Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Regional parks to receive almost $1M in grants from state trust fund

Founders Park in Leland was awarded $489,000 in park grants from the state. (Port City Daily/Courtesy photo)

SOUTHEASTERN N.C. — The N.C. Parks and Recreation Trust Fund (PARTF) provided over $5 million in grants to state parks, Gov. Roy Cooper announced last week. Of the 14 parks and recreation projects awarded the money, two are located in the Cape Fear region — in Brunswick and Pender counties.

“The local parks and recreation projects funded by these grants are especially important this year as the public use of parks, trails, and greenways has increased during the pandemic,” Gov. Cooper said in a release.

Located at 113 Town Hall Dr. in Leland, the 8-acre Founders Park is among the recipients. The park hosts live concerts and community film nights during spring and fall, as well as holiday events, from Halloween trunk or treat to Christmas lights displays. Its open green space includes a 0.6-mile paved multi-use path, as well as a gazebo, stage, picnic tables, benches, and playground.

In January 2021, the Town of Leland developed a site master plan to upgrade Founders Park in multiple phases. Phase one is estimated to cost $3,613,357 in improvements.

“The total anticipated cost (in today’s dollars) for all phases of the project is $6,875,055,” Town of Leland spokesperson Jessica Jewell explained.

Founders will receive $489,000 in PARTF grants to continue its phase one construction, which is expected to start in 2022.

“We do not have an estimated completion date just yet,” Jewell added. “Other phases of the project will come in subsequent years.” 

The money will be used to implement recreational elements, including the addition of an amphitheater, playground, splash pad, fitness stations, natural play area, walking trail renovations, picnic shelters, veteran’s memorial, more parking, restrooms, and site furnishings. 

“Now people looking for ways to remain physically active and connect with nature and each other will have a newly renovated facility to do just that,” Wyatt Richardson, operation services director for the Town of Leland, explained.

North of Wilmington in Surf City, the Earl G. and Inez Batts Recreation Complex will receive $500,000 — the maximum amount of grants awarded — from the PARTF grants. The Town of Surf City has applied for $1.4 million in grant funding to outfit 53.8 acres of new parkland, including a skatepark, walking trails, all-inclusive playground, 18-hole disc golf course, sand volleyball courts, and more.

This year North Carolina Parks and Recreation Authority received 58 applications amounting to $19.3 million in needs. Parks that receive the grants must also match funds dollar-for-dollar of the amount awarded. Annually, the authority must allocate 30% of PARTF’s total funding to local government projects.

“These grants will help communities across our state provide outdoor recreation opportunities that improve physical and mental health, enhance quality of life, and strengthen local economies,” D. Reid Wilson, secretary of the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, said in a release.

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