By Harley Nefe
The Memorial Park Playground in Blowing Rock is now complete with renovations and will be open today, Sept. 4, at 5 p.m. and through Labor Day weekend. The official ribbon cutting ceremony will be held on Tuesday, Sept. 8 at 5 p.m.
Blowing Rock Mayor Charlie Sellers said it’s the first major renovations the park has been through since the early 50s. He further said that it is one of the silver linings of COVID-19.
“We were able to do construction and not have to worry about people getting in the construction area because people weren’t allowed to use playgrounds,” Sellers said.
The opening of the park comes after Gov. Roy Cooper’s Phase 2.5 has gone into effect, which allows for playgrounds to open.
The park has a few different sections, including areas for younger children, older children and basketball and tennis courts for older children and adults.
The tennis courts and basketball courts were not part of the project; just the playground equipment and all of the grass areas were redone.
All the surface area is ADA compliant and has the absorbent material that will cushion someone should they fall, Sellers said.
The project for completing the park was a public-private partnership between the Town of Blowing Rock and the Tourism Development Authority.
About $600,000 was spent on the project, and the TDA contributed half of the costs and the town put together the other half.
“The Blowing Rock TDA Board of Directors was happy to contribute funds toward the playground renovation project,” said Tracy Brown, Blowing Rock TDA Executive Director. “Part of our goal at the TDA is to provide funding to projects within the town that benefits both the visitor and the local taxpayer. It was only fitting that we provided significant funding to lessen the burden on the town since a good portion of use will be by visitors. Memorial Park and the playground are iconic pieces to a Blowing Rock experience. We’re excited to get the park back open and to see both locals and visitors enjoying the new and greatly improved playground.”
Sellers said the Town of Blowing Rock has had over 30 or 40 families call from out of town wondering if the park was going to be open.
“A lot of people travel to Blowing Rock for their children to go to the park, which can be beneficial to our other businesses,” Sellers said.
Sellers said he wanted to thank the Blowing Rock Town Council, the Parks and Recreation Department, the TDA, the town manager and all of the other department heads who have had a stake in the project, along with citizens who have jumped up to the plate to help with designs and support.
“I think it’s really great,” Sellers said. “And hats off to all those that I’ve just mentioned who have had a hand in this and brought it to fruition.”