You may be wondering why the park’s hillside is under construction. A new loop sidewalk is being installed around the perimeter of the lawn!
This new sidewalk will be ADA accessible and it will create a much needed connection between Rigsbee Ave and Foster Street on the east side of the park.This loop sidewalk has been part of the Park’s master plan for over 20 years. For a long time it was, what felt like, an unattainable dream because a sidewalk of that scope and design is a very expensive project. In 2014, East-West Partners, the developer of the Liberty Warehouse Apartments, approached the Park and proposed that they help build the sidewalk in the Park while their crews are assembled. Since then, Durham Central Park, Inc, the City of Durham, and East-West Partners has been working closely to finalize the details to make this new connection a reality!
This area was once the site of Mangum Warehouse No. 1& 2, tobacco auction warehouses. The warehouse was similar in size and scope to Liberty Warehouse (the current site of the Liberty Warehouse Apartments). Mangum Warehouse was demolished sometime in the 1980s, according to opendurham.org. In the late 90s, the City of Durham acquired the land and it created the east side of Durham Central Park. Over the next 10 years, brush was cleared, the hillside was graded and it became an wide open green space that is now called the Great Lawn. In 2009, Parks and Rec built and opened the skate park on the south east corner of the lawn. Now, as the land for the sidewalk is being prepared, big chunks of the foundation of Mangum Warehouse are being unearthed, as you can see in the picture. That was expected and if you are watching it happen (like I am), it’s like an urban archaeological site!
In addition to the loop sidewalk, there will be a proper entrance to the park built near the intersection of Broadway and Rigsbee. This is another long planned addition that will welcome our neighbors from the east into the park. The sidewalk installation should take about 8 weeks and we are hoping to re-open the area in late fall. That, of course depends on the weather. After the sidewalk is constructed, the hillside will be regraded and seeded with grass so that it, once again, becomes an open green lawn for all to enjoy.
As we have gathered feedback from the community, we know that many people want to see more shade in the Park. So, we are working on that too! We have been working closely with the Durham’s forestry manager, Alex Johnson to identify hearty varieties of trees that will be planted along the perimeter of the new sidewalk to create groves of shade around the lawn. About 20 arge-ish trees will be planted in early winter!
We are also please to let you know that the skatepark is getting some much needed repairs! It should re-open by mid-October.
Check back soon for more details!