Old North Durham Park Timeline

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December 9, 1992: Durham Public Schools Board of Education grants North Durham School Park (now known as Old North Durham Park) to the City of Durham, in exchange for Edgemont Park.

August 4, 2003: City sells the Old National Guard Armory building, which abuts ONDPark, to Central Park School for Children. This sale includes the only vehicle entrance for the park. The 25,426-sq-ft building and land was sold for $205,000, despite a tax-assessed value of $1,150,394.

November 17, 2003: Durham Parks and Recreations adopts its 2003-2013 Durham Parks and Recreation Master Plan, indicating the significant shortage of soccer fields in Durham, and noting plans for the upgrade of the full-size athletic field at Old North Durham Park.

2004: City authorizes 2004-05 Capital Improvement Plan appropriating $887,000 for “field renovation” at six athletic fields, including Old North Durham Park.

February 2004: Central Park School for Children contracts the Natural Learning Initiative Group paying them $17,000 to draw up plans for Old North Durham Park.

June 7, 2004: Memo from Guillo Rodriguez, Landscape Services Manager, through General Services Director and City Manager to City Council Members addressing Old North Durham Park’s current conditions and short-term and long-range plans.  Plans in the budget include installation of:

  • “a six-foot wide compacted gravel path from the sidewalk on Foster Street into the park”
  • “a permanent automatic irrigation system, extensive subsurface drainage will be installed and new top soil will be brought in.  The field will be ‘crowned” once again to provide positive surface water flow…”
  • “A new stairway must be designed to link the [city-owned] parking lot above with the park below.  Alternatively, the Ctiy will discuss with TROSA the possibility of creating an easement to the existing stone stairway directly behind the TROSA building (formerly Old North Durham School).  Either solution will create much-needed parking adjacent to the park and enhance public access”

September 6, 2005: City Council passes resolution (#9281) reaffirming its earlier commitment to upgrading the full-size athletic field at OND Park. The resolution stated, among other improvements for OND Park:

“The athletic field in the park (330 ft by 180 ft) will be renovated with grading, sod, and irrigation. This field will serve tournament level and adult soccer as well as junior-level games, several of which can be played simultaneously across the width of the field…With the current shortage of athletic fields in Durham, DPR staff feels that we cannot afford to reduce or lose one of the existing fields.”

Also on Sept. 6, 2005, City Council approves the installation by CPSC of playground equipment made possible through a county public funds grant, emphasizing that the playground equipment must not hinder the city’s existing park planning of the entire rest of the site.

November 15, 2005: At the Old North Durham Neighborhood Association (ONDNA) Board meeting, Vicky Patton, wife of developer Bob Chapman and then Director of Central Park School for Children requests that “ONDNA support a motion to stop the current plans for the park and instead hire a planner to make it more broadly useful.”  Meeting notes also state, “if anything is going to change, the neighborhood has to dig in hard to get this changed; it needs to be done with Central Park…” and continues that they can halt the city’s plans to develop the full-size field, even though the city has already put out construction bids for the improvement of the full-size soccer field.  After this meeting, ONDNA reverses its previous support for the improvement of the full-size athletic field and instead works against the city’s plans.

December 5, 2005: City Council authorizes a 20-year-lease to TROSA for $1 per year of the city-owned parking lot at the Geer St. entrance to Old North Durham Park. According to internal city documents, the market value for this lease is $28,800. City takes on transaction costs for lease including $2,775.85 survey. TROSA begins regularly locking the access gate, hindering public access to the park’s eastern entrance,

December 12, 2005: Email from Durham Parks and Recreation Assistant Director Beth Timson reminding Central Park School for Children to install the required “Open Space and Trails Grant” sign that notes the playground equipment in OND Park has public funding and is open to the public for use.  Central Park School for Children never erects this sign.

February 21, 2006: Memo from Darrell R. Crittendon, then Director of Parks and Recreation to Councilman Eugene Brown providing an update on the status of the city’s OND Park improvement. A full-size soccer field had been approved, with Capital Improvement Program funding already authorized,  and  Storm Water services had committed to help pay for a damaged storm water line under the field as part of the upgrade.

August 1, 2006: Parking lot next to east park entrance is sold to TND Capital Management LLC (owned by Bob Chapman) for $375,000. Chapman reserves lot for exclusive use by customers of Pantanjali’s Yoga, Trotter Building and Central Park School for Children.

November 15, 2006: By this date, engineers have already submitted a design proposal for the repairs under review by Stormwater Services.  Drainage repairs by Stormwater services just need to be coordinated with other construction under the General Services Department. Capital Improvement Program Status Report on Athletic Field Renovations) estimates Old North Durham Park’s renovation completion date at around the end of 2008.

February 5, 2007: Draft lease agreement from CPSC is sent from attorney Jay Freeman to Sandra Harper, Real Estate Division Manager of the General Services Department. The $10/year, 10-year lease of OND Park to CSPC transfers significant control over decision-making, maintenance, development, rental, reservation, and use of the park to CPSC. See more details about the lease.

November 8, 2007: In City Council work session, DPR recommends that the city authorize leasing Old North Durham Park to the Central Park School for Children Foundation (which is a separate entity from the school) for $10/year for 10 years. The proposal is referred back to the General Services Department due to major concerns and opposition expressed by neighbors.

December 18, 2007: In a follow up public meeting with DPR Director Rhonda Parker and staff member Beth Timson, residents express strong disapproval for transferring management and development control of the park from the city to private entities such as the Central Park School for Children and urge city officials to upgrade the full-size soccer field as originally committed by the city.

November 17, 2008: The City Council approves the sale of Erwin Field Park (5.5 acres) to Duke University for $700,000, removing yet another city park and soccer field from public use.  The City receives $700,000 cash from Duke at closing of the sale on January 28, 2009.  The contract states:

“the City is willing to sell Erwin Field Park to the University in order to have funding to construct a replacement soccer field or fields in another location to meet pressing park and recreational needs of the City.”

October 21, 2010: City Council chooses not to vote on CPSC/FONDP’s  proposed “Master Plan” for Old North Durham Park (which among other things significantly reduces the size of the 330’x 220’ soccer field) and instead sends it back to the City Manager. The Council’s decision is based on the following concerns: the potential loss of a soccer field that the city desperately needs; the fact that there had been no public participation in the planning process; and the fact that there were a large number of residents present who protested the Master Plan based on concern over both the reduction in the size of the soccer field and the control of the park planning process by private actors with access to private investment.

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