BY BRANDY TEMPLETON
The Iredell County Parks & Recreation Department held a community meeting on Thursday evening to update residents about the development of Jennings Park.
Construction on phase 1 is scheduled to begin in late 2022 or early 2023 and be finished in 2024. Phase 1 includes the infrastructure, 450 parking spaces, site amenities, trails, restrooms, a concession area, and picnic area, officials said.
Jennings Park is located on 69.1 acres located at 141 Deitz Road, north of Statesville.
In November 2015, the North Piedmont Babe Ruth League donated 19.65 acres. Previously known as Sertoma Park, the property was a baseball complex with three lighted baseball fields, one unlit field, a concession stand, restrooms, and a clubhouse.
After the donation, the county raised additional money for the project by selling property in Olin where a county park had been planned. With the proceeds of that sale, the county secured 49.45 additional acres bordering the donated land.
In August 2018, the Parks & Recreation Department was awarded a $418,000 PARTF grant for Jennings Park.
In the past five years, the county has spent approximately $40,000 on safety audits and small amenity upgrades such as new bleachers.
Michelle Hepler, who recently retired as parks & recreation director, showed conceptual drawings of the first phase during Thursday’s meeting. Charlotte-based Stewart Construction has been selected to turn the drawings into reality.
“We’re really close — if not 100% — funded for Phase 1,” she said.
Project manager Emily Blackwell Stewart explained that the initial plans have been reconfigured due to the discovery of wetlands. When wetlands are involved, they can’t be disturbed.
Now, the baseball fields must be rearranged to accommodate necessary changes. During the construction, the plan is to try and keep existing park amenities open and functional during Phase 1 construction.
“We may have to move dirt around, but we’re going to try to keep those areas in use,” Hepler shared.
County Commissioner Melissa Neader and County Manager Beth Mull were among those who attended the meeting to show support for the project.
Board member Barb Thompson Thorson is excited about the future of Jennings Park.
“It has something for all ages,” she said.
Several board members and others thanked Hepler for her hard work and dedication for Jennings Park.
Neader said she is impressed by the team’s efforts.
“When you leave here today, know that you have done a top-notch job,” she said. “What you have presented us is incredible.”
Jennings Park Site Map