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uncombe County wins funds for park south of Asheville



6/7/2011 - Buncombe County wins funds for park south of Asheville
by Mark Barrett

GREAT news for South Asheville!  A new county park; green space that a lot of neighborhoods can enjoy!!


                              SKYLAND -- Buncombe County has won state funding to help buy 30 mostly wooded acres for a park in an area otherwise blanketed by subdivisions.

A $285,500 grant from the state Parks and Recreation Trust Fund will pay for the land northwest of the St. Andrews section of Brookwood subdivision, a move a county official has said would be crucial to the project's success.

That will allow the county to move ahead with plans to buy the property from Robert and RaeAnn Collier, said Fran Thigpen, head of the county Parks, Greenways and Recreation Services Department.

But it will take longer to develop, fund and implement plans to make the property accessible, she said. Thigpen said it is too early to set a timetable for the park opening and said she envisions getting more community views on possible facilities.

"Now we've got a lot of work to do," she said.

The Colliers have offered to sell the property to the county for $300,000, well below its appraised value of $561,000.

County government will cover some of the costs, but county parks planner Lucy Crown said late last year that the project probably would not move forward without the state grant.

The county Board of Commissioners in January approved a proposal to make the Collier property a county park. Much of the tract east of Sweeten Creek Road and west of Mills Gap Road is steep, and planners envision it primarily as a place for hiking and similar activities.

The Buncombe County grant is among 26 totaling $7.6 million given to local governments statewide. The money comes from a portion of the state excise tax on land transfers.

At least some fund proceeds for the fiscal year that begins July 1 are likely to be shifted to other purposes because of the state's budget difficulties, said Charlie Peek, a spokesman for the N.C. Division of Parks and Recreation. "This grant seems to be safe, and we'll be cutting those checks as soon as we can," he said.

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