Released Designs Spur Excitement for Cary Downtown Park

The Town of Cary is seeking items for a Cary150 time capsule that will be buried at the Downtown Park.
The Town of Cary is seeking items for a Cary150 time capsule that will be buried at the Downtown Park.

With designs released to the public, local residents no longer have to imagine what a completed Downtown Cary Park will look like.

At a recent quarterly Town Council meeting, updated artist renderings designed by OJB Landscape Architecture showed off unique circular architecture for the sprawling park that will soon expand six more acres around the fountain in Town Square.

After the Aug. 17 update, council member Don Frantz shared images of what the park will look like on Facebook. Excitement has been building on social media ever since.

“It got a lot of really good positive responses,” said Doug McRainey, Director of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources. “People are excited; The big question is ‘When, when, when do we get to see this?’”

The park, located in the square surrounded by Walker, Academy, Park and Walnut streets, is expected to be completed in 2023. When it’s done, it will offer mixed-use for residents of all ages and interests.

Among its features, the park will boast a dog park, playground, water features, an outdoor pavilion and grassy areas and benches. The park will have the capacity to host art exhibits and classes, fitness programs, book clubs, concerts and other outdoor performances.

McRainey said the hope is to draw people to the downtown area for activities from morning until dark, harkening back to comments from Town Manager Sean Stegall about what kind of investment the park will be for the community.

“He said, ‘You know, this isn’t really about the park,’” McRainey recalled. “‘We’re doing this for kind of the ripple effect, the potential investment into downtown.’ So, we have high hopes that this park will obviously be something that the Cary citizens will identify with from wherever you are in Cary, whether you’re out west or to the south, they’ll view this as their park.”

Plans for a downtown Cary gathering place have been in motion for a long time. In 2001, the Town Council approved the Town Center Area Plan, which included a park as a focal point.

After years of planning, phase one of that park plan was completed in 2017 with the Town Square and fountain. The approval of a $112 million parks bond in 2019 allocated $50 million to finish the rest of the park.

The groundwork for the next phase of construction is already underway. A park basin and storm water pond will be constructed soon, while basic utilities for the park are expected to be built this fall and winter, McRainey said.

A bid for the construction of the park is expected next spring, with ground breaking in May 2021. The park could be ready for public enjoyment as early as summer 2023.

“We’re very excited,” McRainey said. “The architecture is very unique for Cary; it’s circular. We have a great firm working on that architecture (and) the firm designed the park. They put together a great team, and we’re very, very excited about the product.”

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