Brookshire Park now open to the public
By Scott Nicholson
Watauga County’s first new park in 20 years officially opened on Wednesday with a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
Brookshire Park, located along the New River near the county industrial park on Brookshire Road in Boone, is open for public use, though the recreational fields won’t be utilized for county programs until the fall sports season. The park cost just over a million dollars to purchase and construct.
Commission chair Jim Deal said at the ceremony that the park was the result of cooperative efforts and commitment by a number of parties, including county management staff and members of the parks and recreation department. “Thanks go to the parks and recreation staff and volunteers, because they are the people who make projects really happen,” he said. “The park is a tribute to the whole county.”
Deal and commissioners Billy Ralph Winkler and Winston Kinsey were on hand for the opening, as were a number of other county officials. Parks and recreation director Stephen Poulos said a new park was “long past due” because the last county park that opened was the athletic and swim complex in Boone. The county also contributes funding to Valle Crucis Park for some use of those fields.
Poulos, Winkler and Deal also singled out a former county official for her commitment to the project. “We all owe a great debt of gratitude to Ms. Deb Wynne, former Watauga County Parks and Recreation director, whose dedication, passion and perseverance literally planted the first seed in seeing this park grow into a reality,” he said.
Poulos said with 70 youth and adult soccer teams in the fall, and over 30 coach-pitch baseball and tee-ball teams, the park would host a number of games and practices each year.
The park also contains a paved walking track that’s just over four-tenths of a mile long, a covered picnic shelter and two grills, and rest rooms. The lighted fields can be used for several games or practices at once, depending on the sport and age group.
The park was purchased in 2002 with the help of a $250,000 grant from the state Parks and Recreation Trust Fund. The Town of Boone also contributed $67,500 toward the purchase of the 7.4-acre property through money set aside as part of the town’s lawsuit settlement with the county over the former landfill. The total property cost was $417,000.
The county approved a bid of $449,000 to Vannoy and Sons Construction, though several change orders pushed the price higher. The commissioners decided last year to plant the field and wait for the grass to take root rather than spending an additional $23,000 to place sod on the field and have it available for use last fall.
The project was also delayed by the N.C. Department of Transportation’s paving and widening of Brookshire Road, addressing floodway regulations, and meeting Town of Boone planning requirements.
Wynne commended county officials and staff and said, “I think the park is truly outstanding and I know it will be a great recreational benefit to the residents who use it.”
Deal said the park would be called “Brookshire Park” for the immediate future, though the name may be changed later.
•Scott Nicholson can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org