State grant denied

First Posted: 9/25/2009

LUMBERTON A month after the city learned it didnt receive a $500,000 state grant for phase two of Northeast Park, city officials are brainstorming on how to keep the project rolling until they submit a new application in February.
While the city prepares another grant application for next year, the City Council will hear a request to use $250,000 of local money to push the park forward.
A decision on the Parks and Recreation Trust Fund grant had been expected on July 24, but was postponed until the states budget was finalized. City Parks and Recreation officials received a letter on Aug. 24 that said Lumberton would not receive funding this year.
Of 85 applicants in the state, 22 municipalities received a total of $8.5 million. The money comes from taxes on real estate transfers, which the state awards to cities for building and renovating parks. New Hanover County took the lions share with $956,393 for two projects.
City Manager Wayne Horne said Lumberton will submit a refined application by the February deadline for 2010 grants.
We stand a pretty good chance for the next round, he said.
Horne said that after a month of considering various options, city officials decided to propose to the City Council that it use the $250,000 allotted in its fiscal year 2009-2010 budget and start work on a few fields.
Phase two, which will cost about $1.6 million, involves a pinwheel of baseball fields, with a tower in the middle that will provide boxes, scoreboards and concessions for all five fields.
Park organizers divided construction of the 91-acre park, between Meadow and Hornet roads, into five phases, and building each phase is contingent on grant money.
The first phase cost $1 million, half of which came from the Parks and Recreation Trust Fund grant. The grant requires dollar-for-dollar matching, so the city allotted $250,000 in its budget from the telecommunications tax fund and in-kind services, and another grant covered the balance.
Horne said in August that the city planned to pay for the second phase the same way: the state grant, $250,000 matching money from the city, and work from Robeson Community College students in a Heavy Equipment Operator training program, paid for by a Golden LEAF Foundation grant.
The funds are going through us to the community college for the heavy equipment program, so theyll go ahead and start work on the Little League fields, Horne said.
While the RCC program will still begin work on the baseball fields, the second phase cannot be completed without additional funding.
If council approves that proposal, preliminary work on the baseball fields erecting fences, etc. would begin in the spring. It was unclear on Friday when the City Council would hear the proposal.

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