More than two years after voting to purchase Parker Meadows, Macon County Recreation Director Seth Adams informed commissioners Tuesday night that the county has been approved for a $500,000 grant to begin construction of a new recreation facility on the Parker Meadows property.
North Carolina had $45 million to disburse in PARTF (Parks and Recreation Trust Fund) funds, which provide a dollar-for-dollar matching grant to local governments for parks and recreational projects to serve the public. Out of the 80 projects that applied for funding, 48 projects were left unfunded this cycle. Macon County's Parker Meadows project was one of seven significant projects to be funded throughout the state and was identified early on as being first in line for funds.
“By the state fully funding Macon County the $500,000, it was an affirmation of what a great project this is,” said commission chairman Kevin Corbin. “These grants are very competitive and there were over 80 projects under consideration. The location, what we have planned, and the future economic impact of the project all helped us to get the funding from the state.”
Commissioners directed Adams to work with Macon County Planner Matt Mason to develop a plan of action to begin the construction process this spring.
“We will have, hopefully by the next commissioners' meeting, some cost estimates on various parts of the project up to doing it all at one time,” said Adams. “It will be up to the board to decide how much we can do now. The PARTF grant calls for two softball/baseball fields, 60-car parking lot, soccer field, walking track, restoration to the clubhouse, playground and pavilion. That is all we have to build to get the grant money.”
With PARTF funds being a dollar-fordollar matching grant, Macon County is responsible for spending $500,000 of local monies toward the projects, which the county has already done in buying the Parker Meadows property.
When discussion from the board first began on the possibility of purchasing the property, Macon County Economic Director Tommy Jenkins gave a presentation to the board citing the potential for $6 million a year to be generated for the local economy due to the development of the recreation facility.
In November 2012, when commissioners originally voted to purchase Parker Meadows with the intent of constructing a recreational facility, Jenkins informed commissioners that a 24-team ball tournament averaging 25 players per team would bring 600 people into Macon County. On average for lodging, meals, fuel and other necessities, each person would spend, on the conservative side, $125. For a two day tournament, that would generate $150,000 and with a rollover multiplier (the number of times one dollar would be returned to the community) of 1.73, a 24-team tournament would mean $259,500 for the local economy. That quarter of a million dollars in one weekend does not include the revenue that would be generated for the rec park in tournament entry fees and concession sales. A 48-team tournament would have an economic impact of more than a half a million dollars, all in one weekend for businesses in Macon County. According to Jenkins' economic impact study, with one adult and one youth tournament a year, there would be a minimum of $4.7 million and a maximum of $9.3 million generated for local businesses in one year.
With the goal of working toward completing the first Phase of the project as soon as possible, Adams noted that other items will be needed in the near future. “There are other things that will be needed such as additional road work, bathroom and concession facilities, lighting and sewer that will need to be done in Phase 1,” said Adams. “We will just have to decide how big Phase 1 will be. Hopefully that will happen at the next board meeting when we come back with some cost estimates. I hope to start construction early this coming spring and hopefully have the new park open Spring 2015.”