ALBEMARLE — At the Jan. 18 Stanly County Board of Commissioners meeting, representatives of three municipalities presented their proposals for grants to improve parks for their citizens. Albemarle, New London and Richfield all had their proposals approved with unanimous votes after they were considered by the board.
The first to present was Lisa Kiser, director of Parks and Recreation for the City of Albemarle. Kiser thanked the board for allowing her the chance to speak and for “the parks grant that you graciously have budgeted and put out to surrounding communities in Stanly County.”
She gave an overview of Albemarle’s facilities and parks. She said of the city’s parks, “the big ones” are Rock Creek Park, Chuck Morehead Park, Don Montgomery Park, Optimist Park and City Lake Park. Kiser said the City of Albemarle maintains 302 acres of park overall.
The particular project that she requested funding for, though, was to help finish their conversion of three tennis courts at Rock Creek Park into 10 pickleball courts.
“What I’m asking for is $6,500 to produce windscreens, benches, bleachers, picnic tables and trash receptacles,” Kiser said.
She brought a few of the pickleball players to the meeting in case the commissioners wanted to ask them about why the project was important to them. Kiser said people from all over Stanly County, and some from outside the county, travel to Rock Creek Park to participate in pickleball at the courts.
Commissioner Bill Lawhon asked how many tennis courts will remain at Rock Creek Park if they are converting three tennis courts into 10 pickleball courts.
Kiser answered, “There will be zero tennis courts at Rock Creek, but we have six tennis courts at Chuck Morehead Park,” where she said the courts are popular.
After the presentation, Commissioner Peter Asciutto made a motion to approve the grant proposal, which was seconded by Commissioner Lane Furr. The motion passed 7-0.
The next proposal was from Mayor Tate Daniels of New London.
“I want to thank you for making this grant possible to help the citizens of Stanly County, not just New London,” Daniels said.
The mayor continued, saying, “What we’re looking to do is we’re planning to construct an additional covered shelter at our town park that’s located on North Main Street.”
Daniels said the park site is 22 acres of land, which used to be a trailer park. After the land was donated, they were able to turn it into a park with over a mile of trails, a playground, a cornhole area, a small dog park, restrooms and parking for more than 100 vehicles. They also have three covered shelters, but because of the popularity of the park, they want to build a fourth shelter.
“Our park has far exceeded our expectations of use,” Daniels said. “People come from all over northern Stanly County to walk and use our facilities. Our current shelters are used every day, and on the weekend, you have to reserve one to be assured one will be available for you.”
He said they often have to turn people down when they call to reserve a shelter because none are available.
“An additional shelter would help to make sure we have one available when we need it,” he said.
The contractor New London wants to use just built a similar one at Gray Stone Day School. It will be post-and-beam construction on a concrete slab, estimated at $35,000 to $40,000.
One commissioner commented, “Every time I drive past this park, it’s packed out, and I’d just like to commend New London, because New London is an extremely well-managed town.”
Daniels stated New London spent $1.25 million on the park, which he said is “a lot of money,” but added they’re proud of what they’ve done.
Asciutto made a motion to approve the request, and Lawhon seconded it. The motion passed 7-0. Daniels thanked the board for the funding and said, “You’ll be proud of what we do with it.”
Lastly, Richfield commissioner of zoning Barry Byrd presented on their grant proposal.
“Richfield Park is used by the entire northern end of Stanly County, as well as Albemarle,” Byrd said. “The park was built in the ‘70s by donated volunteer labor. We have one park, not a dozen, so it’s a very small community, as I’m sure you’re aware.”
He said the park is in need of upgrades and restoration. And the project that the Town of Richfield has specifically in mind is adding more bleachers to the sports fields.
“North Stanly youth sports, when they have different ball tournaments and games, will take bleachers from one field to take to the other because there’s not enough bleachers,” Byrd said. “That causes people to put them on the back of their pickup truck or on a trailer. They tie them down and they bend them and warp them, and we’re trying to put a stop to that.”
They have quotes for 5 sets of four-row bleachers and some ground benches for tee-ball. They also plan on putting down concrete under each set of bleachers so they “can bolt them down so they cannot be moved, and they do not have to be mowed under or sprayed under to keep the grass down in the summertime.” They also have a quote for a new roof on the bathrooms and concession stands.
Byrd said the total cost of those items would be $23,367.86
After the three proposals were presented and approved, Asciutto said, “I just want to thank all the municipalities for putting in their grant requests.”
He noted that all the municipalities in the county, other than Norwood and Red Cross, have put in grant requests. Asciutto said those two towns need to get their proposals in by the end of the month if they want to benefit from the county’s parks grant money.
“I think it’s been a very successful program,” he added, thanking his fellow commissioners for helping guide the process for various towns and cities.