Ballantyne park on target for spring opening

Officials with Mecklenburg County Park & Recreation say the new Ballantyne Community Park going beside the Morrison Family YMCA should open to residents in the spring.

The facility will include four fields that can be used for baseball or softball, a restroom, storage building, picnic shelter, dugouts, multi-purpose field overlays and parking, according to an email from Lee Jones, division director of capital planning services for Mecklenburg County Park & Recreation.

“We have a few more trees to plant, a little fencing to put in and allow for the grass fields to grow in,” Jones said regarding what is left to do before the park can open. Officials had said this summer that a dedication ceremony would be held in the fall, but Jones said the dedication will take place in the spring with the opening.

The park, once open, will add to the park and recreation department’s services in Mecklenburg County, which already include the popular Elon Park just down the road from Morrison YMCA and the recently opened Mecklenburg County Sportsplex in Matthews. The sportsplex, at 1505 Tank Town Road, currently includes five multi-purpose fields for sports such as football, lacrosse or soccer; a shelter area; and a playground. The next phase of the sportsplex project, will include additional fields to a total of 12, another playground and walking trails and should open in two years.

The Ballantyne Community Park will offer something neither the Sportsplex or Elon Park has in embracing America’s pastime.

“There is a dearth of baseball (or) softball fields in the region and the completion of these helps to address that need,” Jones said.

Jones said there is land available in the area “to add other smaller-scale amenities if the need arises,” but once the fields are ready to go in the spring the last phase of the park will be complete.

The park is in partnership with the Morrison YMCA, which will work with Mecklenburg County Park & Recreation to coordinate usage of the fields for events such as local intramural sports games and practices. It’s been a long time in the making, as the park was originally expected to open in 2010. The economy changed those plans, but the two sides continued to work together to make sure the park didn’t fall through.

“This partnership between Mecklenburg County Park & Recreation Department and the YMCA has allowed for the successful development of the Master Plan for the Morrison Family YMCA at Ballantyne Community Park,” Jones said of the continuing efforts. “This plan provides much needed recreational amenities for the citizens of Charlotte Mecklenburg.”

People will eventually access the park through Blakeney Heath Road, YMCA community vice president Steve Bowers said this summer. In the meantime, Charlotte Department of Transportation officials are working on improvements to Community House Road near the YMCA that seeks to alleviate traffic congestion in the area. Road improvements will not be complete by the time the park opens.

Find more information on local park projects at www.parkandrec.com.

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