The American Society of Planning Officials has long advocated a minimum standard for park space - It is not easy to define whether or not an area is "adequate," yet recreation specialists have come up with certain rough rules which are often used; one standard, for example, is that a city should have one acre of city park or playground per 100 population, plus another acre of large city or regional park on the outskirts of the city for more extensive types of recreational use.
Using this standard, Matthews should have (32000/100) x 2 ~ 640 acres of park space. We currently have around half of that at Stumptown, Baucom, Country Place, Erickson, Fountain Rock, KP, community garden at 51, Purser Hulsey, Sardis, Squirrel Lake, Rice Road, the town green, Windsor, Sportsplex, and the greenway combined. By comparison, Charlotte has approximately one acre of park space for every 76 residents. Even using this "relaxed" guideline means a Matthews comparable should be around 420 acres - again we fall well short.
I advocated that the town purchase the roughly 2.4 acre tract at 269 S. Trade Street for use as a park. The owner offered the land at a premium, but ultimately I believe reasonable price since he would make much less on the deal compared to developing the site. Purchasing land at a premium for park space in Matthews is not unprecedented (see Purser-Hulsey Park). I do not advocate doing this on a regular basis and never have in a rezoning case since being elected, but the parcels in question offered the opportunity for an extraordinary gathering area at the head of the Four Mile Creek Greenway. I believe that those that follow us would appreciate a beautiful green space there rather than yet another housing development. My pleas fell on deaf ears, and the property was rezoned for development on a 4-3 Board vote.
Regardless of whether or not you believe the greenway entrance near the fire station is an appropriate place for a park, the fact remains we need more green space for our ever growing population, and I intend to continue to advocate for it. There is no more land being made, and we need to save a few more of our remaining green spaces for our current citizens and future generations to enjoy.
What Can You Do?
Make sure you get out to vote on November 5th but if you want to do more to help preserve Matthews, you can contribute to my campaign.