The Main Street Program will host two public meetings, one on June 25 and another August 1, from 5:30pm-7:30pm in the downstairs of the Collett Street Recreation Center for public input about Center Square Park.  We want you to help re-imagine the grounds of the Courthouse Square lawn by building on the plans conceptualized during the 2018 Downtown Masterplan.

The City has contracted with a landscape architect, an architect, and an artist to aid in the creation of Center Square Park. These teams will be present, along with City officials, during the public input meetings to hear feedback about the project that will guide its design and implementation.  Many of you participated in the recent downtown masterplan and several layouts were envisioned.  But now it is time to make it reality, to look at what can be done, to understand any site challenges, to create a synergy and a space that meets the demands of this public space, to improve maintenance and, most importantly, recognize how art can be incorporated into the project to not only create a “wow” factor but to help tell the story of downtown and the square’s history.

“With the design of Center Square Park, we are following through on one of the top five initiatives of the 2018 Downtown Masterplan that the public said it would like to see happen in Downtown Morganton within the next five years,” said Main Street Director Sharon Jablonski. “Center Square Park will not be a traditional park like Morganton’s existing 400-plus acres of park lands. This park is about the conservation of greenspace in our Downtown for future generations as the City continues to grow, while working to make sure the space is welcoming to everyone. We want to maximize the greenspace in our Downtown while responding to our community’s needs.”

Two North Carolina companies out of Winston-Salem have been hired by the City to help bring Center Square Park to life.  Stimmel Associates is the landscape architect, while Stitch Design Shop is the architecture firm for the project. Both companies have done extensive work throughout the state, and you can view their projects at http://www.stimmelpa.com/wake-forest-innovation-quarter.html and https://stitchdesignshop.com/projects. The City has also partnered with artist Miki Iwasaki, of San Diego, California, for this project. Iwasaki has completed numerous pieces of public art in Colorado, California and Maryland. You can view Iwasaki’s work at https://www.mikiiwasaki.com/.  The artist was secured through a SmART initiative grant made available by the NC Arts Council and contracted for through the Burke Arts Council.

With the creation of Center Square Park, the City plans to maximize greenspace on the courthouse lawn, renovate the existing rock wall around the square and create a space that is inviting and well-used. The City will not be doing any work to the existing courthouse building or any of the monuments or memorials located on the square. The public meetings are a chance for citizens to share with the City their vision for what else they’d like to see when Center Square Park is built.

“This project has been in the works since 1997 when it was identified in the first Downtown Masterplan as a priority project; when it was once again identified as a top priority in the second downtown masterplan, we knew it was time to follow through on a vision that would significantly impact our Downtown,” Jablonski said. “In order for this to be a successful project, we still need the help and input of the public.  This public investment will spur millions of dollars in private investment around the square and solidify Morganton’s economic sustainability for years to come.  Participation in these public meetings is a key factor in getting a final outcome that meets the desires and needs of the citizens of our City. We want people to have a say in how this project turns out, and these public input meetings are the best way for people to make their voices heard.”

The first public meeting will be held Tuesday, June 25th starting at 5:30pm with an overview, questions and comments followed by participation in groups to look at various possibilities.  The second public meeting will take place on Thursday, August 1st at 5:30pm and will be a follow-up to the first with potential designs. Both meetings will be held at the Collect Street Recreation Center.  If you have any questions about the public meetings, contact the City of Morganton Main Street Office at 828-438-5252.

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