Parks bond money left over
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Sunday, Sep. 26, 2010

Parks bond money left over

Commissioners to decide what to do with unspent $3.2million; may repay earlier expenses.

MOORESVILLE The Mooresville Board of Commissioners has a pleasant problem on its hands: How to spend $3.2million left over from a $25million voter-approved bond issue for parks and recreation.

Voters approved the measure earlier this decade, and the town has spent the money on all the projects it promised, Town Manager Steve Husemann said.

Those projects include the new Mazeppa Road and Cornelius Road parks, the new Hope Park at Lowe's YMCA, a skate park near the police department, an expanded Bellingham Park, field improvements in the Mooresville Graded School District and improvements at Moor Park on South Broad Street.

The town got the projects for less money than budgeted because of the weak economy, Husemann said. Contractors bid to do the work for less money than they would have in better economic times.

"This is a good-news story," Husemann told the town's Board of Commissioners Monday. "The town has more than fulfilled our promises to the community."

Husemann laid out several options for how the board could spend the available money:

The commissioners could reimburse the general fund to help pay back the $3.7million the town took out of it to buy land for Cornelius Road Park before the bond issue was approved.

Or they could reimburse the general fund part of the $3.9million it cost to buy the Mazeppa Road Park land, he said.

Husemann also said the town needs to spend $350,000 on playground equipment, benches and other amenities for the Cornelius Road and Mazeppa Road parks. The town also should reserve $100,000 for change orders to those parks, he said.

The board could consider spending $50,000 to $100,000 on improvements to Willow Valley Park, including on shelters and an outdoor basketball court, Husemann said.

The commissioners didn't settle Monday on how to spend the money. They may consider the issue again at their Oct. 4 meeting or at their November retreat.

Former commissioner Frank Rader, who attended Monday's meeting, told the Observer the money should be returned to the general fund.

"It's best practice," he said. "You put it back in the general fund from whence it came."

Volunteers needed for lake-area Big Sweep

Volunteers are needed to help clean trash from local creeks and lakes Saturday as part of the annual statewide Big Sweep.

The effort will be from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Here are details on some of the Lake Norman-area sites:

Latta Plantation Nature Preserve, 6211 Sample Road, Huntersville, will be among nine Mecklenburg County sites. Volunteers will gather at the Gar Creek Cove Canoe Access. Register your group: call 704-336-5595 or visit waterquality.charmek.org and click on "Big Sweep."

Iredell County Pinnacle Point Access on Lake Norman: Jill Feldmeyer, jillbf@charter.net; 704-458-1163.

Lincoln County Beatty Ford Access: Capt. Craig Price, craig@folkn.com; 704-996-0946.

Wear a hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, old clothes and sturdy boots or shoes. Come alone or in a group.

Gloves, trash bags, snacks and drinks will be provided. Children 14 and younger must be accompanied by an adult.

Volunteer boat captains are also needed for the Lake Norman cleanup. If you have a boat and would like to volunteer as a boat captain, or if you just want to show up and volunteer to help, email tracy@catawbariverkeeper.org or call 704-679-9494.

To thank all Lake Norman-area Big Sweep volunteers that day, the Catawba Riverkeeper and Queens Landing will host a free "after cleanup" celebration from 1 to 3 p.m. at Queens Landing, 1459 River Highway (N.C. 150 West), Mooresville. The Piedmont Natural Grass bluegrass band will perform.

Effort aims to breed better strawberry

N.C. State University agricultural researchers based at the North Carolina Research Campus are teaming with Johnson & Wales University culinary professionals and students on the N.C. Strawberry Project, an effort to strengthen the agricultural sector of the state economy.

The project connects plant breeders with the culinary world and introduces future chefs to agricultural research and N.C. farmers, researchers said.

The goal is to glean information from the culinary industry, produce buyers and consumers who N.C. State's breeding program can use to breed a better strawberry, said Jeremy Pattison, a strawberry breeder and researcher at N.C. State's Plants for Human Health Institute on the Research Campus.

"Ultimately, we want to increase the economic value and impact of N.C. strawberries, while enhancing the eating experience," Pattison said.

The project is supported by a $200,000 Golden LEAF Foundation grant.

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