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County To Build 'Signature' Urban Green Space Uptown

County officials will break ground Friday morning on a new Uptown park meant to model the urban greens that grace major cities like New York, Boston and Chicago. The county will spend $11 million to build the park a few blocks north of Bank of America Stadium. It will cover about 5.4 acres where parking lots currently lie. The county has taken about ten years to finally break ground on the park - which Mecklenburg County Parks Director Jim Garges predicts will be ready in late 2012. The site is bordered by Mint, Church and Second Streets. Uptown already has a handful of green havens - Frazier Park to the west with its greenway, dog area and playing fields; and Marshall Park to the east. Plus there's The Green on Tryon Street. Garges says none of those is the right size or location to be what he calls a "signature urban park." "When you look at Romare Bearden and its location and design, you have a major gathering space for individuals, for events, so it's a much, much different design and in a different location," says Garges. The park's namesake - Romare Bearden - is a famous African-American artist who was born in Charlotte and would have been 100 years old this week. Sculpture gardens in the park will celebrate his art. There will also be water-features for children to play in and spaces for concerts and large events. Originally, county commissioners planned to build the park on a slightly larger plot nearby, but that land has now been earmarked for a possible Knights Baseball Stadium. Multiple lawsuits have delayed the stadium. Garges says he'd like to see Romare Bearden Park expand to cover that site, too, if the stadium isn't built. The public is invited to participate in groundbreaking festivities for Romare Bearden Park Friday morning at 9 a.m. More information here.