Through a $175,100 Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant, Huntersville will replace outdated athletic field lighting for two ball fields at North Mecklenburg Park.
The federal funds were awarded to the town as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and will cover nearly all project costs. The town will pick up extra expenses if needed.
The 20-year-old lighting system at the town park off Old Statesville Road near Sam Furr Road does not meet current town ordinances, but was grandfathered in more than five years ago. The new remote-controlled, energy-efficient system is scheduled to be up and running by summer.
The lighting system for the park's other two ball fields was installed in 2001 and doesn't need upgrades.
The deteriorating lighting system with its wooden poles was the obvious fix for the amount of funding given to the town, said Bobby Williams, Huntersville's management assistant.
"We were already contemplating this project, but did not have the funds to pay for it as budgets everywhere are tightening," he said.
The old system costs about $15,000 a year to run.
Michael Jaycocks, Huntersville Parks and Recreation director, estimates the project will reduce the lighting system's energy consumption by 20 percent and will save the town $1,000 per field annually on electricity alone. It also will free up staff normally required to be on site to operate and maintain the lights.
There also will be a dramatic decrease in outages and bulb replacements, Jaycocks said. At $59 per bulb, plus staff time to install them, savings will be relatively noticeable over time.
"It's been our list and we're glad to have the opportunity to take this project on," Jaycocks said.
The fields are heavily used by adult and youth leagues, school teams and the public, Jaycocks said. Not including practices, the park's four fields host about 600 games a year.
The high-tech system also can be turned on and off using pass codes, which can be given to coaches and others who use the fields, again minimizing paid staff involvement. The system's anti-glare technology will provide more consistent lighting and help make the fields safer for players as well.
The town of Huntersville received an allocated amount of funding based on its population of about 40,000, the 21st most populated town in N.C, Jaycocks said. Huntersville was among the top 25 cities/towns in the state to receive funding from the ARRA program.
Most of the town's facilities were built within the past 10 years, and some are currently scheduled for replacement, so the town decided that retrofitting existing buildings wasn't the best way to use the funding.
There also were needs at Huntersville Family Fitness and Aquatics, Williams said, but provisions of the grant exclude swimming pools from receiving ARRA funding.