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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

County gains $18.5-million approval for park development, other projects

Draft plan for Hanover Pines Nature Park (previously named Battle Park) located off Carolina Beach Road in southern New Hanover County. (Courtesy New Hanover County).

NEW HANOVER COUNTY — Some New Hanover County capital projects will be funded, including park improvements, thanks to Local Government Commission approval last week. 

The commission granted the county’s request to use $18.5 million in limited obligation bonds on June 6. New Hanover County will pay off the debt each year mostly using tax revenues from the general fund.

The county will use $2.3 million to fund development of the 42.5 acre-New Hanover Pines Nature Park, located off Carolina Beach Road south of Manassas Drive. 

Previously called “Battle Park,” the project has been owned by the county since 1992 and the Hanover Pines plan was included in the county’s 2021-2022 County’s Capital Improvement Plan.

Now, county leaders have decided to remake the land into a “passive park,” a space that requires limited development and is not dedicated for specific facilities or fields. According to the county’s website, passive parks can also help preserve and protect  water quality, wildlife habitats, and natural areas.  

“The county has considered this park for a number of years and received community input about it needing to be a priority,” county spokesperson Alex Riley said. “Due to increased residential development in the area, there is a significant need for passive recreational space.” 

Hanover Pines will include a 1.3-mile paved multi-use trail, a dog park, hiking trails, a picnic shelter, fitness stations and a “play and discovery area.” The design interweaves amenities with the property’s wetlands, connecting the areas with a boardwalk over the wetlands.

A children’s play and discovery area is at the heart of the park. It will include a playground, outdoor classroom, music garden, nature tunnel, rain garden and other structures, like a slide, also using the natural landscape as their foundation. 

In May, the NCDOT granted a permit for the park; the county is currently taking bids to construct the design, created by a team from Sage Design, Sawyer Sherwood & Associate, and Paramounte Engineering (the latter also spearheading the design for the proposed Carolinian Inn development). 

Once a bid is approved, construction is expected to last nine to 12 months.

Another project that gained funding by the LGC included infrastructure additions and improvements to the Blue Clay Business Park, totalling $3.6 million. The park is currently in the permitting process, with bidding expected in July and construction in August. 

The county bought the 120-acre site near the New Hanover County Detention Facility in 2008, but it wasn’t until 2017 that plans were made to develop the land. LGC funding will go toward water, sewer and road infrastructure so businesses can begin buying property in the park. 

“This business park helps to accomplish New Hanover County’s economic development strategy of providing opportunity for businesses to locate and grow in New Hanover County,” Riley said. 

Smaller-scale projects also receiving money include tennis court refurbishment at Long Leaf Park, playground installation at Veteran’s Park, a bike lane connector at Ogden Park, and additional multi-use trails at Northern Regional Park.

The county will also use a little over $2 million in funds to replace emergency services vehicles and equipment. The sheriff’s department will have 47 vehicles and two inmate transport buses replaced, while fire services will get one truck replacement. 

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