Ongoing Support for the Public Full-size Field at Old North Durham Park

There is an outstanding 2005 City Council directive (Resolution #9281, Sept. 6, 2005) to upgrade and maintain Old North Durham Park as a full-sized, 330ft x 180ft athletic field [1].

Unfortunately, a small group of real estate developers, in and around Central Park School for Children, have for over six years obstructed funding for the full-size field and worked to block the field’s upgrade despite overwhelming public support for the City’s original master plan [2].

In the spring of 2011, the existing park users and the surrounding neighborhood voiced its resounding opposition to a new, privately-developed master plan that notably eliminated the full-size field. The neighborhood demanded the implementation of the City Council’s 2005 directive.

Despite this, we were recently notified by Durham Parks and Recreation of its intention to cede to demands made by these developers and apply for NC state grant money to implement the privately-designed, CPSC-endorsed master plan.

In other words, public officials and public money continue to be used as tools by private developers in our neighborhood for a development plan that undermines the decisions already made by our elected officials, and which does not have the support, nor does it serve the interests of, existing neighborhood residents.

Due to the repeated obstruction of City Council directive #9281 by these developers, our city and neighborhood residents have been effectively denied full use and enjoyment of a valuable public resource.

With the well-known and dire shortage of full-sized athletic fields in our city and the readily accessible multipurpose amenities in parks within walking distance, we would like to see Old North Durham Park as a quality full-sized athletic field that can be used for both youth and adult athletic games, practice, open play, and general community use.

Given the $222,879 appropriated specifically for OND Park, the $38 million bond money allocated to DPR in 2005, the $800,000 paid to the City from the sale of Erwin Field Park to Duke University in 2008 (earmarked for the upgrade of other athletic fields), and a $1.1. million DPR budget surplus for 2010-11, besides the wishes of a few developers, there is absolutely no reason why the City’s 2005 directive has not been implemented [3] [4].

Note: The statement above was sent by El Kilombo on November 11, 2011 to Virginia Bridges (The Durham News/ The N&O) in response to a request for comment about Old North Durham Park.

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