City pondering what is best business for Town Common
By Ginger Livingston
The Daily Reflector
Thursday, November 15, 2018
Greenville City Council wants to hear what ideas people have for launching a restaurant/event space on the Town Common.
The city’s Recreation and Parks Department plans to release a request for proposals early next year seeking ideas on how a public/private partnership could be formed to operate a business in a 1.46-acre tract located where the old radio antenna use to be.
The project stems from the goals and priorities the Greenville City Council set during its planning session, held in late January.
“We are asking for proposals that aren’t hotels offices or something like that,” said Gary Fenton, Recreation and Parks director. “One of the ideas is a restaurant, one is some kind of a boating rental facility. Somebody else may have other ideas about development.
“That’s the point of an RFP — somebody could have an idea that we haven’t thought of,” Fenton said, “but we want it to be something that would benefit the community, benefit the park user. … We don’t want something where somebody would come and say, ‘Why is that in a park?’”
The projects should also ensure the essential nature of Town Common, he said.
“You can overdevelop a park and we want to avoid that because you lose the green aspects,” Fenton said. “It is a green space and it always has to have that appeal.”
The city has been working with The East Group, a local engineering/architecture/survey business to develop the RFP and conceptual design on how the site could be developed.
Before the design is finalized “potentially interested developers, investors and/or businesses” will be invited to meet with staff form the city and The East Group to work on refining the RFP, Fenton said in a Nov. 7 memorandum to City Council.
The RFP will be presented to City Council sometime in January for review.
The park is evolving, Fenton said. The planned Sycamore Hills gateway on the west end of the Town Common will memorialize the historical significance of the land while the right type of business on the eastern end will draw people to the park all year.
“We want to celebrate what was there previously, but I really do hope that the Town Common in Greenville can be viewed as everybody’s park, someplace where you can take visitors and there’s always something going on,” he said.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony for the newly built canoe and kayak launch scheduled for this afternoon has been postponed because of weather, Fenton said.
The walkway leading to the new launch is flooded, Fenton said. The National Weather Service said heavy rainfall that was expected to begin earlier today through the afternoon is expected to produce of 1 to 3 inches of precipitation in the region. Pitt County — along with Duplin, Greene, Lenoir and Martin counties — is under a flash flood watch through this afternoon.
The National Weather Service forecasts the Tar River at Greenville could reach nearly 10 feet by 1 p.m. and 15.5 feet by Sunday.