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Celebrating community

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Relationships are at the heart of new park

By Jonathan E. Coleman
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While Harrisburg Parks & Recreation director Shawn Line had hoped to open Stallings Road Park sooner, the delays might have been a blessing in disguise.

The weather was idyllic as a small group gathered under the park shelter for the official grand opening celebration and ribbon cutting.

A group of children, more interested in recreation than celebration, wasted no time breaking in the park’s playground equipment as mayor Tim Hagler welcomed community members to the town’s newest park.

Stallings Road part is another step in the growth of the town’s Parks & Recreation department, Hagler said.

“I can remember back when we didn’t have parks and recreation in our line item budget,” he said. “A lot of you remember Harrisburg Elementary on (N.C.) 49 before it got torn down. That was our recreation.”

Ten years ago, the town budgeted $25,000 for recreational activities, Hagler said, and since that time the town has continued to fund the department.

“From that point on, it just blossomed,” he said. “With that seed money, we expanded on that. We created a parks and recreation committee. We sought out grants and matched those. It’s one thing to have a vision. It’s another to set it in motion.”

The completed park, located on 12-acres at 4050 Stallings Road, near the entrance to Harrisburg Elementary School, includes three tennis courts, two softball/baseball fields, playground equipment, a picnic shelter and walking trail.

And while this was a day to celebrate ball fields, tennis courts and playground equipment, it was also about something much greater than that, according to Derek Evatt, pastor of RockPoint Church in Harrisburg, who was the guest speaker at the grand opening event.

Evatt told the story of moving with his family to Harrisburg, and how the first people he met, he met while taking his children to the park.

“It’s much more than swings and a play set,” he said. “This is about community. People have this innate desire to have community. It’s not a surprise to me that that is our desire. That is the beautiful thing about parks. It gives you the opportunity to have community.”

Now that the park is officially open, Line said she looks forward to seeing the park put to use.

“I’ve had people calling since the day we broke ground asking when they can use the tennis courts or play on the playground,” she said. “I’m glad to see the day come, and I think it came at a great time, when it’s getting warm and people are wanting to get outside.”

The park is open from 6:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily, with the tennis courts remaining open until 10 p.m. For more information, call Shawn Line at 704-455-5614.

• Contact Jonathan E. Coleman at 704-789-9105.


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