The City of Raleigh currently
owns two park sites in the vicinity of Milburnie Dam, formerly
known as Neuse Park East and West. As part of this plan, these
sites have been renamed Milburnie East and West and are referred
to as such. The master plans for each of these sites can work
independently. The plan, however, strongly recommends connecting
them by means of a pedestrian bridge and developing the river
Corridor area between and adjacent to them to create a unified
park named Milburnie Park.
Anderson Point Park and Milburnie Park are the first two Arrival Parks to be developed as part of the Neuse River Regional Park. The specific master plans are based on the individual qualities that each site offers relative to its relationship with the river and the potential for recreation opportunities beyond river-oriented amenities and facilities. Each park is considered as a part of the proposed larger whole. As parts of this larger whole, the plans for these parks focus on the unique contributions the parks can make to the regional system. The plans for these parks will be diminished or significantly compromised if the greater Corridor/Regional Park goals are not pursued and accomplished to reasonable degrees. This is because they are designed as Arrival Parks, offering and enhancing services to the Corridor, rather than as independent destinations. These park plans do not offer a model for other Arrival Parks because each Arrival Park plan must seek, identify and develop its unique qualities as a critical node in the Regional River Park System.
Milburnie West is a 35 acre site
consisting of upland ridges and slopes underlain by bedrock close
to the surface. Much of the land was formerly cultivated or used
as a trailer park, resulting in typical old field vegetation and
stands of young pines. It has approximately 1,050 feet of river
frontage above Milburnie Dam and borders Bridgers Lake and its
outlet to the Neuse at the northern end of the park. The flood
plain along the river is very narrow and open with rough lawn
extending to a fringe of trees at the river's edge. The river
banks are low, and water level fluctuations are less extreme than
elsewhere along the Corridor due to the dam. On the western edge
of the site the vegetation is a medium aged woodland of mixed
hardwoods and pines. There is a small area of large mature
hardwoods on the steep slopes above the existing greenway trail
and hardwood forest and open groves on the slopes south of the
central ridge. The site offers excellent opportunities for views
of and access to the river and for connections between the river
Corridor and adjacent open uplands.
(Milburnie Master Plan drawing)
The master plan proposes a
community park focused on river related recreation, along with
some field space for athletics and a traditional community center
with gymnasium at the upper, inland section of the site.
A long, informal lawn along the
sloping ridge parallel to the river extends from ridge top to
Bridgers Lake. It offers sweeping views up and across the river
and ample space for informal play, festivals, sunbathing and
Terraces at several levels along
the river above the dam provide overlooks and river access. A
long curved terrace just above highwater level allows close
contact with the river and opportunities for fishing. Another
broader overlook terrace higher up the slope offers sweeping
river views and space for small gatherings and picnicking. The
plan preserves a grove of large existing trees on the slope above
the terrace to create a stately backdrop for this area.
A canoe dock located between
Bridgers Lake and the river provides a safe take-out point well
above the dam for canoeists coming down river and an opportunity
for a canoe rental facility. A boat house is provided nearby for
this purpose. A riverside marker is proposed at the northern end
of the park which will contribute to the park's identity and
clearly mark the location of the canoe launch. A boardwalk
extending south along the river from the canoe launch leads
through a wetland forest area, connecting back to the greenway
trail and great lawn.
A boathouse located near
Bridgers Lake will provide restroom and snack facilities for park
and greenway users as well as a potential canoe rental facility
and/or storage of City-owned boating equipment. Bicycle rentals
are another possibility for this facility.
The Bridgers Lake area which
includes a beaver pond and extensive wetland areas upstream,
encompasses a rich variety of wildlife habitats and contains
stands of coastal plain vegetation not commonly found in the
Piedmont, including Bald Cypress, Sweetbay Magnolia and
Switchcane. The lake and wetland areas are part of Hedingham but
are designated as permanent open space to be managed according to
a management plan designed by the City and agreed upon by
Hedingham. A boardwalk and lakeside shelter located at the park
edge of the lake will provide access for wildlife viewing and
nature programs as well as for general enjoyment of the lake. The
remainder of the lake and wetlands are to remain natural,
including a 50 foot minimum buffer of undisturbed vegetation on
all sides to provide protection for wildlife habitat and water
quality as well as the scenic character of the area.
Selective thinning of underbrush
within the park woods south of Bridgers Lake will create a shady
picnic area. A picnic shelter for group picnics is also proposed
in this area.
Raleigh Beach Road will be
realigned to lead directly into the park, climbing diagonally up
the steep slopes on the south edge of the site. The road then
winds over the ridge and down through the woods on the western
edge of the park, terminating at a circular turnaround near the
boathouse. This turn-around provides access to the canoe dock and
Bridgers Lake facilities as well as an opportunity for people
with limited walking ability to get near the river.
The major parking area, with
approximately 290 spaces, is located at the upper end of the bowl
west of the great lawn. It provides convenient access to the
sports field, the future community center, the great lawn and the
children's play area. A smaller lot with around 100 spaces is
located lower on the slope in the woods above the Bridgers Lake
picnic area. A third lot with around 95 spaces is shown on the
ridge above the park entrance to serve the proposed restaurant
facility on the edge of the quarry as well as to provide
additional parking for the community center.
A large children's play area is
located in a wooded bowl just west of the great lawn with
convenient access from parking and other activity areas.
