Christopher Sartorius | Indy Week

Christopher Sartorius 
Member since Jul 29, 2017


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Re: “Crooked Creek Park Supporters Pack Wake Meeting; Proposal Still Faces Questions

I was among those that attended the meeting (work session) on Monday. It was the most attended Commissioner's meeting that several people with over 20 years of experience could remember! Some of the most important issues that were discussed and that I noticed the author of the article did not mention are the following:

1) The Commissioners discussed several sources of funding for the park that could reduce the cost of the park substantially. Those sources included grants from The Clean Water Management Trust Fund, the Wake County park trust fund, and financial credits from the future 540 highway project for environmental improvements.

2) The staff estimate for $15 million for converting the park was admittedly based on the concept map that was made to show practically all possible amenities that the land could support. Some of those amenities in the concept map included a splash pad, a skate park, sculpture garden, observation tower, dog park, etc. None of those amenities are available at the other regional parks that I am aware of. The estimate also included a 20% contingency expense cushion that is 10% higher than previous park project estimates.

3) The "minimal" park build out was limited to upgrading the 4.5 miles of trails, adding picnic shelters, bringing facilities up to ADA standards and sprucing them up, and adding a playground and disc golf course along with already having open field play available. Without the extra 10% contingency costs, the park cost would be lowered to $8 million without considering the grants available to lower the cost of the park acquisition.

4) Ron Nawojczyks' estimate that the park could be made ready for the public with expenses of $240,000 was based on figures provided by David Carter, former director of the Wake County parks system for 22 years.

5) It was also admitted by the park staff that their cost projections tend to be conservative, and that the actual cost of the planned amenity tends to be less expensive than the estimate.

4 likes, 2 dislikes
Posted by Christopher Sartorius on 08/15/2017 at 3:53 PM

Re: “If Wake County Doesn’t Have Extra Money for Schools, Should It Spend Millions to Turn a Failed Golf Course into a Park?

It is important to understand that the article in the INDY is factually incorrect and misleading in much of its reportage. It is hard to vote against adding inexpensive green space to the county and preserving a vital watershed that will provide drinking water to Fuquay Varina in the future, so they can't argue honestly in this debate. I've listed some of the verifiable facts that the article did not disclose or misled about:

1) The argument used by some that the proposed park would cost $15 million or thereabouts is just not accurate. Some County estimates included all of the amenities displayed on the concept map presented of the park. However, the "concept map was intended to show only what could be built on the park not what would be built. In fact, the land is practically park ready now, (with over 4.5 miles of trails, water and other utilities, an irrigation system, community center, and parking among other improvements) and it is quite realistic that it will cost less than $5 million, including the land, to complete the park development. What is built within the park all depends on what the county and the public decides it wants in the park through the course of open public discussions. A budget could also be set for the project costs.

2) The benefits of conserving the former golf course would include stabilizing the land values along the Hilltop Needmore corridor, which in turn would increase Wake Countys tax revenues. Preserving the land would also ensure a clean water supply for residents in Fuquay Varina. The South Wake area and the Hilltop Needmore corridor are undergoing the highest levels of development in the County but are the least served by the park system.

3) The actual amount of land set aside for a park (not including the proposed elementary school) would be 220 acres of land. Another 80 acres would be donated by the Triangle Greenway Association to increase the total to 300 acres. The land would also serve as a buffer for the high density development in the area, and as mentioned, protect a future water supply for the rapidly growing Fuquay Varina jurisdiction.

4) The article did not mention that the Conservation Fund has agreed to finance the purchase of the park land over a ten year period, therefore greatly reducing the initial out of pocket purchase price.

5) Additionally the article did not mention that over $1 million has been pledged towards the project by private and public entities that would reduce the financial burden to the County. With the $1 million pledged, Wake County could make the initial payment on the property (to be financed over 10 years) and easily cover the initial one-time costs for establishing the park along with paying for it's yearly maintenance. All of that money could be used so that no Wake County funds would be needed for at least its first year of operation, and perhaps longer depending on how much additional funds could be raised from public and private sources after the establishment of the park is announced.

6) The lawsuit over the land was mentioned in the story but it is irrelevant because both the landowners and the community residents agree that turning the land into a park would be the best solution for the property. Using that same argument, residents of Wake County should be concerned that parks have been built in the past on failed farms and pasture fields.

7) The tone of the article suggests that the Wake County master plans are infallible documents that never need to be revised and improved upon. Residents of Fuquay Varina have seen the master plan for residential development of the ETJ thrown out the window and replaced by more development than they ever imagined. Further, it is not just the community residents near the former golf course that want to see it turned into a park, but also thousands of other Wake County residents who desire more playing fields, recreation space and a cleaner environment to offset the unprecedented development to South Wake County.

4 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Christopher Sartorius on 08/10/2017 at 9:00 PM

Re: “Should Wake County Spend Up to $20 Million to Convert a Failed Fuquay-Varina Golf Course into a Park?

It is important to understand that the article in the INDY is factually incorrect in much of its reportage. Forget "fake news", the article is mostly a work of fiction designed to spin the public narrative against the park because some people in the Wake County administration don't want it approved. It is hard to vote against adding inexpensive green spaces to the county so they cant argue honestly in this debate. Ive listed some of the verifiable facts that the article did not disclose or misled about:

1) The figure of up to $20 million to convert the land into a park is a completely made up number. One of the main reasons that the proposed park is so attractive is because it will cost much less than the $15-$20 million that it would cost Wake County to develop actual raw land into a park. Most of the work has already been done at the proposed Crooked Creek site, with 4.5 miles of trails already in place, an office building/community center, plumbing, electricity, irrigation, restrooms, parking and other amenities already constructed for a regional park. The primary argument that the proposed park would be an excessive expenditure is not factually based. The benefits of conserving the former golf course would include stabilizing the land values along the Hilltop Needmore corridor, which in turn would increase Wake Countys tax revenues. Preserving the land would also ensure a clean water supply for residents in Fuquay Varina. The South Wake area and the Hilltop Needmore corridor are undergoing the highest levels of development in the County but are the least served by the park system.

2) The actual amount of land set aside for a park (not including the proposed elementary school) would be 220 acres of land. Another 80 acres would be donated by a watershed conservation fund to increase the total to 300 acres. The land would also serve as a buffer for the high density development in the area, and as mentioned, protect the water supply for Fuquay Varina.

3) There is only one existing park (not two proposed parks) within 5-6 miles of the proposed park. That park is Crowder Park that park was built to serve Cary residents, whose homes, by the way, border the park on all sides.

4) The article did not mention that the Conservation Fund has agreed to finance the purchase of the park land over a ten year period, therefore greatly reducing the initial out of pocket purchase price.

5) Additionally the article did not mention that over $1 million has been pledged towards the project by private and public entities that would reduce the financial burden to the County.

6) The lawsuit over the land was mentioned in the story but it is irrelevant because both the landowners and the community residents agree that turning the land into a park would be the best solution for the property. Using that same argument, residents of Wake County should be concerned that parks have been built in the past on failed farms and pasture fields.

7) The tone of the article suggests that the Wake County master plans are infallible documents that never need to be revised and improved upon. Residents of Fuquay Varina have seen the master plan for residential development of the ETJ thrown out the window and replaced by more development than they ever imagined. Further, it is not just the community residents near the former golf course that want to see it turned into a park, but also thousands of other Wake County residents who desire more playing fields, recreation space and a cleaner environment to offset the unprecedented development to South Wake County.

17 likes, 2 dislikes
Posted by Christopher Sartorius on 07/29/2017 at 10:59 AM

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