Fundraising starts for Troutman park

For Troutman, a town that never had a park of its own, the prospect of developing a family recreational complex on 30 acres has seemed like just a dream.

But through the cooperation of Engineered Sintered Components, a large local employer, that dream may yet become a reality. ESC has offered to lease vacant property it owns between its Murdock Road complex and Troutman Town Hall to the city for $1 per year. The lease would run for 30 years.

In response to the ESC offer, the town formed a park planning committee that gathered input from residents and drew up plans for the facility.

The proposal includes a multi-purpose athletic field for soccer and football, a walking trail through preserved woods, and a safe, modern playground.

Now comes the hard part: getting the $1.05 million needed to build phase I of the park. Town Planner Erika Martin said the fundraising must be done quickly.

To get a matching grant from the state Parks and Recreation Trust Fund Program, the town must file an application by Jan. 31, she said.

Martin said the Troutman Area Council has been designated as the fundraising subcommittee. A regional partner of the Greater Statesville Chamber of Commerce, the council is comprised of business owners in and around Troutman who meet monthly to organize events, network and improve business opportunities for members.

The council's goal is to raise $400,000 in the next 40 days. The land donated by ESC is worth another $100,000 so the committee plans to seek a matching grant of $500,000 from the state to round out the $1 million-plus needed to prepare the site and build the first phase of the park.

"Bill Brater, who successfully raised $1 million for the school system in a handful of days, is championing this subcommittee," said Martin. "A big push to contact businesses and individuals for monetary support began this week."

Donations of specific amounts are being suggested by the subcommittee. For example, naming rights to the playground, walking trail, picnic shelter, or field will be available for $200,000; several sponsor benches will offered at $5,000 each; and trees with name plaques will be available for $500.

They are also exploring the possibility of fundraising bricks for those who want to contribute smaller amounts.

Can the $400,000 goal be reached in such a short time? Martin thinks so.

"The subcommittee believes that the many business leaders and citizens who care about their community will make Troutman's first park happen through giving of their time, talents and generosity."