DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – Durham Parks and Recreation announced this week they are seeking input from the community about building a new swimming pool at the former Wheels Fun Park site on Hoover Road in East Durham.
Since the city purchased the site in 2020, some folks in the community said they would like to see the city reopen some of the amenities at the old site and create a family fun park, where there will be more for young people to do.
Wheels Fun Park used to be a popular venue that included a skating rink, go-carts, mini-golf, and batting cages.
“We need that, to keep our young people active and have positive things to go to,” said James Chavis, a longtime community member.
This week officials with Durham Parks and Recreation said they will be spending $31 million on a swimming pool that will go on the site.
Now some in the community are questioning what will happen to the rest of the amenities at the park and if it’s possible to bring back some of those activities.
“We say we want to cut crime down in Durham, and why do you want to take this fun park away?” Chavis said.
CBS 17 reached out to Durham Park and Recreation Director Wade Walcutt to find out what the city plans to do with the rest of the fun park and if there’s a chance they could reopen some of the amenities.
“No decisions have been made about the future of the amenities of that former site,” Walcutt said.
Walcutt said the city is giving the community a chance to give input about what they would like to see happen with the rest of the park. But he said he is not sure yet how the city will pay to reopen some parts of the old fun park.
“If there are repairs that need to be made or whatever improvements that need to be made, we don’t have that funding right now,” Walcutt said.
Walcutt said putting in a new pool was a top priority after conducting a comprehensive study, and he said this included community engagement.
But Chavis and other community members said bringing back a fun park with a roller rink and batting cages would give youth more to do.
On Sunday, May 29, Chavis said the community will be holding a peaceful demonstration outside the former Wheels Fun Park site at 632 N. Hoover Road, where they will be calling for the city to reopen some of the amenities.
“The police chief is saying that crime is up,” said Gwyn Silver, a Durham community member. “We need to keep youth involved, we need to keep them active and we need to keep them engaged.”
Other parents CBS 17 talked to in East Durham said a pool would be nice, but they would like to see a fun park as well.
“It would be nice to have another recreational center in that area so I can bring my daughter and we can have a good time over there,” said Kalive Matthews, a parent who lives in East Durham.
On Thursday, May 26 the Durham Park and Recreation Department will be holding a community workshop where residents can give input on the former Wheels Fun Park site on Hoover Road, as well as their thoughts on plans for improvements they would like to see at Long Meadow Park and East End Park.
The workshop will be held from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Long Meadow Park Pavillion at 917 Liberty Street.