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At their most recent meeting, Lincolnton City Council was presented with the City of Lincolnton Parks and Recreation Master Plan. McGill & Associates prepared this plan in conjunction with the one that was recently approved by the Lincoln County Board of Commissioners. 

In preparing this plan, three drop-in meetings were held in January that were attended by approximately 50 community members. The general comments received by those that attend were that the city needed more trails, pickleball courts, a larger pool, more gym space, a large multi-activity complex and that community centers open after 5 p.m.

The top five amenities that attendees wanted to see added were an athletic complex (56 votes), natural surface trails (26 votes), indoor aquatics (24 votes), pickleball (20 votes) and an adventure play area (18 votes). 

The online survey was prepared in conjunction with the county, 26% of those responding was from Lincolnton residents. The bulk of those responding were female. One question asked in the survey was what is the greatest barrier to your household’s regular participation in recreational activities? The answer receiving the most response was desired programs not available followed up by not enough time and too far a distance. A large percentage of those who answered the survey (60.44%) traveled out of Lincoln County to use a recreational facility or program. Lincoln County recreational facilities were rated 38.93% good, 30.53% fair, 13.31% poor, 11.46% don’t know and 5.77% excellent. City of Lincolnton facilities were overall rated good, 27.31%, with 39.90% don’t know. Keep in mind, only 29% of the total were city residents.

The top ten responses to which recreational programs and special events would the household participate in on a regular basis were

  1. Walking
  2. Fourth Of July Celebration (Joint City/County Event)
  3. Exercise Classes
  4. Summer Day Camp
  5. Open Gym Pickleball
  6. Open Gym Volleyball
  7. Art Classes
  8. Lincoln County Senior Games
  9. Senior Exercise Classes
  10. Bingo

The top ten City of Lincolnton recreational programs and special events that survey responders participated in on a regular basis were 

  1. Fourth of July Celebration (Joint City/County event)
  2. Youth Soccer League
  3. Halloween Trick-or-Treating event
  4. Easter Egg Hunt
  5. Movies in the Park
  6. Youth Flag Football League
  7. Swim Lessons
  8. Youth Summer Sports Camps
  9. Open Gym Basketball
  10. Youth Volleyball League

Improvements requested to be made to existing Lincoln County parks included adding lighting (47.75%), improve picnicking (30.98%), landscaping (25.94%), signage(16.22), parking (14.12%), offering more concessions (19.16%), updating restrooms (33.82%), and expanding parks (60.49%).

For City of Lincolnton facilities, the top five were expansion, lighting, restrooms, picnicking and landscaping.

The most important recreation features/amenities that respondents thought could be offered at a public park or recreation facility were as follows:

  1. Jogging/Walking Trails
  2. Nature Based Recreation
  3. Playground
  4. Bike Trails
  5. Water Access-Canon/Kayak Launch
  6. Outdoor Swimming Pool
  7. Aquatics Center
  8. Multi-purpose Field
  9. Splash Pad
  10. Picnic Areas

Programs that people wanted to be offered at public parks or recreational facilities included

  1. Movies in the Park Event
  2. Bark in the Park Event
  3. Indoor Soccer League/Futsal League
  4. Adult Softball League
  5. Youth Lacrosse League
  6. Adult Soccer League/Tournament
  7. Adult Basketball Tournament
  8. Disc Gol League
  9. Disc Golf Tournament
  10. Adult Kickball League

A large percentage of responders (61.29%) used school or private facilities and 83.88% felt that there is a need for additional recreational space in Lincoln County and 81.47% were in favor of expanding recreational opportunities in the county. For the City, 52.85% believing more was needed with 63.78% in favor of expanding.

The total estimated 10-year facility costs were

Betty G. Ross Park $1,125,000

First Federal Park $308,000

City Park $261,500

Highland Drive Park $1,120,000

Marcia H. Cloninger Rail Trail $1,082,000

Future Community Park $4,000,000

Future Neighborhood Park $2,000,000

Future Mini Parks $1,600,000

Total Opinion of Probable Costs: $11,496,500

General recommendations were including but not limited to:

• Accessibility/Connectivity

• Design

• Maintenance

• Policies

Existing Facility Recommendations

• Improvements/Maintenance

Future Park Recommendations

• Expansion of Service Area (one new community park, one new neighborhood park, two new mini parks near downtown)

Recommendations Summary

Facility Proposals & Recommendations –Guidelines based on established standards

• Athletic Fields 

• Picnicking

• Playgrounds

• Trails (walking/biking)

Staffing Recommendations

• Full-time positions and Part-time/seasonal positions

Suggested priorities for development included

2021-2025

  • Continue to make accessibility and safety improvements at all City owned facilities
  • Identify land for acquisition for new neighborhood park and future mini parks
  • Survey and involve local community stakeholders to weigh-in on what programming and amenities would be best for each future facility (reference this plan’s survey findings as well)
  • Partner with Lincoln County to provide aquatic (pool) needs of County/City residents
  • Update playground equipment/accessible surfacing for all parks
  • Seek funding opportunities for all existing park improvements
  • Implement improvements for all existing parks as funding and budgets allow

2026-2031

  • Continue implementation of identified existing park improvements
  • Construct trail from southern end of Marcia H. Cloninger trail to Betty G. Ross Park and continue southward per Lincolnton Urban Area CTP
  • Work with area senior communities to improve transit options to City parks

Council voted unanimously to adopt the plan.

Tanya Osborne, Human Resources Director presented the recent pay study that was done for the City of Lincolnton Police Department. The results indicated that the entry level salary of an officer be at least in the range of mid-40,000s in order for Lincolnton to be competitive with surrounding cities. 

In light of this survey, council voted unanimously to increase the pay scale for three positions within the police department, master police officer, investigator and police officer. They also voted to change pay grades within the police department and that they were in favor of putting sworn law enforcement positions on an annual pay scale review.

In other business a public hearing was held regarding an application from Piedmont Companies Inc., requesting a Conditional Rezoning from R-8 and R-O Districts to the Planned Residential District for the purpose of building 20 Townhomes which is in the same location that Fresh Market used to operate. The subject property is 1.5 acres in size and is made up of three parcels located on the north side of East Main Street approximately 150 feet east of the intersection of Huss Street and East Main Street. Council members voted to send the application back to staff for further review and discussion regarding access to the development. Another public hearing will be held at the next month’s meeting of the council.

Council voted to add a stop sign on the north side of Motz Avenue traveling westbound to allow for safe crossing of those using the dog park.

Dale Punch presented on a hometown heroes project within the City of Lincolnton to honor veterans. His idea will mirror what the City of Cherryville has done in their downtown area with flags of veterans with ties to Lincoln County residents hung in the downtown area for a certain period of time each year. The cost of each banner would be funded by friends and relatives of each veteran. Council members approved this project unanimously.

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