Graduate student’s park design under consideration

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

A vision for a new central park in Reid Park Neighborhood on Charlotte’s west side is moving closer to reality. It is based on work by UNC Charlotte’s Dylan McKnight, who is pursuing master’s degrees in urban design and community planning.

The Reid Park Neighborhood Association, in partnership with Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation Department, will seek community feedback on the vision from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 17, at Reid Park Academy, 4108 West Tyvola Road.

“This project has involved participatory community design and activist planning research,” McKnight said. “The design portion of my project, which included a master plan for a new central park in the neighborhood, has been completed and presented to the neighborhood association leaders.”

McKnight also presented the plan to the Park and Recreation Department and to Vilma Leake, the county commissioner for the district. The Park and Recreation Department is moving forward with formal planning and design processes that would lead to construction of the new park, he said.

“Thursday’s town hall-style meeting is one of a series of meetings to be held in the neighborhood to prioritize elements of the plan and to begin to work up a budget for construction,” he said. “The Reid Park Neighborhood Association, officials from Reid Park Academy and the West Boulevard Coalition will attend along with many other stakeholders outside of the immediate Reid Park neighborhood.”

McKnight is pursuing a Master of Urban Design from the College of Arts + Architecture and a master’s in community planning degree from the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences. He earned a bachelor’s degree from N.C. State University.

The work, part of McKnight’s capstone project, is in a neighborhood where UNC Charlotte graduate students have worked for several years with Janni Sorensen, a professor in the Department of Geography and Earth Sciences, to build neighborhood capacity and resources through the Charlotte Action Research Project. CHARP has maintained a relationship with the Reid Park community since 2009 and is reaching out throughout UNC Charlotte to find other resources for this neighborhood and other partner neighborhoods.

Reid Park is a historically African-American community located along Charlotte’s West Boulevard corridor. Many of the neighborhood’s residents are homeowners who have lived in the neighborhood for decades. In addition to the community’s residents, Habitat for Humanity is a major stakeholder in the neighborhood. The organization has built dozens of homes in the community since 2005.

Photo: McKnight’s rendering of the planned park.