A pavilion at the top of the
central ridge offers long views up river over the great lawn as
well as views through the woods on the south slope toward the dam
area and Milburnie East. The form and use of this facility is
flexible. It could be a large picnic shelter for group gatherings
or could be developed as a special use building, such as a
cultural or arts center or other function, depending on program
needs identified by the City. Any structure built in this
location should be designed to create an attractive focal point
which complements the park's character and takes advantage of the
extensive views afforded by this site.
An open playfield area
approximately 200' x 400' is shown on the ridge in the western
corner of the site.
A private inholding totally
surrounded by park land is identified as the site for a future
community center. The center will include gymnasium space and
other indoor facilities. This land should be acquired for
inclusion in the park.
A restaurant or cafe with
outdoor terraces at the top of the old quarry will overlook the
water falling over Milburnie Dam and the rock outcrops in the
river below. This facility should step down the slope and provide
connections to the riverfront area around the dam. The facility
could be wholly public or a public/private joint venture.
There are two areas of private
land located within the main boundaries of the park site. One
area consisting of two vacant lots is located along the southern
boundary near the proposed special use facility. The other area,
consisting of four lots, two with mobile homes and two vacant, is
located completely within the park, in the area where the future
community center is proposed. This master plan proposes
acquisition of all these properties for inclusion in the park.
Milburnie East is a 24 acre
wooded site bordering the east side of the river below Milburnie
Dam with access from Old Milburnie Road. Steep wooded slopes and
a broad wet flood plain make the site best suited for low
intensity development and uses which can benefit from the site's
varied topography and mature woodland vegetation.
This master plan for Milburnie
East creates an outdoor activity center for the Adventure Program
in a secluded, wooded setting. Adventure program facilities focus
on a ropes course and canoeing. The plan also includes trails and
boardwalks through the flood plain and along the slopes to
provide pedestrian access to the wetlands and flood plain forest
and to provide the potential for loop trails with connections to
the main greenway trail on the west side of the river.
An alpine tower, high ropes
facility, and low ropes course are located on the hilltop. An
open field created on the north slopes of the hilltop provides
space for adventure program activities as well as to opening up
views of the wetlands and river. A low ropes course consisting of
a narrow trail with small clearings for individual activity
sites, is located within the mature hardwood forest on the west
slopes. The ropes course area, including the open field, will be
enclosed by a security fence to protect the structures from
vandalism and unauthorized use. This fence should be set within a
vegetated buffer so the fence structure is not readily visible
from either within the area or from surrounding drives and roads
and does not detract from the wilderness appearance of the site.
The ropes course area is accessed on foot from the parking area
at the edge of the flood plain or across the bridge from
Milburnie West to increase the sense of seclusion.
The existing canoe launch is
incorporated into the Master Plan for this site.
A parking area for approximately
85 cars is located on the site of the existing package treatment
plant, which will be abandoned when sewer lines are extended to
the area. A restroom facility near the parking area will serve
both the ropes course and the canoe launch.
Because of the differences in
terrain and vegetation, the two parks offer a contrast in
environmental character, proposed facilities and approaches to
the river. A direct connection across the river between these
sites will create a park which is greater than the sum of its
parts. This master plan, therefore, has gone beyond the bounds of
property currently owned by the City to suggest possibilities for
future development of the land between and adjacent to the parks.
The new pedestrian bridge
crossing the river above the dam follows an existing embankment
on the east side believed to be the original roadbed for Route 64
and bridges both the river and the wetland on the west side.
There are two masonry pillars near the river's edge opposite the
embankment remaining from the earlier crossing. The central
portion of the bridge will be widened to accommodate fishing and
river watching. The crossing site is owned by the hydroelectric
company west of the river and by the Beachwood Homeowners'
Association east of the river.
Milburnie Dam, the only
surviving historic dam in the Corridor, is a unique site,
offering the opportunity to see how the river has been and
continues to be harnessed to provide power. The falling water and
the rocky islands below the dam create a scenic attraction. The
rocks and oxygenated water also create prime habitat for animals
such as otters and shellfish. The existing greenway trail
circumvents the area around the dam, leading through Milburnie
West and crossing the large wetland forest area to the south of
the hydroelectric property.
The plan reroutes the greenway
trail through this area and will provide interpretive signage
explaining the history of the site and the role of the current
hydroelectric plant. Overlook terraces above and below the dam
will take advantage of the scenic character of the site and of
the long views up and down the river.
The gently sloping sandy
riverbank just south of the dam on the west side of the river,
historically known as Raleigh Beach, was for many years a popular
spot for picnicking and river watching. The master plan of the
Milburnie Park Area renovates this area as a picnic area. A
summer pavilion and terraces are proposed at the north end of the
beach overlooking the falling water and housing a seasonal cafe
or food vending facility, possibly linked to the restaurant above
the quarry. A parking area and riverview loop drive are also
shown to provide convenient access to the river in this area.
There are a number of extensive
wetland areas along the Corridor to the north and south of
Milburnie Park which offer a wide variety of high quality
wildlife habitat. The dam impoundment created large wetland lakes
and marshes upstream, just above the dam on the east side and
further north on the west side. Tributary streams and
drainageways feed extensive hardwood swamp forests above Bridgers
Lake and below Raleigh Beach Road. There is also a small cypress
pond between the dam and the proposed pedestrian bridge on the
east side. Preservation and protection of environmental quality
is the paramount guideline for all these wetlands. A boardwalk
loop is designed at the southern end of the lake at the eastern
end of the pedestrian bridge. Interpretive trails may also be
provided at other wetlands, but should be designed to leave large
portions of each area inaccessible so as to protect wildlife
refuges and breeding grounds.