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50 at 50 | September 29

Posted By MICHELLE WELLS, NC RECREATION & PARK ASSN, Friday, September 29, 2017
Updated: Sunday, September 24, 2017
Due to the addition of the Highway 64 bypass, it had been a number of years since I had been to Pittsboro and drove the circle around the historic courthouse.  Pittsboro is located in Chatham County, has a population of about 4000, and it is expected to increase to 48,000 by 2030.  Last week I ventured to Pittsboro for this week’s park blog at the invitation of Park Planner Paul Horne.

Mary Holmes Park is where we went first and what a treat it was.  The park has a mix of open space and shaded wooded areas with art and play structures throughout.  Opened in 2009, this 10-acre park has lots of features designed to spark the imagination of its visitors.  There were limited formal structures but lots of rocks and natural areas that encourage play.  

The family of Mary Hayes Barber Holmes donated the land for the park when building the neighboring development.  The park has a picnic shelter, a misting spray fountain, ⅓ mile of greenway, rain garden, green roof, shelter and an open field where a local group plays soccer as the town does not offer any recreational programming.  Rocks and pieces of white oak offer seating around the open space and in other areas of the park.  A winner of a NCASLA honor award for design, the park has many green features including permeable pavers in the parking lot.  Even though the park was quiet while I was there, I learned that in the evenings and on the weekends it is a busy place.  The few people I did see on my visit were enjoying the park just as I was.  

Besides the natural beauty of the park, I was impressed with the thoughtfulness that was incorporated into the design.  This small space offers such a variety of leisure opportunities for the community in a compatible design.  And the coolest thing I saw was the climbing ‘apparatus’ in what some would call the playground. These components were built mostly on-site from rebar, styrofoam, wire similar to chicken wire and a few other materials  These structures jut out of the ground and if you look across the way, you can see a rock wall with a dragon’s head.  How cool is that?

For more information on Mary Hayes Barber Holmes Park located at 304 Old Rock Springs Cemetery Road in Pittsboro, visit their website

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Tags:  50at50  naturalplay  parks  recreation 

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