The New Hanover County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved reallocating funds to cover the $1.55 million Phase I expansion of the future Northern Regional Park.
Tara Duckworth, parks and gardens director, previously presented the plan to commissioners on March 11, and at the request of the board returned to the July 1 meeting to bring back the recommendations to expand Castle Hayne Park.
“That’s really where we see our most underserved area,” she said.
Commissioners also motioned to retain Wrightsboro and Battle parks instead of selling the properties.
To cover Phase I, $500,000 will be reallocated from the Battle Park project, $420,000 from the Wrightsboro Park project and $350,000 from library bond funds. About $57,000 will also be transferred from the Smith Creek Park capital project fund and completed bond projects.
The remaining 2006 parks bond funds, approved by citizens with a vote, are part of the project funds.
Commissioner Jonathan Barfield Jr. spoke in favor of the park expansion on March 11 and July 1, but agreed with Vice Chairwoman Beth Dawson that Wrightsboro and Battle parks should not be declared surplus property and sold.
“I do see the need for green space and parks in our community,” he said. “… In my opinion, the more parks the better.”
New Hanover County Schools has asked the county to hold onto Battle Park as a potential elementary school site.
At the request of Chairman Woody White, the final parks plan will come back before the board in advance of any official activity and open for modification, said county manager Chris Coudriet.
The expansion will include a new entrance road off of Castle Hayne Road, a multi-use trail, two additional lighted multi-purpose fields, parking, a basketball court, a mountain bike trail and disc golf improvements.
White questioned whether the money could be better used in other more densely populated areas and the maintenance required for specific purpose park use, such as disc golf.
“Disc golf, that is actually one of the biggest growing sports in the nation,” Duckworth said, adding that the parks department has partnered with a local organization to keep maintenance costs low.
The parks department used SurveyMonkey as part of the outreach to citizens for the plan, and repeatedly received requests for disc golf and mountain biking.
White then asked if there has been any discussion of a skate park. He said there is a lot of community interest and that he receives emails constantly about travel distance to skate parks.
A park needs roughly more than 100 acres to be considered a district park, Duckworth said, and with the additional acres purchased there will be about 112 acres.
The unfunded Phase II expansion, estimated to cost $1.5 million, includes two additional lighted multi-purpose fields, a restroom/shelter, a nature trail, playground improvements, a dog park and a multi-use trail expansion.