Polk awarded $375k PARTF grant

Published 10:40 pm Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Grant will be used for Little White Oak Mtn. purchase for trails

COLUMBUS – Polk County could soon acquire 300 acres on Little White Oak Mountain for its recreation department to establish trails after receiving a $375,000 grant.


The Polk County Board of Commissioners met Monday, Sept. 18 and heard from commissioner Tommy Melton who made the announcement.


The county applied for a N.C. Parks and Recreation Trust Fund (PARTF) Grant earlier this year in order to purchase the 300 acres of land adjacent to the county’s recreation park and middle school in Mill Spring.


Polk County Recreation Director Jerry Stensland has told commissioners that the grant will pay for the purchase of the acreage and will essentially cost the county no money. The PARTF grant is a 50/50 match, but Stensland says the match will come from a discounted sales price of the property. The match amounts to over $700,000 in discounts on the property purchase compared to its market value.


Additional grants will be sought to construct the trails. Stensland says he envisions picnic tables on the property as well.


Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy (CMLC), which recently merged with the Pacolet Area Conservancy (PAC) to form Conserving Carolina, purchased the former Foster Creek Preserve, which was a planned housing development that fell through years ago, located off Hwy. 108 and Houston Road in Columbus.


CMLC purchased the proposed development, which is over 1,000 acres. From the beginning of the purchase, CMLC has said it planned for the county to acquire 300 acres for recreation trails. CMLC and PAC held public hearings and met with commissioners and the Town of Columbus about its plans and sought input from the community about what they wanted to see on the county’s proposed 300 acres.


Other plans for the project include approximately 30 acres developed by workforce housing, which is a program for working families to help build their own homes to make them more affordable. Some of the property could also be used as state game lands with better access, since the property borders existing game lands.

Polk County plans to make the purchase of the property at the first of 2018. Once constructed, the trails will be maintained by volunteers under the direction of the county’s AmeriCorps trails coordinator.


Following is the letter N.C. Governor Roy Cooper sent to Polk County Chairman Tommy Melton announcing the award of the grant:


Chairman Melton:

Thank you for your efforts to make Polk County as well as North Carolina a better place to live. Parks and recreation provide many benefits for our citizens, including better health, cleaner air and water and more opportunities for families and communities to spend time together.

I am pleased to tell you that the North Carolina Parks and Recreation Authority has approved a matching grant in the amount of $375,000 from the Parks and Recreation Trust Fund for the Little White Oak Mountain project. Mr. Neal Lewis, Chairman of the Parks and Recreation Authority, will contact you with his congratulations as well as information about how to begin the project.

We look forward to assisting you in meeting the park and recreation needs in your community.