Pasquotank to seek $150K park grant for Newland site


By Jon Hawley
Staff Writer

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Pasquotank County officials plan to pursue a $150,000 state grant toward the cost of building a new park for northern county residents.

During their finance committee meeting Monday at the county library, commissioners voted 6-0 in favor of County Manager Sparty Hammett's proposal to seek $150,000 from the NC Parks and Recreation Trust Fund, or PARTF. The grant would be due in May, by which time county officials hope to be closer to securing a site for the park, which Hammett said should be more than 10 acres.

The PARTF grant will also require a dollar-for-dollar match from the county, for which Hammett proposed setting aside $136,000 from the county's capital reserves, plus $14,000 from park funds.

Pasquotank and Elizabeth City officials discussed the park during their joint meeting last week. City-county Parks and Recreation Director Dexter Harris said Newland residents had presented him a petition with 250 signatures calling for the park, which they say is needed because Newland has no convenient, nearby parks with enough amenities.

Assistant City Manager Angela Cole also said the city-county master plan for parks and recreation calls for several more “neighborhood parks” such as the one Newland residents are seeking. Their requested features include a walking trail, a pavilion, picnic tables, multipurpose fields and a playground.

Cole also noted that, while city officials would assist with the park and oversee its maintenance, the county would have to get the land and pay for building the park, which would be well past the city limits.

At their meeting Monday, commissioners reiterated their support for the project, with Northern Outside Commissioner Joe Winslow commenting Newland residents have been asking for the park for at least eight years.

Where the park would go is unclear. Hammett said the county is considering six sites, but hasn't started negotiating with property owners yet. That makes the cost of land acquisition unclear, though county officials have said some property owners might donate land for the project — possibly with the expectation the park would be named after them.

Hammett also said Monday the county might manage the park’s costs by building it in phases, such as by starting with a walking trail and picnic tables before adding costlier amenities.

Pasquotank Chairman Cecil Perry suggested last week that the park have a basketball court, citing the lack of available courts in northern Pasquotank.

City and county officials agreed last week that an ideal location would be easily accessible and visible. That led Commissioner Frankie Meads to suggest the park be near Morgan’s Corner. Commissioner Charles Jordan agreed Newland had a lot of population near there, but noted some people will have to drive to the park wherever it goes.