Want to time travel with us? We’re looking into the future at what Mecklenburg County Park & Rec can and should look like 10-15 years from now! In our office it’s called the comprehensive master plan, but you’ll see us calling it “Meck Playbook” in the community because it’s essentially our playbook for the next several years. The best part? YOU get to be a part of it. 

How We Got Here 

We couldn’t plan for the future without looking back at the past. One part of Meck Playbook includes a little history, but don’t worry – there won’t be an exam! Many parks in Charlotte are quite old. Some were private. Some were owned and operated by the City of Charlotte. 

One national event that led to some of your favorite amenities is the open space movement in the early 1960s. It was about a desire to move away from traditional parks to linear “parks” called greenways. Our first, McAlpine Creek Greenway, was realized in the late 1970s, which led to our first greenway master plan. Other events that sparked the formation of the department were the Clean Water Act in 1972 and the Clean Air Act in 1973. Your Mecklenburg County Park Department was established in 1974. 

And it was formed with a mind toward proactive thinking and planning. The Latta Nature Preserve (and Cowan’s Ford Wildlife Refuge) was created to protect the city/County’s drinking water at Mountain Island Lake. Developing the nature preserve system was a game-changer. It established the park department as a national leader. 

Where We Are 

Park and Rec Indoor Shelters/Pavilions
Waterfront Hall at Jetton Park

Today, the Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation Department is home to 230 parks and facilities located on more than 21,000 acres of park land throughout the County. And they are stunning! So much so that I started planning my wedding at one of our gorgeous pavilions, Waterfront Hall at Jetton Park — then COVID-19 hit. No fun, but my beloved and I realize that this is a small problem compared to what others are going through! 

Be a Part of Park and Rec’s Future 

Trail sign on Mecklenburg County hiking trails.

Meck Playbook will build on prior planning efforts to establish ways for us to respond to future recreation trends. After all, a good plan is one that can adapt! 

We have to consider the needs of a growing community, the budget, and our mission — all while protecting what is important about our County’s unique spirit. The four principles of the plan: commit to equity; evolve and grow; tell more stories; and move beyond boundaries. 

Most importantly, we want to make sure that its 10-15-year plan includes all. As we say in Park and Rec: Everyone is welcome here. 

Learn more about the Playbook and then get in the game! You’ll find out about upcoming virtual events and can make sure your voice is heard.  

In the Meantime  

Of course, we’re in the middle of a pandemic, and it can be hard to think about what you want to see in the future when we’re all just taking things one day at a time. If you’re going stir crazy, remember that Mecklenburg County Park & Rec has plenty for you right NOW that can help you stretch your legs and get some fresh air. 

Double Oaks Pool (pre-COVID photo)

Parks, greenways and nature preserves are all open for public use. Find the best hiking trail for you! If you’re not leaving the house much, check out our programs and register for them online. The majority of our indoor facilities are closed at this time; but the Mecklenburg County Aquatic Center and Double Oaks Pool are open with limited hours. It’s a great way to burn some energy.