Town foundation makes Black Mountain projects easier

Margaret Hurt
Special to The Black Mountain News

Several years ago, someone who chose to be anonymous donated $10,000 for a new playground in Black Mountain. Received by the Black Mountain Parks and Greenways foundation, the gift sparked the formation of a community playground committee.

Because the foundation was already in place, the town’s Recreation and Parks Department was able to pursue additional grants for the playground, as well as receive donations (and provide tax deductions). Grants the department received from Buncombe County and elsewhere, coupled with many gifts given in the memory of Black Mountain’s Elizabeth Harper, brought in nearly all the $40,000 needed to build the playground, said Casey Conner, recreation and parks director.

Now, the Elizabeth “Lib” Harper Playground at the Carver Center is enjoyed daily by community members and after-school groups.

Historically in Black Mountain, most recreational and wellness activities have been done by the town itself. But as state and federal funding has dwindled, groups of private residents banded together to seek money to continue the work. Six years ago, Black Mountain Parks and Greenways Inc., was created to support volunteer groups that enhance the town’s recreation offerings. It helps them by helping them raise and use money.

Two of the groups that benefit from its help are Black Mountain’s town square and beautification committees.

Recently, the town square committee directed $3,000 of its budget to the beautification committee to be used to maintain the landscaped beds at the square in the center of the town, said John DeWitt, the foundation’s board president. The beautification committee, which works to spruce up the town, will use the money to put down fresh mulch and put in new flowers and plants when needed.

The town square committee needed the foundation’s nonprofit status to receive the grants and contributions it has gotten. (An endowed investment account with the Community Foundation of Western North Carolina now provides for the square’s upkeep.)

The foundation provides similar help and opportunity to commission, boards and committees that oversee the town’s greenways, school gardens, as well as Lake Tomahawk, Black Mountain tennis association and swim team and the Dr. John Wilson community garden. Income and expenses for each group is handled through the foundation.

The foundation’s nonprofit status alleviates organizations from the paperwork and the administrative oversight. The foundation provides liability insurance for any event organizations put on that are town-related. Member organizations don’t have to pay sales tax on purchases. And they can use the foundation’s N.C. license to solicit funds.

The 10-person foundation board has sought to implement the master recreation and parks plan citizens helped develop in 2004, DeWitt said. The town’s plan puts priorities on greenways, community gardens, town beautification and playgrounds - all of which are seeing progress because of the volunteers who serve on committees and because of the support given them by the foundation, DeWitt said.

“The foundation has helped all groups that are involved with Black Mountain recreation and parks,” he said. By coordinating activities, reducing each groups’ administrative costs “and supporting the great work being done by town’s staff who work closely with the aldermen,” the foundation is helping the town “provide the best recreational and park services to our citizens,” he said.

If you’d like to support the foundation’s work, contribute to the general fund or a group-specific fund. (The general fund supports administrative costs and can be used at the board’s discretion; group-specific funds can be used for any of the groups mentioned in this article.) Make checks to Black Mountain Parks and Greenways, Inc (noting general/specific group name in memo line) and mail to it, Attn: Secretary, P.O. Box 253, Black Mountain, NC 28711.

Also, each group needs volunteers to assist with committee planning and special events. DeWitt can answer questions at or 357-8081.