Facility could open as soon as Easter
Presenting an update on the Dowdy Park project to the Nags Head Commissioners on Nov. 2, Town Engineer David Ryan said the $1.6 million Phase I part of the project is running about a month ahead of schedule, with the site's "wavy walkway" now under construction.
An unofficial opening date for the park is now set for Easter weekend 2017. It is also possible the town will have acquired the estimated $500,000 needed to proceed with Phase II construction by the end of this year.
Construction of the park's playground began on Nov. 1. Much of the utility infrastructure (electrical, water and drainage) is now complete and in place, along with approximately 75% of the hardscapes (concrete walkways and wavy walkway), custom built-in features (chalk wall, holey wall, timber stepping pylons), playground area preparation, event plaza, parking lot and general site grading, and the pavilion superstructure.
Concrete form work is also now going on beneath the existing pavilions and event plaza. The week before, the pilings for the pavilion were driven, and the roof structural members were erected. Very visible from Highway 158, Ryan said, "It really stands out as being a very large-scale structure."
Slated to begin in the next few weeks, Ryan said, are paving of the parking lot and finishing the concrete work. From that point, the remaining Phase I work will consist of finishing the pavilion and playground installation, along with hardscape completion, parking lot paving, and landscape and irrigation installation.
"We're continuing to move forward at a pretty rapid pace," Ryan said.
One of the park's "signature elements” is the wavy walkway, which is part of a fitness trail that runs along the main pedestrian boulevard. "This is a very unique walkway," Ryan explained to the commissioners, "in that it has both vertical relief and cross-relief." This involves sloping up and down as the pedestrian walks forward, along with side-to-side sloping. "The 'wavy walkway' is one of Dowdy Park's unique and slightly more challenging fitness elements," Ryan said, "designed to test the user's agility and balance."
Phase II work on the part, estimated to cost about $500,000, may begin early if all of the $1.6 million Phase I project is completed in advance of the Jan. 15 deadline, Ryan told the Sentinel. But at this point, the town is waiting for final funding to be in place. Ryan added that a "very preliminary schedule" is anticipating completion of Phase II in the fall of 2017.
That work will include the bathroom facilities, the eastern portion of the park consisting mostly of a multi-use playing field, and a multi-use court on the western end of the park.
With the award of a $250,000 grant in September by the North Carolina Parks and Recreation Trust Fund, the remaining $250,000 for Phase II is being requested in an application submitted to the Dare County Tourism Board.
Ryan told the Sentinel that formal approval of the grant request is anticipated in December. "Phase II would be contingent upon receiving award of the grant funds," Ryan noted, "unless our board was able to identify and approve additional funds to make up for any potential shortfall."
Commending Ryan, other town staff and the contractors for their "spectacular" progress, Mayor Pro Tem Susie Walters said at the Nov. 2 meeting that, "It looks so good and there's so much excitement, not only in the Nags Head community, but throughout the Outer Banks."