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Park in East Lincoln draws closer to reality

The dream of a recreational park in eastern Lincoln County took one step closer to reality last Tuesday.
At the monthly East Lincoln Area Council (ELAC) meeting held at Safari Miles in front of an overflow crowd, design renderings were displayed and presented by Denver resident Sylvia Holmes and the Lincolnton/Lincoln County parks and recreation director, Erma Deen Hoyle.
“This whole process began at a Rotary club meeting,” said Holmes. “We asked ‘Why is there no park in east Lincoln.’”
That was in the fall of 1997. Seven years later, by August 2004, a committee overseeing the project signed a 30 year lease at $0 per year.
“At the beginning with the park, I was working on my own and consulting,” said Holmes. “I was following the progress until five years ago when I got on the parks and recreation committee.”
She added the committee got together and started “tweaking” the plan.
“What we’re planning to do is to provide passive recreation for families to come and enjoy,” said Holmes.
During the presentation, Holmes presented the crowd with a cost estimate for the park.
The grand total estimate for the park is around $973,000.
“That doesn’t include some engineering fees,” added Hoyle. “We’re looking right at about $1 million.”
According to Hoyle, similar plans are in the works for western Lincoln County as well.
“The park in east Lincoln will include a splash park for children, a volleyball court, picnic and restroom facilities,” said Hoyle.
The planned entrance into the picnic shelter area is planned for the end of Unity Church Road.
“I also hope the park can get a fishing pier and a pump station for boats,” said Holmes.
According to both Holmes and Hoyle, grant money for the park has already started rolling in, thanks to a $155,000 grant for the splash park by Timken.
“The seven year delay has been very frustrating,” commented Holmes.
Holmes added that Duke Power plans to pay for some items in the new park, especially during Duke’s relicensing period when “some shareholders said they want to see Duke do more community work.”
“Duke is going to pay for the restrooms and some of the picnic shelters,” said Holmes. “We’ve got a verbal agreement with Duke in the hopes to get some Lincoln County grant monies.”
According to Holmes, Duke may also investigate putting in a swimming beach.
The groundbreaking on Beattys Ford Park is scheduled for sometime this summer.
“How much we get done in the first phase depends on how much grant monies we’re able to secure,” said Hoyle. “Lincoln County has $260,000 in existing funds and we’ve applied for $500,000 from the parks and recreation trust fund grant.”
Hoyle added that whatever amount the parks and recreation department is awarded, the department would have to match the award equally.
The park will be named for the boat access that is already there.
“It’s an already well-known area,” said Hoyle. “We didn’t name the park, we inherited the name.”
Among those attending the meeting were Lincoln County Commission chairman Tom Anderson, a resident of eastern Lincoln County.
He said that the recreation needs of the county have been well documented.
“The board of commissioners have charged the recreation department to develop the best organizational structure to work on the results of the recreation study,” said Anderson. “That study produced $41 million dollars in recreation needs. We now know what our challenge is – capital projects across the county.”
When asked if the study was specifically for eastern Lincoln County, Anderson said “no.”
“The study was county-wide,” said Anderson. “It’s fair to say what surfaced as needs in the east were also needs in the west. By getting both the west Lincoln and Beattys Ford parks started, we hope to get people to go across the county to take advantage of the different opportunities each park offers.”
In other news, the president of Denver Days made a major announcement during the meeting.
Jerry Earnest revealed that for the 2006 Denver Days, the Marshall Tucker Band – a 1970s classic rock group – will perform during the event.
“About this time four years ago, I was approached to start Denver Days,” said Earnest. “I went to business leaders and formed a non-profit corporation to benefit recreation here in East Lincoln.”
Earnest added that the group is working with an investor for 50 acres of land somewhere in the Denver area.
“Are you saying that this investor is looking to donate these 50 acres to us,” asked ELAC member Andrew Johnson.
Patsy Black with Peoples Bank responded by saying “We’re looking to acquire this land for Denver Days and other events. We’re still in the planning stages of this.”
When asked, she did not release the name of the potential investor.

by Jon Mayhew

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