Construction on the first phase of the East Lincoln Rescue Park should begin soon now that funding has come through in the form of a North Carolina Parks and Recreation Trust Fund matching grant.
The Lincoln County Parks and Recreation Department announced Friday that $352,432 had been received for the project, noting in a press release that the Denver Lake Norman Rotary Club Foundation will be providing the dollar-for-dollar match for the grant.
Board of Commission Chairman Alex Patton received official notification of the award by the state’s Parks and Recreation Authority in a letter last week from Gov. Bev Perdue.
“These grant funds, along with funds from the Denver Lake Norman Rotary Club Foundation, will be used to begin the construction of athletic fields, walking trails, a disc-golf (course) and a playground in the long-awaited park to be located on Galway Lane in Denver,” officials noted in the release.
Guy Cline, who heads the foundation, told the Times-News on Tuesday that the project has been a collaborative effort between the Rotary and Lincoln County for more than three years.
It began when the county opted out of helping to fund the East Lincoln Rescue Squad, whose assets were eventually turned over to the Rotary, Cline said. The county then began to lease the roughly 31-acre tract of land to the organization for the proposed park.
However, due to the state of the economy, it was a “tough time to raise money,” he added.
And, though PARTF matching grants are officially awarded to municipalities, there was never to be any county money involved. It was the intent of the Rotary not to use any taxpayer dollars for the project, Cline noted.
Lincoln County Parks and Recreation Director Erma Deen Hoyle told the Times-News Tuesday that despite providing no funding, the county will remain the grant administrator throughout the process. Once the contract is received from the state, work can start on grading, water and electricity for the site and more detailed designs will be produced, she said.
The county will also oversee the bidding for the construction, as aligned with purchase guidelines.
The Board of Commissioners signed off on the PARTF grant application back in January.
While waiting for the funding to come together, Denver Rotarians have been working the last few years on planning the phasing process for the park.
The first phase will cost $705,000, covered in equal amounts by the newly awarded grant and by Rotary’s foundation. With all funding now on hand, Cline expects the bidding process for this phase, to include two multipurpose athletic fields, a playground, a disc-golf course and walking trails, to be under way soon.
The second phase, which will include an amphitheater and a 1.6-acre dog park, and the third phase, consisting of such amenities as a picnic shelter, are not yet funded. However, Cline said they will likely apply for similar grants in the future, in addition to relying on Rotary fundraisers.
The club formed the 501(c)(3) nonprofit foundation three years ago at the start of the initiative to allow interested individuals or businesses in the community to donate to the cause while receiving a tax deduction.
“(The park) will be a nice addition to the community,” he added.
Sources of the match from the foundation include the proceeds from Denver Days and other fundraisers, the assets of the former East Lincoln Rescue Squad and community donations.
All 55 members of the Denver Lake Norman Rotary Club have been involved, serving as a catalyst to get the project rolling, Cline said.
“We’re excited,” he said, adding that the grant has helped to kick-start the anticipation. “We’ll be off and running now.”