Repairs slated for Morganton park to improve flooding issues

After a popular park in Morganton has been repeatedly flooded by heavy rains, the 15-acre park will close for a full year of repairs.

When it rains hard at Bethel Park, water can rise 4 to 5 feet, covering much of one end of the park.

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The park first opened more than 40 years ago. Now, people like Michael Rochester must navigate mud and water along the walking trail. Two streams there have created a flooding issue that’s lasted for years.

“I come down here two to three times a week and it’s pretty muddy,” Rochester said. “It needs to be redone for sure.”

Morganton Parks and Recreation Director Brian Fish showed Channel 9′s Dave Faherty some of the problems. The city says a stream restoration will allow water to flow through the park and prevent major flooding.

“Any time we get any kind of precipitation other than a drizzle or light rain, the park turns into a pond. It floods -- it’s unusable,” Fish said. “And then it takes a while for the water to get out of the park.”

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Morganton plans to change the walking trail, buy new playground equipment, and add a picnic shelter and futsal courts for soccer. The price tag: Nearly $3 million funded through state and environmental grants.

Robbie Keener enjoys taking her dog, Jas, to the dog park there. The dog park will also be redone over the next year.

“Jas needs to run, he’s a five-month old puppy. And there’s not really anything else on this side of town,” Keener said.

The city said there are other parks like Catawba Meadows and Freedom that people can visit while the work is being completed.

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