A 59-acre urban oasis in east Raleigh is one step closer to reality after a unanimous vote by the Wake County Board of Commissioners today.
Commissioners approved the schematic design for Kellam-Wyatt Farm, a three-generation family farm and woodland sanctuary donated to the County in 2018. The farm is located in east-central Wake County near the Raleigh/Knightdale border.
“As Wake County continues to grow rapidly, it’s more important than ever that we preserve our open spaces and provide places for residents to exercise and enjoy themselves,” said Commissioner Don Mial. “Kellam-Wyatt Farm will be a true gem in our community, and I’m excited to take the next step toward its completion.”
The schematic design for phase 1 of the park features community gardens, demonstration gardens, woodland and meadow trails, open play areas and a nature play playground. It also includes a 2,600-square-foot covered community pavilion, maintenance facility, parking and improved site access.
A home that currently stands on the grounds will be renovated into a park center. This unique, multistory facility will provide indoor and outdoor classroom space, restrooms and staff offices. The project will also include green stormwater infrastructure, solar panels, native plantings and public art.
In 2013, Bob Kellam and Susan Wyatt granted a conservation easement to the City of Oaks Foundation to permanently protect the unique agricultural and natural heritage of the property. In 2018, Bob and Susan donated the land to Wake County.
Staff soon embarked on the master planning process, which included multiple rounds of community engagement and input. The Board of Commissioners approved the master plan in December 2021.
The Kellam-Wyatt Farm project is funded by the 2018 voter-approved Parks, Greenways, Recreation and Open Space bond. Construction is expected to begin in winter 2024, with the park opening to the public in 2025.
Open Space Acquisitions
The 2018 Parks, Greenways, Recreation and Open Space bond reserved approximately $20 million to continue the county’s efforts toward open space preservation. In 2019, county staff put forward an open space Request for Proposals to solicit responses from landowners interested in preserving their property.
Today, the Board of Commissioners voted to use bond funds to purchase four of those properties:
- Four adjacent properties totaling approximately 7 acres in the Swift Creek watershed adjacent to existing Wake County open space property. The wooded properties lie upstream from Lake Benson, a City of Raleigh drinking water supply reservoir, and their conservation will help protect the water quality downstream. Total cost: $40,000 ($33,030 paid by PGROS bond; $6,970 from NCDOT I-540 settlement).
- Two adjacent properties totaling approximately 19.5 acres in the Little River directly south of the Town of Zebulon’s Little River Park. The properties are wooded with a mix of successional pine forest in the north, the result of farming in the 1980s, and floodplain forest along Little River. The acquisition of the properties fills in gaps as we attempt to connect the Little River Reservoir lands to the north with the Towns of Wendell and Zebulon’s protected property at Tarpley’s Mill. Total cost: $430,000 ($348,000 paid by PGROS bond; $82,000 from NCDOT I-540 settlement).
- A 50-acre property in the Marks Creek watershed near existing Wake County open space property in Wendell in partnership with Triangle Land Conservancy. The property is a mix of woodlands and open farmland and contains a small pond. The County’s partnership with TLC has included the investment of over $20 million in funds over the last 30 years to protect almost 2,500 acres in the Marks Creek Rural Land initiative Area, which is home to Turnipseed and Williamson Nature Preserves. Total cost: $4.1 million with $2 million donated by the landowner ($504,000 paid by PGROS bond; $126,000 from NCDOT I-540 settlement; $400,000 private donation; $1 million from State of North Carolina).
- A 26-acre property in the Middle Creek watershed near the future Beech Bluff County Park. The property contains a mix of hardwood and pine forests, the latter in succession due to farming in the mid-2000s. The acquisition of the property could expand the future Beech Bluff County Park if a connection can be made to the east. Total cost: $937,000 ($75,000 paid by PGROS bond; $182,000 from NCDOT I-540 settlement).
Wake County’s Open Space Program strives to protect 30% of the county’s land area (or roughly 165,000 acres) as permanent open space.