March 20, 2012. Three plans for the layout of the Daniel Boone Park were proposed last night during a public workshop held at the Best Western in Boone. Two of the proposals drastically alter the current lay of the land of the current area, which encompasses Daniel Boone Native Gardens, Watauga County Farmers’ Market, Hickory Ridge Homestead, Jaycee’s Park and Playground, Horn in the West Amphitheater, Strawberry Hill Arboretum, the recycling center and the town’s maintenance yard.
Fred Halback of the consulting and design firm Marquis Halback presented the three plans, which his firm designed. In August, the Boone Town Council approved $15,000 and Southern Appalachian Historical Association (SAHA) added $5,000 to hire Halback. The Daniel Boone Project is a proposed redevelopment project to enhance the 36-acre property and “knit the whole park together,” Halback said. The project includes renovations of the amphitheatre and other facilities on the property, which is vastly underutilized.
Two of the proposals, known as Concept A and Concept B, would have paved roads going around the top of or across Strawberry Hill. All three proposals called for the maintenance yard and Jaycee’s Playground becoming parking lots, and Concept A and Concept B also called for a parking lot on Strawberry Hill. (The playground would still be apart of the Daniel Boone Park, but it would just be moved onto Strawberry Hill. A future location of the town’s maintenance yard wasn’t discussed. At the forum, Jamie Leigh of the Boone Town Council mentioned that she wasn’t aware of the possibility of the maintenance facilities moving and asked if Halback had discussed that possibility with other members of the council. Halback said the idea had been thrown around would other members.)
Most of those in attendance at the forum included members from stakeholder groups that included SAHA, the Watauga County Farmers’ Market, Boone Town Council, Daniel Boone Native Gardens, and Horn in the West, weren’t too keen on concepts A and B.
One person said, “I don’t think this is what [we envisioned]. I don’t like that road on the hill. I think it’s going to lose its charm if we make it so multi-useful that it doesn’t fit in.”
Virginia Roseman of SAHA added, “I would assume the community and the town would say ‘That is a beautiful hill. You don’t need to destroy it by paving it.”
The various stakeholders have differing goals, needs and expectations and, perhaps, should have discussed a consensus amongst the stakeholder groups as to the vision of the Daniel Boone Park before hiring Halback, who said he inquired about the goals and requests from leading members of the stakeholders.
A member of the Watauga County Farmers’ Market said, “Not enough effort has been made to engage stakeholders.”
Bill Moretz, the president of the Watauga County Farmers’ Market added that he didn’t have enough lead time to discuss the issue with all the members of the Farmers’ Market. And Some felt that the April 19 deadline – the time that a steering committee will recommend a plan to the Boone Town Council – was too soon. One in attendance disagreed with “moving very swiftly about a very key remaining green space regarding this land.”
Also many felt the plans were too extensive.
One member of the Watauga County Farmers’ Market said, “I just want to emphasize that the only thing the farmers’ market needs to be successful is a [permanent] place for customers [to buy goods] and park closely. We can sell out the back of a truck.”
After listening to some of the dissent from the various attendees, Halback said, “We asked what [each group’s] list was, [and] we are interpreting that. Now that we know how big of a dinner you asked for, is it what you appetite really is?”
During the presentation, Halback spoke about the potential of the amphitheater becoming a venue that draws musical acts, plays and other staged entertainment. Some were concerned with the overlap of activities that would already have a home at the prospectively restored Appalachian Twin Theatre and venues on the ASU campus – not to mention the complications of loud noise from “bus-and-truck” acts.
“I live on the other side of Blowing Rock Road. I enjoy hearing the cannons [of Horn in the West] going off because that’s historical,” one community member said sarcastically. “But I don’t think I would want to listen to Led Zeppelin for six hours.”
(In reference to the past debates about the Town of Boone’s noise ordinance, Steve Frank of the WATA 1450 AM jokingly called out that the Daniel Boone Park house band’s moniker could be the Noise Ordinance Violators.)
Proponents of the redevelopment project have called for a capital campaign of between $4 and $5 million. At the meeting and after looking at the concepts, one asked what the likelihood of this project costing and if the town could take on two capital campaigns (with the other being the Appalachian Twin Theatre Project) at the same time?
“Four million [dollars] times itself a couple more times,” Halback said, adding that maybe a “band aid approach – just fix what’s there” or a “bargain basement plan” will be preferred.
So far nearly 500 people have filled out a survey regarding the Daniel Boone Project. The survey is still open, and people can take part and learn more information about the project at www.danielboonepark.com.
The steering committee for the Daniel Boone Project meets next Monday to discuss and choose one of the proposed plans that will then be recommended to the Boone Town Council on April 19.
See the three proposed concepts below or to view larger sized documents click to www.danielboonepark.com.