Header for pr 2

Shaping Communities Through Parks and Recreation

McGill is proud of the work that we do in the land planning and recreation practice area. We are thrilled to provide our friends, families, and neighbors throughout the Southeast chances to enjoy the great outdoors, maintain an active lifestyle, spend quality time with those most important to them, and develop a deeper appreciation for the communities that they call home.

Jim ford 2019
Jim Ford

“I feel that through our work, McGill’s land planning and recreation team is literally making the world a better place — from improving the actual land we live on and working to preserve the natural environment, to creating open spaces where people can make lasting memories,” said McGill Planner Jim Ford.


National Park and Recreation Month is winding down, but McGill wants to make sure you don’t forget that some of your favorite parks and recreational areas are still available for you to enjoy all year round.

Town center park oib img 5359
Town Center Park, Ocean Isle Beach

If you are down by the coast of North Carolina and looking for a park that aesthetically encompasses the nostalgic feeling of taking a trip to the beach on a summer day, check out Town Center Park in the Town of Ocean Isle Beach. McGill created multiple design alternatives for this park as a part of the Town Master Plan in 2017. The park includes a stage venue for concerts, festivals, and movies in the park; interactive fountain; arbor shade structures with benches and bench swings; restroom facility; playground area; walking path; fitness station; bike racks; bocce court; and drive and parking improvements, including electric vehicle stations.

Also in Ocean Isle Beach, you can head over to Ferry Landing Park, where McGill’s land planning and recreation team is working with the Town to repair damages from recent storms and upgrade the park amenities with funding assistance through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The park offers a gazebo, picnic tables, fishing pier, and beautiful views.

Martin marietta park ribbon cutting 20220325 113640
Martin Marietta Park, New Bern

Robert Muse Memorial Park in Boiling Springs Lakes is a great option if you’re in search of a park with sporting facilities to maintain your fitness. Park amenities such as a playground, tennis court, basketball court, volleyball court, picnic pavilion, and restrooms are available all year long.

If you are passing through New Bern, Martin Marietta Park is the largest in the city. McGill completed the Master Plan for this park site which includes a playground, picnic shelters, fishing piers, canoe and kayak access to the Neuse River and more than seven miles of trails.

Moving from the coast to a more western part of the state, the Thermal Belt Rail Trail in the Town of Forest City is a testament to the importance of tourism to the local economy and the need for passive recreation for health benefits to the community. This trail offers exercise equipment and fitness stations, bike stations, and an over 13-mile multiuse corridor that connects the Trail Partners.

Rocky face park picture4
Rocky Face Mountain Recreation Area, Alexander County

Located in northern Alexander County, Rocky Face Mountain Recreation Area is a 330-acre passive park that is primarily undeveloped and considered environmentally significant with numerous rare species of flora and fauna. McGill designed this park to incorporate sustainable and environmentally friendly design features that have a minimal impact on the ecosystem. When visiting this park, you will find a community building, picnic areas, rock climbing, camping, miles of hiking trails, an outdoor classroom, a children’s adventure playground, wetland boardwalks and restoration area, two wildlife observation decks, and an outdoor amphitheater. Educational signage was also added to identify unique habitats and plant species along portions of the surrounding nature trails.

If you enjoy walking trails with gorgeous scenic overlooks, go spend a day at Lake James State Park in Burke County. McGill helped with all utility infrastructure and permitting for this 2,000-acre park expansion that now includes a 2-mile entrance road, bathhouse, picnic shelters, and support facilities.

Goat island park ribbon cutting 05012015 52
Goat Island Park, Cramerton

Goat Island Park in the Town of Cramerton is a must if you are on the hunt for some of the best parks in the state. The property is unique because it is an island and is centrally located between the downtown district and a residential neighborhood. One of the primary components of the park is two pedestrian bridges that connect the downtown district and the neighboring residential community. This connection allows residents to access not only the island but also other areas of Town through walking and bicycling. Due to the site being an island, water-based recreation is a primary focus for the park. Other facilities consist of a disc golf course, playground, picnic shelter, riverwalk, amphitheater, and walking trails. These amenities provide activities for all age groups to participate in water-based recreation, passive recreation, and family entertainment, as well as other recreational and educational programming events.

These are only a handful of the numerous parks and recreational areas that McGill has helped to develop, and we are committed to the continuation of creating places that people will remember for their utility, beauty, and originality.


Given the geographical and cultural diversity of the region we serve, McGill prioritizes and celebrates the things that make each community unique. We’ve made it our mission to learn as much as we can about the customs and values of each client that we provide services to, in order to address difficult design problems and offer solutions that iteratively layer cultural, systemic, and environmental considerations.

Hky land planning team standing in garden 4 h glenn hilton park 05 2019“McGill likes to encourage communities to express themselves through our park programming,” explained Jim. “What people like to do at their local parks and recreation areas is very reflective of the individuals who make up the community, and we pay very close attention to those details — big and small.”


Click here to learn more about how McGill is building resilient and well-rounded communities through our work in land planning and recreation.

If you need assistance in getting a parks and recreation project off the ground, contact McGill’s Director of Land Planning and Recreation, Mike Norris, at mike.norris@mcgillassociates.com.

Relevant Articles:

Let's Start a Conversation

Let's Start a Conversation

Let us know how we can assist you by sending a message in the text box below.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.