HUNTERSVILLE – Mecklenburg County parks and recreation is looking closely at making some changes to Latta Plantation, an 1800 living history farm and nonprofit located within the Latta Plantation Nature Preserve.

Jim Garges, Mecklenburg County parks and recreation director, believes the preserve makes a doable place for upgrades. Garges mentioned the upgrade during a Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce last month.

Garges said the department wants to combine the nature center and the Carolina Raptor Center into one, new facility as thousands visit the Latta grounds.  

“We are getting ready to do the master plan for Latta. We have about $7 million to $8 million. We’re going to invest back in Latta,” Garges told the chamber crowd. “We’re going to be making improvements to a lot of the existing systems in Latta."

But there are no specific plans laid out yet as authorities are still figuring out the logistics and details as far as the changes go.

“We are still in preliminary discussions about the project,” Garges said. 

The parks and recreation department has about $5 million set aside for the nature center. Garges said he has been working the raptor center for four years on this project and will decide where the facility will be located based on the master plan.  

“If we can pull that off, the nature center and the raptor center in a brand new facility, this is going to be world class,” Garges said. “It’s going to be very exciting.”

Former executive director of Latta Plantation Kristin Toler said some kind of potential changes to Latta have been in talks for a little while now.

About five years ago, Mecklenburg County considered the idea of building a new facility next to the Latta Plantation historic site at the back of the park.

But the director of the time and board chair expressed concern to parks and recreation that parking could be an issue. Parking overflow would worsen during big events, which Latta Plantation relies on to stay open.

“Currently, the four businesses (Latta Plantation, Carolina Raptor Center, Latta Equestrian Center and Latta Plantation Nature Center) are spread out,” Toler said. “If the new joint facility is built in the back, next to the historic site, three of the four businesses will be right on top of each other."

Latta Plantation Nature Preserve is located at 6211 Sample Road and serves as Mecklenburg County’s largest preserve.