My most recent 50 at 50 park visit wasn’t specifically to a park, but to a complex. I was in Boone and made a visit to the Watauga County Parks and Recreation Sports Complex. While approximately 36.5 total acres, the arrangement, and partners on this complex are somewhat unique. The County of Watauga owns about 13 acres and an additional 18 acres is on a long-term lease from the Town of Boone. Nearby, another 5.5 acres are leased from the Optimist Club. During the winter, the Swim Complex is a hub of activity. With three swim/dive areas, it was nice to see activity in the middle of the afternoon. Here the swimming pools operate by salt chlorine generation and I got a tour of the pump room where it all happens. For more information on the process, you can see the details provided for citizens on their website
. In the winter the snow actually serves as an insulator and the design of the building allows for the glass doors that form the walls to be opened.
On the day of my visit, there has been a brief snow shower that morning, the temperature was 31 degrees and the wind was blowing in gusts of 40 miles per hour. Given the choice, I would have selected to be inside the pool where the water was much warmer. Instead, I zipped up my coat and put on the gloves and ventured out to explore the rest of the complex. I found courts for playing tennis, pickleball, and basketball and fields for playing baseball, softball, and soccer. Finally, I found the area affectionately called the Tot Lot. While exploring, I found a variety of opportunities for play and learning. Surround the perimeter of the Tot Lot is a paved walkway and while it is not great in distance, I could easily see parents walking while their children played or kids riding their bikes and playing with the push toys available. This area also provides a picnic shelter.
If you want to visit this complex, don’t wait too long. Plans are well underway for lots of changes. The County has purchased about 9 adjoining acres that were previously used as the Business Affairs Annex from Appalachian State University and this will be the site of a new community center complete with aquatics facility, 4 gyms, fitness area, indoor suspended walking track, and will also serve as the offices for the staff of Watauga County Parks and Recreation. With all the exciting plans in the works for this site, I’m glad I had the opportunity to see the “before” and look forward to seeing the “after”
For more information on Watauga County Parks & Recreation visit http://www.wataugacounty.org/App_Pages/Dept/ParksRec/home.aspx