal Park will come from a bond, grants or bank financing. Or perhaps a combination of all. Ultimately, it will depend on how quickly town leaders decide this needs to move.

But as Brooks looks at the plans, he stresses that this “is happening.” While the timeline may not be firm, Brooks is confident that Area 1 work will be complete within the next five years.

“The Town of Leland is trying to create its own identity as we are moving forward,” he says. “We have had to forge our own path. Which is why Leland is unique in this region: It is this completely independent entity that is going its own way.”

And the way it wants to go? A park for the town of the future.

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