Empie Park Update
The addition to the tennis complex at Empie (later named the Althea Gibson Tennis Complex) and the land acquisition to build a softball complex (Olsen Park) were both 2006 parks bond projects. The plan communicated to the public during the bond outreach campaign was that the two softball fields at Empie would be removed to make room to install the tennis complex and that a five field softball complex would be built - yielding a net gain of three new fields.
The tennis complex master plan contained 16 new tennis courts, additional parking, connectivity between Wrightsville Avenue and Park Avenue, storm water and other site improvements. Empie Park Phase II, which is about to begin construction, finishes the original plan that was put on hold due to construction costs.
Although the courts look empty that can be deceiving. The spring GWTA league has just begun, which will have over 1,500 players playing at Empie seven days a week. Additionally, girls and boys middle school and high schools use the facility for practices and tournaments during the weekday afternoons and evenings. Seniors use the facility most mornings.
Adult and senior softball leagues remain popular and play at Olsen Park nine to ten months out of the year, five days a week. After staff prepare the fields during the day, they are locked so they are maintained for league play in the evening. We understand the frustration park users have when driving up onto the fields and see them empty and locked; however, we do have fields at other parks (both City and County-owned) that remain open and available to teams who want to use them for practices or recreational use. City owned fields that may be used include Robert Strange Park and Maides Park.
Please make sure your participants are aware this isn’t a new project the city is embarking on, but rather the completion of one from the 2006 bond.
I am happy to address any other questions that may come up so please do not hesitate to contact me.
Davina Bell, MS, CPRP
Parks & Recreation Division
302 Willard | PO Box 1810
Wilmington, NC 28402-1810
Ph: 910.341.0064 | Fax: 910.341.7854