Residents eager to see park’s impact on traffic

Neighbors living near the Morrison Family YMCA learned a little more recently about what the expansion of the Ballantyne Community Park will do to traffic when the park opens in October.

The park is a combined project between the YMCA and Mecklenburg County Parks and Recreation. There’s currently one soccer field on the land, which connects to the YMCA at 9405 Bryant Farms Road. Over the next few months crews will work to expand the park with four baseball/softball fields, a bathroom and shelter and more parking. People will start seeing crews placing stakes in the ground in three or four weeks to mark where work will take place, according to project manager Lee Jones. Crews then will build a temporary bridge crossing a creek tributary to cut down on the environmental impact of workers reaching the park land, then the clearing of coniferous trees and shrubs from the land. Grading operations and infrastructure work will follow, with the fields then opening on a limited basis while grass seed takes root and starts to grow.

Jones anticipates the park opening in October, though a grand-opening ceremony hasn’t been scheduled yet.

The county held a public forum Feb. 25 for residents to give their input on the planned expansion. Jones said the forum was well attended, with many residents wanting to learn more about what impact the park’s increased popularity will have on area roads – especially Community House Road at the entrance to the nearby Cobblestone neighborhood.

City planners already are working on improvements to Community House Road as part of the planned extension of the street over Interstate 485 in the next year. The city had planned to add a roundabout at Community House and Bryant Farms Road to deal with current traffic at the intersection, though the road’s extension in the north may require a second roundabout near the YMCA and Cobblestone neighborhood at Willow Rock Drive, city project engineer Joe Frey recently said. It wasn’t clear exactly what impact the expanded park would have on the traffic flow, Frey said at the time.

“The question that needs to be answered is what sort of residual traffic will (the extension) cause for people who are leaving from the YMCA area and going out to Ballantyne Commons Parkway,” Jones said this week. “Is that going to be a hold-up for traffic? People at Cobblestone … were worried what the turning situation would be out of the park.”

Other than traffic concerns, Jones said many residents were excited about the park’s expansion – especially neighbors with young children who play little league and tee-ball, since the park will have multiple-sized fields. “They were excited about that,” Jones added, saying Forest Hill Church members who attend services at the YMCA on Sundays also are excited about the possibility of an adult softball league.

Park and rec officials will send updates out on the park as work moves forward. Find more information about the Ballantyne Community Park project at the group’s website, www.charmeck.org/MECKLEN BURG/COUNTY/PARKANDRE/Pages/default.aspx.

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