Havelock has agreed to buy two more pieces of property to add to its growing portfolio of waterfront tracts along Slocum Creek.


Havelock has agreed to buy two more pieces of property to add to its growing portfolio of waterfront tracts along Slocum Creek.



The combined tracts total more than 14 acres and more than 3,600 linear feet along the creek and its offshoots.



The N.C. Coastal Land Trust paid for the lion’s share of the $62,500 purchase price, with the city contributing $4,500.



“It’s a great deal for the citizens,” Mayor Will Lewis said. “We’re making a lot of headway on that project because of the partnerships that we have created, and this is a good demonstration of that.”



The properties include a 6.23-acre tract (parcel number 6-051-055) bought for $40,000 from Howard Arthur Muller Jr. with more than 420 feet of waterfront along Slocum Creek just northeast of West Main Street and connecting to Chadwick Avenue.



The second piece, an 8.05 acre tract (parcel number 6-050-119) purchased from Edward N. Cieszko for $12,500, has 1,525 feet straight along the railroad tracks, nearly 800 feet along the Southwest Prong of Slocum Creek, and more than 2,300 jagged, saw-tooth feet along the winding Wolf Pit Branch of Slocum Creek behind the Havelock Tourist and Event Center.



“It’s super for the long term,” Commissioner Danny Walsh said.



The purchases through the land trust means the areas will be undeveloped and play into the city’s effort to create a park along Slocum Creek.



“I think this year’s going to be an awesome year for that park,” Lewis said.



Lewis said the tract near the railroad will fit with the city’s plans to connect with the Mountains to Sea Trail.  The property off Chadwick Avenue could be the site of a boat ramp where larger boats could be put into Slocum Creek without having to worry about low clearance from bridges near the current ramp near the Hampton Inn.



Along with the property purchases, commissioners agreed to spend $10,100 for park planning. About $5,600 will be spent for the design of the kayak launch and $4,500 will be spent for design of driveways on the 2.5-acre property that is the centerpiece of the city’s Slocum Creek Waterfront Park. The Wooten Company of Raleigh will design both.



Havelock has also asked the N.C. Department of Transportation to enter into a right-of-way encroachment agreement that would allow a sliver of property where the southern approach to the now-removed Church Road Bridge once was to serve as a connector to the new park. Once a tall causeway, the property has now been flattened down to a natural grade, and the city has plans to put picnic tables and other features there to further enhance the project.



A parks planner said recently that Havelock’s development of a historic park at Slocum Creek would be catalyst to ecotourism in the future. Jonathan Parsons, with The Wooten Company, said the concept was about improving community access to Slocum Creek in the heart of the city.



“We’re also looking at this as a catalyst for improving ecotourism in the area,” Parsons said. “There’s different types of uses across the state. People want boats. People want kayaks. People want just walking trails. So we’re trying to get a place where you can pull all those things together. We’re looking at trying to make Slocum Creek a trailhead for that sort of development.”



The first phase of the project used $133,000 in grants to buy land. The second phase uses $81,000 in grants and other contributions for a kayak launch, driveway improvements, security lighting and picnic tables.



“The main thing is creating a park that supports a lot of different users, different events, different functions, so whether it’s a gathering or an educational opportunity or just something to relay about the important historic events at the site or the sites adjacent to this area,” Parsons said.



A future component of the park would be its connectivity to other existing and future walkways and sidewalks, including a pedestrian bridge that would connect the park with the Havelock Tourist and Event Center and two hotels on the other side of the creek.



In addition, the city is looking at property up Slocum Creek where an old Civil War-era block house was once located as being part of the park. The purchased Cieszko property is directly across a prong of the creek from the site.



“The historic site is really the entire creek and how it functioned with the (Civil) War,” Parsons said.



Parsons turned his presentation to future phases, which include a proposal to relocate the historic Trader Store and World War II-era train depot to the new park site.



“They are not in a great place right now. They are off to the side and next to the railroad yard, just really not suitable for any kind of events or anything educational, but they are things that you have,” Parsons said. “They are resources. So what happens if you bring those to the site, and that’s what we looked at, using those in support of the kayak uses, maybe being used as a classroom or as a meeting space. We can use the general store as a place for additional restrooms, for additional office space where parks and rec can have a space out there for interpretive learning and it also gets you a facility out there on the site.”



A picnic shelter is also planned as well as a small amphitheater that could host a music festival.



Parsons said that development of the park could run out to fiscal year 2018-19. The estimated cost of the entire project could be about $918,960 through that time period.