Lake Lure's Most Popular Park to get a Plan for its Future

Process for the Morse Park Recreation Plan Continues through the Fall 

Lake Lure, NC, Sept. 15, 2017: Centered in the heart of Lake Lure is the jewel of the town's public park system -  Morse Park, a relatively small and serenely beautiful footprint of a space primarily located along the water's edge.

Whether it is bird watching, basketball, or a leisurely bicycle ride, one thing is certain: because of the multiple ways in which to enjoy it, along with its stellar backdrop of the Rumbling Bald Mountain Range, the park is gaining in popularity with each passing year.

As needs, plans and ideas emerged during the town's Capital Improvement Plan process earlier this year, several of the ideas focused on Morse Park and its future.

Some of those ideas included permanent public restrooms, improved tennis and pickle ball courts, additional picnic facilities, a sports field and an outdoor stage.

As a result, the town-appointed Parks & Recreation Board concluded it was time for a recreation plan that focused squarely on Morse Park.

Taking a Step Back to Move Forward:

To create the most effective plan, the board first established some baseline criteria. They wanted a plan that:

  • Could be carried into 2027
  • Included recommendations from past planning documents
  • Incorporated new input from residents, stakeholders and visitors
  • Located the best place in Morse Park for public restrooms and for those restrooms to be constructed within the next twelve months

“The expedited time frame for the construction of the restrooms is in preparation for the September 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games in Tryon,” said Parks & Recreation Board Chairman, Jim Walters. The games, located less than 20 minutes from Lake Lure, are expected to make a significant regional impact. 

The Process behind Creating a Recreation Plan for Morse Park:

Earlier this summer Town Council voted to fund creation of the plan and approved two consultants to carry out the process. They also dedicated $94,000 toward the design and construction of the restrooms. Vital Clarity, a facilitation firm, was utilized to gather and prioritize past and new information while Equinox Environmental, a landscape architecture firm will produce the plan’s design elements.

Gathering New Information:

In keeping with the desires by the Parks & Recreation Board, the first order of business was to create a survey to gauge how people are currently using the park and how they wish to experience it in the future. 

A eight-question survey was widely distributed between July 25th and August 15th. 

“We were happy to receive over 500 responses,” said Shannon Baldwin, the town’s Director of Community Development. "Working with the Morse Park work group and the Parks and Recreation Board, we are all excited to eventually see ideas converted to design," he said.

With regard to how individuals and event organizers would like to see the park best utilized, quite a few common themes emerged between the recommendations from past plan documents and the current preferences stated in the recent survey responses.

Some of the most recommended facilities that have emerged to date include, (in no particular order):

  • A stage or band shell for large events and gatherings
  • A group shelter or pavilion for small group gatherings
  • A kayak and canoe launch site to expand lake access
  • Restroom facilities, (in progress)
  • More open space to accommodate festivals and events
  • A pedestrian bridge across the lake channel near the gazebo

Next Steps in the Process - What's happening now?

This fall Equinox Environmental will present the Parks & Recreation Board with two concept plans for review. From there a final draft will be selected by the board and made available online between Nov. 3rd and Nov. 14th.

During that time, the public can provide further comment and input in one of two ways:

  1. Here on the town website via email comments
  2. During a public hearing on Nov. 14th at the regular town council meeting

The town hopes to adopt the plan during the November or December Town Council meeting.

To fund the identified projects within the plan, town staff will apply for grants through potential funding agencies where such projects are a good fit.