08/24/07 — Alliance seeks help to secure grant funds

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Alliance seeks help to secure grant funds

By Anessa Myers
Published in News on August 24, 2007 2:05 PM

Members of the Stoney Creek Park Alliance are trying to get money they will need to push the project forward. And to accomplish that, they have brought in an expert.

Bob Masters, president of Carolina Opportunities Inc. in Snow Hill, was invited to Thursday's meeting to help the alliance with writing grants to secure funding for the project.

Masters said he has helped secure more than $1 million for Greene County.

The Alliance hopes he can do the same for Goldsboro.

Last year, the alliance submitted its first application for a Parks and Recreation Trust Fund (PARTF) grant, which is administered by the N.C. Division of Parks and Recreation, for the Stoney Creek Park project.

At last month's meeting, however, the alliance learned the grant was denied because of a lack of a public survey and no comprehensive parks plan.

So, the members are working to get that information -- and to try again.

Masters told the members not to get too discouraged.

"The likelihood to get funding the first time is unlikely no matter how perfect (the application) is," he said. "The PARTF grant is very lock step. If it doesn't all fall into perfect, easy order, it won't work. They want you to tell them exactly where each thing is and on what page. That's how simplistic they want it."

The city already owns most of the land for the Stoney Creek Park project, and the council has already approved the spending of $500,000, along with whatever grants the group might receive. Masters said that places the Goldsboro project above many others that are in the works in other cities.

"You're already years and years ahead of most people," he said. "You already own the property, and that is a huge, huge amount of work that is not your problem now."

Government support helps as well.

"Between the fact that you own the property and already got the city to give the money, that's 70 percent of the ball game," he said. "The rest of it is paperwork. Just getting the city to step up to the plate right out of the box, that's amazing."

Masters suggested that the committee stress that the land for the project was either bought by or donated to the city because of flooding.

The fact that the park is inside city limits is another bonus in the eyes of the state.

"This is real, real, real unique being in the city," Masters said. "Usually you see things like this in the suburbs or around the city."

Masters warned that the public survey is a big deal in the grant application process.

"Unless the city has a direct input, it's of no value to (the state)," he said. "Make formal presentations to as many possible groups as you can with the survey."

The alliance agreed to circulate the survey three ways -- including it in water bills, posting links to the survey on area Web sites and providing copies at recreation centers.

Councilman Bob Waller said he would like to go ahead and get some walking and biking trails completed.

Alliance Chairman Dr. Peter Roethling agreed.

"We can't just sit back and wait for the big grant money," he said. "We need to evolve and develop as we go. It's probably our best direction now."

Masters said he would help the alliance with anything that they needed, whether it be just attending the committee meetings for a while, just writing the grant or contributing to the entire plan, and his company does not get "anywhere as far as pay goes until the client gets funding," he said.

The Alliance recently received a grant from the Adopt-a-Trail program for park benches, allowing them to do bench work from Sept. 1 to May 28, 2008.

There is also another grant in the second phase for $32,000.

Alliance members also discussed suggestions for Stoney Creek Park to include areas such as a dog park or botanical garden, but no plans are close to being finalized.

Recreation and Parks Director Sonya Shaw said the group will continue seeking funding.

"We will definitely re-file for the grant by January, and I hope the public survey will be completed by December," she said.