WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH — The Town of Wrightsville Beach is hoping to give a much-needed facelift to one of the town’s most visited spots, the beach access at Johnnie Mercer’s Pier.
Preliminary plans for a new oceanfront park have been created by Paramounte Engineering and the town is actively seeking out funding to help get the project off the ground.
Mayor of Wrightsville Beach Bill Blair said the area at Mercer’s Pier has been sitting dormant for several years now, and although it is always a popular spot for visitors and residents, it is underserved.
Blair said the area has been one of discussion in the past, but little has been done to improve it. Now, new development is taking place in the form of residential construction adjacent to the pier that will include landscaping upgrades.
The new construction inspired town leaders to take a look at what could be done to improve their own property and work with the developer to create new oceanfront beach park.
Blair said people have always wanted something done in the location in some manner, be it bathroom upgrades or landscaping, but the time never worked out. Now that the residential site has begun construction, the time was right.
The new park would include upgrades to landscaping in the area, as well as amenities including a playground, additional restrooms and restrooms, and changing facilities.
A new park sounds like a good idea, but like any project, funding becomes an issue which is why the town is getting creative with ways to pay for the park.
In March the Board of Alderman gave approval to Town Manager Tim Owens to apply for grant funding from several different sources including a CAMA Access Grants and PARTF (Parks and Recreation Trust Fund) grants.
“The maximum amount for PARTF is $400,000 which would require a $400,000 match. The maximum amount for the CAMA Access Grant is $250,000 and our match would be $62,500,” Owens said.
The town is also relying on private funding that will be provided by the developer of the neighboring residential project. According to Blair, the developer approached the town with an offer to put his own money into the park if the town was willing to provide upgrades to the site.
Fundraising for the project is still not complete, and Blair said the town has applied for several grants and is hoping to receive some funding from New Hanover County as well. While the town is expecting to pay for a portion of the park, Blair said he expects the town’s contribution to be minimal.
An official timeline is not yet but the town will know if it has been awarded any grant money in July. After that there will be more public meetings to help guide the process, and the town will know exactly what upgrades can be made with the funding provided.
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