Mint Hill moves forward on park grant

MINT HILL – Leaders in Mint Hill moved forward Thursday, Jan. 23, on applying for a grant that would allow the town to purchase and develop a new park on Brief Road.

The Mint Hill Board of Commissioners approved a contract Thursday that will see the town pay $670,000 to James and Helen Black for the roughly 27.5 acres of land at 9801 Brief Road – between Arlington Church Road and Caliterra Drive – assuming the town is able to obtain a 2014 North Carolina Parks and Recreation Trust Fund Grant. The deadline to apply for the grant is Friday, Jan. 31, so Mint Hill is moving quickly in order to secure the funding. Town leaders have said the grant would total about $335,000. The total amount the town could ask for in a grant is $500,000. If the grant goes to Mint Hill (a decision will be made in May or August), the town will have a few years to develop a
park. The town doesn’t have to purchase the property if the grant doesn’t come through.

“We’ve kind of been actively or semi-actively keeping an eye out for available parcels of land,” Brian Welch, Mint Hill town manager, said following the town’s approval to go under contract for the land. Lee Bailey, deputy town manager, said at Thursday’s meeting that the park is in line with many of the town’s planning documents and master plan for the near future.

And while there’s no solid plans for what would go in the park yet, residents have had some input on that already.

A handful of residents spoke in favor of seeking the park grant at a public forum last week, aligning with thoughts the town received nearly two years ago in a survey regarding use of Park on Wilgrove and Veterans Park (then Park on Fairview). In the survey, a majority of residents said they would like more park options as long as they didn’t see an increase in taxes associated with that.

Residents taking the early 2012 survey said they would like to see a dog park, room for yoga, special wellness classes, a lacrosse area and better connectivity between parks, among other things. The Brief Road park would be roughly 4 miles from Veterans Park, with Park on Wilgrove located between the two.

Also in the survey, 20 percent of residents said the town should consider raising property taxes to pay for the formation of a parks and recreation department to offer different parks services. The majority of people said the town should instead seek grants or business sponsorships to pay for such projects.

Costs of maintaining the park will be discussed at a later date, once the town has a clearer picture about the grant funds. While some towns have raised concerns about the impact new parks could have on police resources – most recently in Indian Trail, where the town is studying how many law enforcement officers it needs as it builds two new parks – Welch said he doesn’t see the potential Mint Hill addition being too much of a burden for the town’s police department. Other questions about the future of the park could be dealt with this summer.


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