07/27/07 — City denied grant for revamped park plan

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City denied grant for revamped park plan

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on July 27, 2007 1:45 PM

Moments before Stoney Creek Park Committee members walked the trails at the Ash Street site, they listened as acting chairman Sissy Lee-Elmore broke some bad news -- the state rejected the committee's $500,000 Parks and Recreation Trust Fund grant request for the project.

Former Recreation and Parks director Neil Bartlett said the application was denied because it lacked both a public survey and comprehensive parks plan, studies he said that would show state officials whether or not the $2 million project works for Goldsboro.

"(The state) needs to see proposed plan and survey to see what the public wants and needs," he said.

But committee member and City Councilman Bob Waller said he did not understand why the three public meetings held last year at Herman Park Center did not qualify as a public survey.

"Shouldn't they count?" he asked.

"Apparently, they did not," Bartlett replied.

Mrs. Lee-Elmore said the last public survey she organized ran close to $75,000 and took several months to complete, but agreed with other committee members who said it is time to ask the City Council to allocate funding.

To date, the city has not spent any money on the park plan.

City Manager Joe Huffman said he would put together a request for the funds it will take to "keep the ball rolling."

"If you can get $500,000 for $50,000, I think it would be a smart thing," he said.

But there was more to Thursday's meeting than bad news.

Bartlett said despite the setback, progress has been made.

In fact, the project was awarded a North Carolina Adopt-a-Trail grant that brought in $1,600 for benches along the trails officials said will be constructed with more than $30,000 they hope to receive in North Carolina Recreational Grant Program funds.

"We're very optimistic that we will be funded for that," Bartlett said.

And the proposed six-acre lake might be close to gaining approval, too, he added.

"It could be any day now," Bartlett said.

No construction has taken place at the park since the plan -- which calls for a water feature in the middle of the property surrounded by trails, walking paths and a community garden area -- received preliminary approval from the council last November.

And committee members said they are certain that a comprehensive parks plan and public survey would take more than six months to complete.

But for Waller, the latest development is just a minor setback on the road to a revamped Stoney Creek Park.

"We'll be all right," he said. "We're getting there."

-- Staff writer Anessa Myers contributed to this report.