A proposed Havelock recreation facility at the end of Lewis Farm Road may be back on, if money from the state comes through.
Havelock has received notice that the N.C. Parks and Recreation Authority has approved a $500,000 Parks and Recreation Trust Fund Grant for development of a recreation area on a 47-acre tract that is being turned over to the city from the Coastal Land Trust.
Havelock’s bid had been denied earlier, but Dave Smith, director of Havelock Parks and Recreation, said more money than had been expected came in to the trust fund.
"It added a couple more million dollars, and they added some projects," Smith said. "There were five added and ours was one of those five."
He said a contract for the park could happen as early as October, if the money remains available. Smith said he is "cautiously happy" in the turn of events.
"It’s still dependent upon the funds coming in, but we’re still very happy that hopefully we can start building on a need for the recreation department, which is additional recreational fields for the children to play on," Smith said.
The proposed park is west of the city just before the Carolina Pines subdivision. Youth league officials cited the need for the park, saying children involved in sports such as soccer, football, lacrosse, softball and baseball simply didn’t have enough space at current parks for practices and games.
Residents along Lewis Farm Road argued the park and the vehicle traffic associated with it would disrupt their rural community and would hurt the businesses of horse stables in the area that rely on tranquility and nearby horse trails.
Purchase of the property for a park would also keep the property, which is located next to Cherry Point, from development that could encroach upon the base’s mission, according to the city.
Smith said the property is being leased to a farmer through December. If funding for the grant comes through, the city could start work on the fields as soon as January.
"I think the first thing you would see would be some grading of the property on the front nine acres of the property that would be developed," Smith said. "You’d see that area start to be laid out with proper drainage for a soccer field, area for a restroom, a gravel parking area and a playground. The first phase would be some leveling out."
Still, the park would not be ready for use right away.
"Even if we get the grant and we could go to work on it toward the end of the year, you’re still looking at about three years before we could have a grand opening for that facility," Smith said. "We would want the grass to be fully established and well laid out before we start activities out there."