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News County still holding out for PARTF grant for Parker Meadows purchase

Citizens of Macon County have been anxiously watching the situation concerning the Parker Meadows property slated to become a community sports complex.

An abundance of public outcry has been heard both in opposition and support for the purchase of the property on 64W that would serve local athletes with state-of-the-art recreational facilities.

After some extended discussion in April that resulted in two county commissioners, Ron Haven and Paul Higdon opposing the acquisition of the property, in a 3-2 vote the county chose to move forward with the purchase of the $550,000 parcel of land and has been awaiting the approval of the PARTF grant from the state that would reduce that amount by half.

PARTF — The Parks and Recreation Trust Fund — provides dollar-for-dollar matching grants to local governments for parks and recreational projects that serves the public.

Last Wednesday, Macon County Parks and Recreation Director Seth Adams attended a meeting in Raleigh concerning additional available funds for the first round of the PARTF grant dispensing.

“This was not the second draw for the grant proposals,” said Adams. “That will happen in late August or early September. This was for an additional $1.2 million in the first draw that they awarded. Our proposal was ranked number one in our district and number two in the state. Unfortunately, in this draw they did not pick ours, but I feel confident based on the fact that they did pick the number one ranked project. Now we're ranked number one for the second round of drawing.”

Following the conclusion of the budgeting process for the upcoming 2013-14 fiscal year, Adams expressed his gratitude and optimism for the future of the county's recreational program. “Our department is now headed in the right direction with the renovation of the pool and the purchase of the Parker Meadows property. Being able to do these things without a tax increase is incredible. All of the surrounding [counties] that I have spoken to are very jealous. We will soon take our place, once again, as the top recreation department in Western North Carolina.

The pool has been a huge hit this summer so far. We have been at or near capacity almost every day,” said Adams. “Last summer, if we made $300, we considered it a good day. This summer we are averaging between $1,700 and $2,000 a day. People are raving about the facility. They only wish we had done it years ago.”

According to an economic impact study conducted by Ecomomic Director Tommy Jenkins, the proposed recreation park at Parker Meadows would give the county a return of about $6 million each year.

The PARTF grant could has an uncertain future, but Charlie Peek, Public Information officer for the N.C. Division of Parks and Recreation says that Macon County has a very strong grant request in place.

"I can tell you that all three budgets that are being considered in the General Assembly have a different approach as to how to handle the PARTF trust fund," said Peek. "Macon County is certainly in the running for any additional funding that will be going out, it's just that with the budgeting process still happening, we can't exactly be certain of how things are going to play out."


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