A carousel originally envisioned for downtown will instead be built at the Greensboro Science Center.
The Rotary Club of Greensboro will finance construction of a new custom-made carousel at the science center, to honor the club’s 100th anniversary in 2017.
“The club has been searching for the proper way of recognizing our 100 years and the contributions that our Rotary has made to the quality of life in the city,” said Bernie Mann, president and publisher of Our State magazine and a leader in the Rotary’s carousel effort.
Mann noted that the 310-member club has helped to finance Rotary projects around the world.
“Here is a chance to do something that will bring joy and pleasure to our own community and a sense of pride that we made this happen,” Mann said.
The club has raised about $750,000 in pledges and commitments toward the $1.5 million project, Mann said.
It plans to contract with Carousel Works in Ohio to build it. Mann said he hopes that it will be ready by the end of 2017, but that 2018 is more likely.
The club will donate it to the science center, a nonprofit that works in partnership with the city. The city owns its Lawndale Drive property; the science center will manage the carousel and retain revenues.
Three years ago, the Rotary Club had planned to partner with Senior Resources of Guilford on the carousel project.
They hoped to locate it downtown, alongside a planned building for Senior Resources at the corner of Church Street and Friendly Avenue. The Weaver Foundation had donated the 4-acre lot for the structures.
It was a difficult time to try to raise $9.5 million to finance both the carousel and the Senior Resources building, Mann said.
Senior Resources bought another building. The Rotary Club looked at other potential carousel locations and eventually turned to the science center.
“The Greensboro Science Center is doing amazing things,” Mann said. “We thought that it is the proper place to put it.”
The science center has renovated and expanded its offerings in recent years and has plans for more.
Last year, it opened a treetop-adventure course called SkyWild and renovated Kids Alley into SciPlay Bay, with undersea and STEM technology.
Its expanded Wiseman Aquarium is expected to open late this year or early next year. Construction to change its dinosaur gallery to Prehistoric Passages is underway.
Design will begin in November on The River Gorge, which will double the size of its existing zoo.
Glenn Dobrogosz, science center president and CEO, plans for the carousel to launch the Battleground Parks District project. The 400-acre area includes the science center, Guilford Courthouse National Military Park and Country Park.
He envisions the carousel at the top of a hill overlooking the lake, part of an artscape with rock and botanical features.
It will be housed in an octagonal structure, customized with partial solid window walls and drop-down garage-style doors with windows, so that it can operate year-round, Dobrogosz said.
The Nov. 8 city bond referendum will include $5 million to design and build new or upgrade existing park facilities within the Battleground Parks District.
But the carousel project will proceed regardless of whether voters approve the bonds, Dobrogosz said.
The science center, Guilford Battleground and Country Park already get nearly 1 million visitors a year, he said. The carousel and the new Battleground Parks District have the potential to attract more.
“We need to capitalize on that, and the carousel is one way of doing that,” Dobrogosz said.
Although the design is not finished, the wooden carousel’s features will reflect Greensboro and its history in its upper exterior panels and figures.
Perhaps instead of horses, Mann said, some figures could be mascots at local colleges and universities.
“Our goal is for the carousel to not just be a ride but tell a story about our community,” Dobrogosz said.
In addition to Mann, Rotarians John Rosser, Ray Covington and Burney Jennings lead the project. Its fundraising, design and logistics committees work on the details, with help from the city and the science center.
Meanwhile, Senior Resources proceeds with its own plans for a new location for its services to older adults.
In November, it purchased a building at 1401 Benjamin Parkway that formerly housed the Greensboro Orthopedic Sports and Rehabilitation Center.
Guilford County property records show a sale price of $1.86 million.
Senior Resources had outgrown its 12,000-square-foot space in the Dorothy Bardolph Human Services Center at Church and East Washington streets. In January, developer Marty Kotis bought the Bardolph center from the city.
The agency is renovating the Benjamin Parkway building and looks forward to relocating there in 2017, Executive Director Ellen Whitlock said.
“We are looking forward to having more space and 21/2 acres of land and over 100 parking spaces,” Whitlock said. “There will be a lot of advantages for people who have enjoyed the Bardolph building as well as new individuals.”
The Weaver Foundation retains ownership of the 4-acre lot at Friendly Avenue and Church Street, foundation President Kevin Gray said.
In 2006, the foundation bought the land from Duke Energy for $1 million and earmarked it for future community development.
Students at Elon University Law School park on the site. A city contractor replacing water lines stores equipment there, and the National Folk Festival used it for operations. All use it without charge, Gray said.
Since plans for the carousel and Senior Resources building there didn’t pan out, the foundation hasn’t made any other plans for the land.
“It is our hope and intention to still gift it to the community when the right project comes along,” Gray said.