Vote now to help Hugh MacRae Park become a ‘Great Space’ is your source for free news and information in the Wilmington area.

Hugh MacRae Park. Photo courtesy New Hanover County.
Hugh MacRae Park. Photo courtesy New Hanover County.

WILMINGTON – Voting is underway now for the sixth annual Great Places in NC Award; Hugh MacRae Park is one of five public spaces statewide nominated in this year’s award.

Program Coordinator Jodi Rich, at the New Hanover County Parks and Gardens Executive Development Center, told Port City Daily she was excited when the idea came across her desk.

“I heard about it from an employee on the county planning department,” Rich said. “I started looking at the award and what they were looking for — a public space that brought together community — and I thought Hugh MacRae, with all the work we’ve put into it recently, was perfect. We’ve got all kinds of sports facilities…and we’ve finished the inclusive playground. I think that was the last piece of the puzzle, because now all those kids who couldn’t participate before, they can. So we can say it truly is a space for everyone. It’s a great centerpiece to the city, and the county.”

The contest is organized by the North Carolina chapter of the American Planning Group (APA-NC). The APA-NC awards program was started in 2012 to bring attention to successful projects to create and improve the public spaces of our state. Awards in previous years have highlighted ‘Great Main Streets,’ ‘Great Historic Renovations’ and – as with this year’s award – ‘Great Public Spaces.’

APA nc great public spaces
The “Great Places” award contest, organized by the North Carolina chapter of the American Planning Association. In 2014, the Burnsville Town Square won the award. (Courtesy APA-NC)

Winners of the great places award are publicized throughout the year by APA-NC. In the past, communities with winning ‘great places’ have used the award to help bolster grant applications and secure economic development plans, according to APA-NC. Rich said, most of all, she was hoping the award would help spread the word about improvements at the park.

“I still talk to people who live here, who’ve lived here for a while, and they don’t know about all the facilities we have,” Rich said. “They don’t know about the splashpad at the playground opening in April. So, just letting people know what they have, right here in their community, would be the real benefit.”

The new inclusive playground at Hugh MacRae Park, which was funded by a Trillium grant. Photo by Hannah Leyva.
The new inclusive playground at Hugh MacRae Park. (Photo by Hannah Leyva)

The current voting tally has Lewisville’s Shallowford Square in the lead with 358 votes, followed by Salem Square, in Winston Salem, with 139 votes. Wilmington’s Hugh MacRae park trails behind with 57 votes.

“I think Lewisville might have jumped ahead all at once,” Rich said. “We’re going slow and steady. But I think we can beat them.”

Voters must have an active Facebook page. Sign into the contest at the APA-NC contest page to vote. Voting opened at noon on Feb. 1 and will close at 5 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 24.