Cabarrus County Parks Departments is celebrating its 40th anniversary and Frank Liske Park, Cabarrus County’s largest park, is celebrating its 30th birthday. These milestones will be celebrated at a brief ceremony at 5:45 p.m. Friday, June 1 before the start of the June Bug 5K at Frank Liske Park.
In June 1972, the Cabarrus County Parks and Recreation Department was born – ushering in a season of park development and organized recreation. Starting with baseball leagues at school fields, the department quickly expanded its offerings to softball, basketball and summer day camps before adding a soccer league in the early 1980s. Today, Cabarrus County parks host more than 200 youth recreation league teams.
Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, approximately 2,000 people each quarter participated in recreational activities including exercise classes, senior citizen trips, pottery, painting, bead making, youth council and theater productions.
When population growth and related housing development began to increase rapidly in the 1990s, Cabarrus County leadership realized the need to provide more parks to meet demand as well as to protect open space for future generations. To be able to allocate funds for park development, Cabarrus County cut back on recreational offerings. In 1999, the department name changed to Parks Department to represent a shift in focus away from recreational classes to mostly park development, environmental education, nature preservation, interpretive education, stewardship, and conservation.
These parks were developed by Cabarrus County:
• Frank Liske Park (opened in 1982) – This 180-acre park is is situated on state land, formerly the site of a working farm for Stonewall Jackson Training School.
• Bakers Creek Park (opened in 1985) – This 40-acre park is now operated by City of Kannapolis. Operations shifted to Kannapolis when the city created its own parks and recreation department.
• W.W. Flowe Park (opened in 1999) – This park features a sports complex on land that was donated to Cabarrus County. The park is now operated by City of Concord. Forty-five acres of the park land is currently developed. Phase two calls for the remaining 60 acres to be developed.
• North Cabarrus Park (opened in 2002) – This park is located on Orphanage Road on land that Cabarrus County leases from the City of Kannapolis and the Cabarrus County Center for Children (formerly known as the Church of God Children’s Home). Forty acres are currently developed. An additional 50 acres are planned for development in phase two. The park is operated by Cabarrus County.
• Camp T.N. Spencer Park (opened in 2003) – This 50-acre park opened to the public through a partnership with the Cabarrus Boys and Girls Club, which operates a summer camp on the property. This park, located off Gold Hill Road, is operated by Cabarrus County.
• Pharr Mill Road Park (opened in 2007) – This 37-acre park was built on land donated to Cabarrus County. Sitting on the Rocky River, this passive park is now operated by Town of Harrisburg.
• Robert Wallace Park (in planning phase) – Cabarrus County purchased 190 acres in Midland for a new park. The park will be developed when funding is available.
Frank Liske Park, Cabarrus County’s flagship park, celebrates its 30th birthday June 4. This 180-acre park, featuring gently rolling hills and open land, was once a working farm for Stonewall Jackson Training School. The old barn and silo and other farming relics have been restored for the community’s enjoyment. The park was named in honor of Frank Liske, a resident of Cabarrus County for more than 50 years who served at Stonewall Jackson School for 48 years until his retirement in 1971.
In addition to numerous picnic shelters and playgrounds, the park features four ball fields, an 11-field soccer complex, tennis courts, a perimeter trail, nature trail, fitness trail, miniature golf course, an amphitheater, paddleboats, and a fishing pier.
“I am grateful to past park directors – Rudy Davis, Bub Cowan and Steve Little – who worked hard to offer exceptional parks resources to enhance our quality of life in Cabarrus County. I look forward to new possibilities and new partnerships for parks and recreation in the future,” said Londa Strong, Cabarrus County Park Director.