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Enloe Eagle's Eye

The Student News Site of Enloe Magnet High School

Enloe Eagle's Eye

The Student News Site of Enloe Magnet High School

Enloe Eagle's Eye

Downtown Cary Park Opens to Public

Downtown Cary Park Opens to Public

Downtown Cary’s new park opened on Sunday, Nov. 19 to town-wide enthusiasm. The park has been under construction for nearly three years, but according to its website is “more than 20 years in the making.”

The park is located between Cary’s historic downtown streets, Academy, Walker, Park, and Walnut. It is an expansion from the iconic Frantz fountain square located across the street from the Cary Arts Center, named for town council member Don Frantz. Cary residents will recall this fountain being added in 2017 to the scenic downtown, endearingly dubbed “Old Cary,” prior to the current extension of the park.

Sprawling across 7 acres, the park’s amenities include a performance pavilion, two food and drink facilities, a dog park, and children’s play areas, with extensive walkways and open spaces throughout.

Planting native plants and conservation efforts for pre-existing trees were both priorities in the park’s construction. 36 existing trees were saved while building the park, and an additional 66,000 plants were added, including a variety of native and adaptive species.

The town anticipates hosting around 500 programs annually, including concerts at the newly constructed pavilion, outdoor movies, and several planned Christmas season events. Additionally, the Downtown Park will be integrated into pre-existing Cary events like the Cary Farmers’ Market, which will now be held adjacent to the park on Park Street.

The park’s ribbon cutting ceremony had a massive turnout of Cary residents. Performers and visitors lined the walkways and filled the buildings, and pedestrians were wowed by the grandeur of the long-awaited park, exploring every amenity.

“The first day we were open, I came really, really early. I didn’t actually hear this, but another of my colleagues overheard somebody say, ‘it’s like Christmas morning.’ That was really special to hear,” said Cary Downtown Park General Manager Joy Ennis.

It was evident at its opening that the park was already an attracting force in the Cary community, with businesses utilizing the space even before construction was finished. 

“We call this the most beautiful economic development engine you’re ever going to see,” Ennis said.

Ennis also stressed that the park’s intended use goes beyond Cary’s borders, and they are hoping to attract more visitors from everywhere in Wake County and beyond.

“We’d like for people to know that Cary is a fun place to come to, and that we’re doing innovative things and that we’re welcoming, and that our doors are open for everybody,” Ennis said.

Part of that innovation comes in the park’s design. Despite many tweaks and iterations throughout the park’s design process, its direction remained the same, with community at the core.

Design choices for the park were primarily rooted in outreach to Cary residents. OJB, the firm collaborating with the town of Cary in the park’s design and construction, conducted surveys in 2018 which yielded more responses than any other project in their history. The responses were compiled to create a futuristic design with curved wood and organic shapes being key elements of the space.

“It really was built by the community based on their input,” Ennis said.

The vision for Cary’s downtown that has been realized over the past 20 years centers itself around strengthening the town’s community and bettering the lives of its residents, and the Downtown Cary Park is the most ambitious facet of this goal. 

“[The park is] a life enhancer for the community. That’s something we’re really focused on in terms of how we treat people when they get here, the programs that we offer, and the park itself as an amenity,” Ennis said.

One walk through the grounds will prove that the park’s ability to draw visitors and give them a space to do the things they love with their community has exceeded all expectations, and will continue to do so for years to come.

Overall, the park’s construction and opening have already seen resounding success, so much so that the park’s staff was relieved when the rain this week would mean a break from the constant crowds, and bring with it a delightful rainbow in Wednesday’s skies. 

“This is better than we could have expected, because when you look over the fence, it’s one thing, but when you’re standing in it, it feels completely different,” Ennis said.


Works Cited

Town of Cary. Downtown Cary Park.

Town of Cary. Downtown Cary Park Project.

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Jadon Frank
Jadon Frank, Podcast Editor
(He/him) Jadon is a senior returning to his second year on the Eagle's Eye as Podcast Editor! You can find him working many unpaid hours as a lighting designer for Enloe Theatre. He has a cat.
Elizabeth Sobel
Elizabeth Sobel, News Editor
(She/her) Elizabeth is a senior at Enloe returning to the paper as this year's News Editor! As a member of Enloe's Symphony Orchestra, she spends a lot of time practicing the harp. In her free time, she enjoys painting, perusing the halls of the North Carolina Museum of Art and reading about the latest archeological discoveries.
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