Polk plans to apply for N.C. PARTF grant to acquire 300 acres for trails

Published 10:00 pm Wednesday, April 5, 2017

MILL SPRING – The Polk County Recreation Department has requested Polk County apply for a $350,00 grant from the N.C. Parks and Recreation Trust Fund (PARTF) in order to acquire 300 acres adjacent to the county recreation park in Mill Spring for hiking and biking trails.

The Polk County Board of Commissioners met Monday, April 3 and approved scheduling a public hearing to apply for the grant for its next meeting on Tuesday, April 25 at 7 p.m.

The recreation department is attempting to acquire the 300 acres from the Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy (CMLC), which recently purchased the former Foster Creek Preserve, a planned housing development that fell through a few years ago.

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Commissioners met with recreation director Jerry Stensland Monday, who said the PARTF grant money, if the county is successful, will be to purchase the property from CMLC at a reduced price. Stensland also said no local tax money will be needed for either the match of the grant or the development of the trails. Stensland said other grants are being sought for the construction of the trails and the match to the PARTF grant is coming from a discounted per-acre sale price of the property and private donors.

Stensland the consensus from a recent public meeting regarding the development of the former Foster Creek Preserve on Little White Oak Mountain was that hiking and biking trails are desired on the property. Stensland also said the main entrance to the trails will be from the county recreation complex in Mill Spring (adjacent to Polk County Middle School), which will be convenient because parking and restrooms are already there.

The PARTF grant is due May 1
with the state revealing if the county was approved this fall. Stensland said if approved, the county could purchase the property after the first of next year and in the meantime will look for other grants to develop the trails.

Once constructed, the trails will be maintained by volunteers under the direction of the county’s Ameri-
Corps trails coordinator.

The county’s potential addition of 300 acres borders the existing recreation complex as well as the existing and proposed Green River Game Lands.

Other parts of the CMLC’s project include approximately 30 acres being developed by workforce housing, which will also border the county’s potential additional property.

The county recreation park was partially funded by a PARTF grant and Harmon Field in Tryon has also received a PARTF grant in the past.