By early fall, residents will find out if plans for a park in west Lincoln will get a $500,000 boost.
County commissioners recently pledged to match up to $250,000 in grants applied for through the Land and Water Conservation Fund.
The park would be located on a 54-acre tract on Hullâ€™s Grove Church Road.
A planning committee has been working to find out what residents want in the park and has held public meetings to gather input.
Jim Hallman, vice chairman of the West Lincoln Community Group, told commissioners at their recent meeting that the park would serve the growing needs of the community.
â€œThere is quite a lot of community support to move forward with the park,â€ Hallman said. â€œWe feel that the community is very interested in and supportive of the west Lincoln park development.â€
Forty-four people showed up for a community meeting March 7 to discuss plans for the park.
Dwayne Davis, a member of the Recreation Commission and a west Lincoln resident, expressed his support of the park during the Board of Commissioners meeting March 15.
â€œItâ€™d be a beautiful place to have a park, and itâ€™d be a great addition to the community,â€ Davis said.
The committee recommended a core of elements for development of the park, including a picnic shelter with restrooms, playground, volleyball courts, horseshoe pits, amphitheater, mountain bike course, open field space and walking trails.
A primary consideration for this park is to keep the rural, open space character and concentrate on passive pursuits instead of facilities for highly organized activities like ball fields, said Erma Deen Hoyle, director of Lincolnton-Lincoln County Parks and Recreation.
An open field would be set aside for multi-sport team activities and could also be used to play Frisbee, fly kites or hold childrenâ€™s field days.
Commissioner Tom Anderson said during the March 15 meeting that the west Lincoln park could work in coordination with Beatties Ford Park, which is under construction in east Lincoln.
Opportunities offered at each park could attract people from the others, he said.
â€œThose two parks, once developed, can work together,â€ Anderson said. â€œI think this is an excellent first step, and itâ€™s one we should take.â€
Commissioner Carrol Mitchem said the benefits of the part in west Lincoln would help show the diversity of the county.
â€œItâ€™s not only an asset to west Lincoln, but an asset to all of Lincoln County,â€ Mitchem said.Grant applications will be reviewed in early summer, and approval is announced in the fall. The grant period runs for three years, so the local match can be budgeted over the three-year cycle.by Alice Smith