Town officials learned last week that the state Local Government Commission has given its approval for the town to borrow $2.9 million from BB&T to help finance the $4.1 million park. The park is scheduled to be completed in August.
“This is great news for the town because this shows how strong the town is,” Councilman Greg Cummings said. “It will definitely help within our town and within a six-mile radius. This will give those groups across the county a chance to come and use the facility as well.”
The complex will include four baseball fields, a soccer field, three basketball courts, five tennis courts, a volleyball court, a playground, walking trails and picnic areas. It will be located on N.C. 711, directly across from the new Pembroke Hardware.
By law, all municipalities in North Carolina must get state approval to borrow money for real estate projects. The Local Government Commission examines the town's finances and its potential growth to determine if it can make good on the loan.
The remaining money for the park is expected to come from state grants and a combination of local public and private contributions.
The Town Council will hold a meeting on Tuesday during which it will award construction contracts for the work.
The project has been a long time getting started. Talk of the complex began in 2003 and it was predicted then that it would be ready in 2005. It was put off as officials tried to find money to pay for it. Mayor Milton Hunt and Councilman Allen Dial have opposed the project, saying it could force the town to raise taxes, and some town residents expressed that concern during a public hearing on the project.
But Cummings and Councilman Larry Brooks disagree.
“With our current tax base and the new businesses we've gained over the last four or five years, I think we are in good shape,” Cummings said. “We are going to lease the facility to various groups to help the town make the payments.
“There's no doubt this will strengthen economic growth in our town and entice other businesses to come in. And these new businesses will help pay for that complex.”
However, the Town Council did agree to the Local Government Commission's stipulation that property taxes be raised if needed.
“I don't think we will have to (raise taxes), but if we do I think it will be worth it,” Brooks said. “We are going to meet the town's recreational needs for the next 50 years. I am just enthused and excited for all our citizens and for our youth.”