What is the future of Westgate Nature Park in Leland?
LELAND, NC (WWAY) — Some Leland residents are concerned about the future of a nature park.
At nearly 150 acres, Westgate Nature Park sits in the Westgate neighborhood in Leland and includes wetlands by Jackey’s Creek.
Lynn Tighe lives in Westgate and uses the park daily. Many like her are concerned about its future because of the development happening around it.
Niel Brooks, Leland’s assistant town manager, explained the development happening around the park is allowed within the town’s zoning that’s been in place for years. It will not impact the future of the park.
“As the town, we looked at it as okay we’re going have this large multifamily area being developed. It’s important to have some type of park area and some type of conservation area right here,” Brooks said.
The land the park sits on was donated to the town by a developer in 2008. Brooks explains it includes 146 acres of wetlands, as well as a 100-foot parcel that was donated to be used as a right-of-way to build a connection to the south side of Jackey’s Creek. The playground, parking lot, and walking trail sit on that parcel. These are considered “active areas” of the park.
Brooks says these features of the park were never intended to be permanent but were put in place because the cost of building a bridge over Jackey’s Creek was too high to justify at the time.
“In those days that we were looking, the town had around 8-10,000 people,” Brooks said. “That was just an exorbitant amount to think that we’d be able to cross, but as time has gone on and the town has grown, that opportunity to be able to make those connections those roadway connections throughout the area, they grow every day.”
Since the town received a state grant to develop the park, staff would have to return to the state before any action is taken to make those changes.
However; Brooks says when or if the park were to be turned into a roadway, it wouldn’t completely go away. The town would propose relocating and expanding the park on the opposite side of Jackey’s Creek. It would be connected to the Westgate Community by a multi-use path built alongside the roadway.
For people like Lynn Tighe, she says the relocation of the park would a major loss for the town as well as the residents in the area.