CHARLOTTE, N.C. (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) – Charlotte’s first and oldest public park is getting a multi-million dollar upgrade. The upgrades are already well underway and they plan to preserve history, while also linking the park to the newly remodeled American Legion Memorial Stadium in Elizabeth.
Some of the upgrades at Independence Park are already complete. Phase 1 included upgrades to the soccer and baseball field. Phase 2 is currently focusing on the center of the park and phase 3 will focus on the area of the park on the other side of Hawthorne Lane.
The park is full of history as the oldest public park in the Queen City.
“It was built and opened about 115 years ago,” said Bert Lynn from Charlotte-Mecklenburg Parks & Recreation.
The park first opened in 1906 to be exact. FOX 46 found a photo from 1914 that shows the park crowded with children. It was the first park in the Queen City with a playground.
Another photo from 1931 shows dozens of parents bringing their kids to the reflecting pool near Hawthorne Lane to swim. That area is still part of the park today.
The Charlotte Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission is working with Parks & Rec to ensure the historic portions of the park stay put.
“A lot of the old historic walls and things of that nature are being retained, some of the stairs are being retained and the pool down by Hawthorne,” said Lynn.
But there are $6 million worth of changes. The original park had stunning views of the Queen City skyline, but over the years trees and amenities added to the center of the park started blocking those views.
Plans include bringing back the amazing view and joining the three separated areas of the park as one with new walking paths.
Those paths will also connect to the brand new Memorial Stadium, which was part of the original Independence Park.
“There is going to be a continuous route from the top end of the park, all the way down to the bottom. Under Charlottetowne through the stadium space and over to Little Sugar Creek Greenway, so the path system here will act like an extended trail for the greenway,” said Lynn.
Construction crews admit the last year has been tough with the number of rainy days in Charlotte, but the plan remains to have the park complete on time next summer.
American Legion Memorial Stadium is expected to open later this spring.