Elected officials, community members, and little leaguers gathered at the site of Macon County’s soon-to-be new recreational park at Parker Meadows Saturday morning for the official ground breaking. Despite a little rain, members of the community turned out to show support of the project.
“When I woke up to rain Saturday morning I thought to myself, 'Great, it will be me, a couple of commissioners, and the press,'” Macon County Recreation Director Seth Adams said. “I was amazed as the cars kept pulling in that morning at Parker Meadows. At one time I counted over 60 people who had come out to show their support in the rain. We had kids, young adults, and seniors out showing that this project means a lot to them. The support for this project is amazing. I can’t wait until we have the opening ceremony next year. I would like to thank all who came to the groundbreaking and everyone who has sent words of encouragement and support. It meant a lot to me and to the officials who attended.”
With shovels in the ground, county commissioners and members of the county’s recreation board officially broke ground to begin the development process. “We are wrapping up the planning phase now and are about to release the work out for bid,” explained Adams. “We hope to have all bids in by the middle of May and hope to start construction in early June. If all goes well, we could be playing ball and enjoying the rest of the park by mid-summer 2015.”
“Our Little League program in Franklin is one of the strongest programs in the state of North Carolina,” said Dan Hunter, Macon County Little League president. “While most programs are experiencing a decline in numbers, our program is consistently strong and has very good numbers. We have more than maintained the levels of the past years and most leagues have their teams at full capacity and we were very close to having to add teams this season. We have had great support from our community especially the many local businesses that have been very generous with their financial support.The one drawback is that our program has had to deal with the lack of places to play and practice. We have had to schedule games all day on Saturdays and had to have late starts on weeknights. Last season we hosted two district tournaments and were given several opportunities by Little League to host more, but we had to decline due to our lack of fields. The Parker Meadows complex should ease the lack of fields and allow for more games to be played simultaneously and eliminate the current scheduling issues.”
Lee Cloer, who coaches Little League and whose nineyear old son Caleb plays, is excited for the project to get started. "If you look up 'win-win situation' you would likely see this picture aligned with it,” said Cloer. “Number one: A great beginning to the future of our children of Macon County – a win; and two, an opportunity to invest in our local economy by the visitors it will bring – a win."
“Being a youth in Macon County I commend the commissioners, especially Kevin Corbin, Ronnie Beale, and Jim Tate for thinking of the future of Macon County and recognizing the need for the future of Macon County with the addition of the new ball field and park,” said 17-year old Macon County resident Matthew Sheffield. “I think this is a big step and improvement for the youth and I'm glad we have commissioners that are willing to recognize that and stand up for the youth of Macon County.”
Commission Chair Kevin Corbin spoke to those in attendance Saturday morning to inform them that a recent appraisal of the property revealed that the county purchased the land for less than what it was valued. At the time of purchase, Guy Duvall submitted the last appraisal, which valued the Parker Meadows property at $750,000.
Despite Duvall’s 2006 appraisal, the county was able to purchase the property at a cost of $550,000. To ensure Macon County received state funds, a new appraisal was conducted on the Parker Meadows property by Vinson Appraisals and as of March 13, the property was said to be worth $595,000. With the new appraisal price, the county was still able to purchase the property for $45,000 less than what it is said to be worth in today's market.
“With the recent decline in land values throughout the county, I was a little nervous having to get another appraisal,” said Adams. “I was very pleased when it came in at what it did. It meant that the county got a great deal on a perfect piece of property to be used for recreational purposes.”
County Manager Derek Roland and county staff are working to get the project under way. “From the county side, Lori Hall [county finance director], myself, and county staff are working diligently with the architect and engineer to ensure we have obtained all the information (permits, bid tabs, etc.) which will be required by the Local Government Commission [LGC] prior to their authorizing the borrowing of $1.8 million for this project. We hope to have this package submitted to the LGC by the first or second week in May so we can hopefully gain approval by the LGC at their June meeting.”