Lake Norman & Mooresville

Funding for a new park

Denver residents are one step closer to having a public park where they can play field sports like football and soccer.

Last week, the Lincoln County board of commissioners voted to submit an application for an N.C. Parks and Recreation Trust Fund grant for the East Lincoln Rescue Park. The grants are awarded annually to local governments for acquisition and development projects.

The 32.5-acre park site in east Lincoln County - on Galway Lane, just off Business N.C. 16 - is county-owned land the East Lincoln Rescue Squad used until it disbanded in 2009.

Since then, the Denver Lake Norman Rotary Club has been leasing the land.

The rotary club applied for a grant last year but was rejected, said county parks and recreation director Erma Deen Hoyle.

The county is offering its support where needed. But the Denver Lake Norman Rotary Club is spearheading fundraising and planning for the new park, she added.

Hoyle blamed last year's grant rejection, in part, on lack of state funds. Last year, more than 80 applicants requested $25 million, but the state only had $7 million to give.

The grant is funded with proceeds from the land transfer tax. The tax is collected every time a piece of real estate is sold. As real estate activity has slowed in recent years, revenue from the land transfer tax has declined.

This year, the Lincoln County Parks and Recreation Department and the Denver Lake Norman Rotary Club worked for months on a new application with Charlotte-based planning firm HadenStanziale, said Hoyle.

Applications for the grants are scored on a number of factors, including citizen concerns, endangerment of resources, number of recreation elements provided and more.

This year, there will be only $4.1 million available from the state, said Hoyle. "So we tried to strengthen the application as best we could," she said.

The group started by cutting out some amenities, said Hoyle.

For instance, a proposed dog park and part of the children's playground were removed from the grant application to lower the asking price, said Hoyle.

Those elements will be added to the park later, after planners have secured funding for the initial phase, said Hoyle.

The application that commissioners approved last week asks for $352,432.50, which will go toward creating nine holes of disc golf, three-quarter miles of walking trails, a small playground area, three small picnic tables, two multi-purpose fields and more.

The money will also help fund site preparation, landscaping and utilities. Hoyle

Because the grant is a 50-50 matching grant, The Denver Lake Norman Rotary Club will contribute the same amount, making the development of the park's first phase about $704,865.

In addition to fundraisers, the Rotary Club will raise a good portion of the money when the county ultimately sells the former East Lincoln Rescue Squad building and remaining property.

"It's the intent to try to develop it without county and public money," said Hoyle.

Active recreation space in east Lincoln County is in "constant demand," she said, adding that the only county park with ball fields is about 35 miles away, in west Lincoln County.

Hoyle said the proposed dog park at East Lincoln Rescue Park would be the first one in the county. "That's something that people often request, too," she said.

The application is due Jan. 31 to regional consultants for the N.C. Recreation Resources Service for scoring.

After that, the applications are submitted to the Trust Fund Authority for award.

The state is expected to notify winners around May and will distribute the grant money before the end of the year.