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Cornelius News

Ambitious plan for Robbins Park improvements will cost $5 million

Troy Fitzsimmons and Mayor Woody Washam / Photo by Dave Yochum

Nov. 3. By Dave Yochum. An updated master plan for what’s been called the crown jewel of Cornelius parks calls for a wide array of new amenities—including new tennis courts, new pickleball courts, soccer fields and a bandshell—but there’s apparently no money in the town budget until 2032.

The total cost to build-out the Master Plan is on the order of $5 million.

Right now the 104-acre Robbins Park stands alone in size and scope among area parks. With the adjoining 19 acres at Westmoreland Athletic Complex, it is an oasis amid suburban sprawl.

A new road

“At buildout, Robbins will represent one of the most unique parks in north Mecklenburg in terms of overall number of recreation facilities provided in one place,” said Cornelius Parks Director Troy Fitzsimmons.

A new road will also enhance the facility. The planned Northcross extension to Eagle Ridge Way and Westmoreland will open more of the parkland to visitors when it is completed around 2023. “There will be a lovely winding road with woods and an open lawn area suitable for picnics and Frisbee, Fitzsimmons said.

Where’s the money?

But plans to fund all the improvements, including a splash pad, environmental interpretive area and a meadow/pollinator area, are 10 years out.

That’s not good enough according to Town Commissioner Jim Duke, who said he is passionate about the park.

“We simply can’t wait for years to get this important addition to our parks inventory,”  Duke said.


What’$ in a name?

Interestingly, naming rights could speed some parts along. Fitzsimmons said the new splash pad and the picnic shelter/bandshell could be sponsored by one or more corporations. Think Bank of America Stadium or Raymond James Stadium in Tampa.

Sports tournaments also bring in rental fees, and adding more fields and courts means more revenue for the town.

Duke, who said he would support starting improvements immediately, said the connection between parks and revenue is real.

“Most folks don’t understand the connection between not only property values but revenue from tournament events that come to Cornelius when we have the venues to support travel teams for tennis, softball, and a variety of other sports,” he said.

Budget discussions for the fiscal year starting July 1, 2022 get under way in February.