Cavalier Park work picking up pace

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Despite a few weather delays, the total transformation of Cavalier Park is coming along nicely and the park is set to reopen with added amenities in the spring.

“The big storm really messed us up. Besides being wet for about two weeks, the storm hit right when we were going to start on the bathrooms, which also house all the controls for the lights and irrigation,” said Parks and Recreation Director David Lee. “So, we can’t sod the fields until the bathrooms are close to being finished.”

The park near the intersection of Ward Boulevard and Branch Street was often used for soccer and walking, but was prone to flooding. Parks and recreation staff came up with a plan to improve drainage and add amenities like pickleball courts, a playground and the city’s first paved track. The project came with a $750,000 price tag, but a state Parks and Recreation Trust Fund, or PARTF, grant covered half the cost while the Rotary Club of Greater Wilson put $100,000 toward the dollar-for-dollar match required by the city.

“We’ve been wanting to do something with this park for 10 years and I am thankful the Greater Wilson Rotary Club helped make it possible,” Lee said. “I don’t think folks understand that their financial commitment to the construction of the park was by far the biggest one throughout the state by a civic group during the PARTF grant process. It made quite an impression with the board that votes on the grants.”

Once the project is complete, the popular spot will be handicapped-accessible and renamed Rotary Park.

“I have heard nothing but excitement from folks,” Lee said. “It’s looking like pickleball is going to really take off. I’m betting that there will be a lot of pickleball equipment given as Christmas presents this year.”

Pickleball — a combination of badminton, tennis and table tennis — is a newer sport that is gaining popularity, especially among senior citizens because it is a lower impact activity than other sports. The three courts at Rotary Park will be the city’s first in the sport, but Lee the new park will have something for everybody, including multipurpose fields, shelters and a playground.

“I’ve been amazed at the space we have out there,” he said. “The walking trail is awesome and I really think we have a great plan for the entire area.

“I can’t wait to see people enjoying the trail late in the afternoon as the lights come on until the park closes.”

Construction should wrap up in the next month or so, but the fields will be roped off as the grass takes root. Lee said a grand opening celebration likely will happen in the spring.

“A park opening celebration needs to be with some blue skies and warm weather,” he said.