Town seeks funding from state for Veterans Park

Parks and Recreation Trust Fund grant could help build pavilion and more at popular park

Fred McCormick

Black Mountain aldermen voted march 13 to seek funding for some of the improvements called for a master plan for newly renamed 27-acre Veterans Park.

Black Mountain Veterans Park could see a new pavilion and year-round restrooms if the town secures funding from the state.

The board's unanimous vote means that, for the second straight year, Black Mountain is seeking a Parks and Recreation Trust Fund grant from the state. The grant matches the contributions of municipalities dollar for dollar on projects related to recreation and parks.

“This (grant) would be for a pavilion, year-round bathrooms and a playground,” said town manager Matt Settlemyer. He said the town has once again asked an owner of property contiguous to the park to sell the land.

"The owner of that property has been open to selling in the past and then not open and now it appears he may be willing to sell the property again,” he said. Acquiring the property on the north side of Rec Park Drive would help the town in the grant process, Settlemyer said.

“If the owner is willing to sell it to us at a reduced rate under the appraised value, then the difference between to the purchase price and the appraised price would count toward our (dollar-for-dollar) match,” he said. “We get a value if we’re able to acquire that land for cheaper than what it appraises for.”

Getting that property, which could potentially be used for a trail system and additional parking, is not necessary to secure the grant, however.

Without the acquisition of the property, the town's contributions under the grant would be about $100,000 over the course of three years, according to Settlemyer.

The grants are awarded annually by a nine-member board appointed by the governor in conjunction with the General Assembly. A scoring system is used to evaluate the applications, while additional factors are considered as well.

The town applied for the grant last year but was not one of 30 state municipalities to receive a share of the $4.9 million. The last Buncombe County project to receive the Parks and Recreation Trust Fund grant was the Collier Cove Nature Preserve, which in 2013 was awarded more than $40,000. The town of Montreat was awarded over $115,000 for the Assembly Drive Greenway in 2012.

"We have a better opportunity this year," Settlemyer said, "if only because there's a limited pool of applicants and some of those were approved last year. You get a fresh slate every year, so we decided we would try for it again this year."

The timeline for the process is still a little unclear, he said. In years past, applications have been due in February. But this year the deadline is May.

"I don't quite know when we'll hear back," the town manager said. "It will probably be around late summer."