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Whitehall at Reservoir Park
The Town of Southern Pines bought the 157-acre tract of land, known as the Whitehall property, in December 2020. The Town paid $1.65 million for the property located at 490 Pee Dee Road. Reservoir Park directly abuts Whitehall to the north and includes access via an existing 2-mile walking/biking trail. There are also trail connections from Elizabeth Rounds playground.
Whitehall makes up almost half of the 326-acre Reservoir Park, a true gem in the Sandhills. A 95-acre lake and permanently protected longleaf pine stands and habitats for the endangered red cockaded woodpecker showcase the park's natural beauty. Passive recreation activities include an 18-acre disc golf course, Elizabeth Rounds playground, and exercise stations. Over 2 acres of trails connect to the Southern Pines greenway network.
Once Whitehall is fully enhanced, an additional 5 miles of trails will be added. Whitehall is open to the community today and visitors can enjoy unimproved trails, longleaf pines, and open fields for picnics, kite flying, and play.
The Town offers recreation & library programs in the Whitehall house and plans to renovate the carriage house for additional programming, private rental space, and to serve as a visitor entry to the overall park.
Reservoir Park is the biggest park in Moore County, the largest municipal-owned park south of the Triangle, and the 4th largest municipal-owned park in North Carolina.
WHITEHALL MASTER PLAN PROCESS
In 2022, the Town partnered with two firms to prepare a master plan to enhance Whitehall as a community park for passive recreation. CPL is a multi-disciplinary firm who led the site planning, landscape architecture, and public input processes. Creech & Associates developed architectural concepts for the home, barn, and carriage house.
The Southern Pines community partnered with the Town and design team, providing invaluable over 9 months. We had active participation from over 100 community members during three public meetings. We heard feedback from 800 individuals through online surveys, plus many e-mails and phone calls. We received guidance from experts on the longleaf forest, the red cockaded woodpeckers, and the role recreation that passive recreation provides in Moore County. The Three Rivers Land Trust, which holds a conservation easement on about 40% of Whitehall, has provided their nod of approval. All of this feedback and community support has been instrumental in developing a thoughtful master plan that truly reflects the needs and desires of Southern Pines.
After nearly a year of work and community engagement, the Town Council unanimously approved the master plan on May 9, 2023. The Town will continue on developing construction documents for phase 1 during 2023-2024 and carrying out the land management practices to ensure the longleaf pines and red cockaded woodpeckers thrive in their natural habitat. Stay tuned for future updates as we continue to enhance the Whitehall tract for publicly accessible passive recreation while carefully balancing the preservation of the site's natural resources.
WHITEHALL MASTER PLAN
- Plans adopted May 9, 2023
- Town Council Public Hearing on Master Plan - May 9, 2023
- Data collection and site assessments
WHY WHITEHALL IS SPECIAL
Whitehall was thoughtfully cared for by its previous owners and the property offers 157 acres of natural lands that highlight the native ecosystems of Southern Pines, particularly the longleaf pine forest. Whitehall is home to the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker and the property is registered with the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s Safe Harbor program which helps conserve their native habitats. The property is also part of the Southeast Longleaf Pine Ecosystem Occurrences Geodatabase (LEO), a comprehensive database of longleaf pine forests to inform conservation and restoration planning.
While longleaf pines were once prominently found through the southeastern United States, covering 90 million acres from Virginia to east Texas. The once-vast longleaf forests have almost all but disappeared as they were used to provide timber for Colonial homes and sailing ships as well as tar and turpentine. They have also been lost to clearcutting, development, and fire suppression, as they rely on fire to survive (and thrive). Today, less than 5% of the historic longleaf forest remains and we are lucky to find it in the Sandhills area.
In addition to their beauty, healthy longleaf pine forests provide many benefits to both humans and wildlife. They support our freshwater systems, provide natural resilience to catastrophic storms, and help sustain the regional economy. They also provide habitats for threatened and endangered species including the red-cockaded woodpecker, gopher tortoises, pine snakes, and dusky gopher frogs. Learn more about our wonderful longleaf pines and why fire is so critical for their survival.
The Three Rivers Land Trust holds a conservation easement on 66.39 of the total 157 acres at Whitehall. This is a voluntary, legal action that protects the land’s conservation values to ensure that future generations can enjoy it for many years to come. The conservation easement on Whitehall permits the Town to open the property to the public, provided enhancements are sensitive to the efforts that have been undertaken to protect this property.
Please enjoy this video which takes you on a bird's eye view of Whitehall. The video was produced by the Southern Pines Appearance Commission for Arbor Day 2022, which was hosted at Whitehall.
Whitehall: A Treasure in Southern Pines - winter 2022 publication by the North Carolina Recreation & Park Association