Wendell is eying 36 acres to the south of Wendell Park for a park expansion.
The town has completed a grant application for $285,800 to the Clean Water Management Trust Fund for the land, and with a matching grant from Wake County Open Space Bond Funds, Town Manager Teresa Piner said she expects acquisition of the land to cost the town only $20,000 to $30,000.
The total cost of the project is estimated at over $900,000, including acquisition of the land, which adjoins the park. The land is on the market, according to the grant application.
The new land would extend to Wendell Falls Parkway and would tie in to the Buffalo Creek greenway, and through greenways already in place or planned which could connect as far as the Mountains to Sea Trail, Piner said, which passes about five miles west of Wendell and crisscrosses the entire state.
The land protects streams and wetlands, including a pond on the property, but not drinking water.
Because of the nature of the grant, plans for the land include only “passive” uses such as hiking, running and bike trails and expansion of disc golf. No bathrooms or ballfield construction would be allowed because of restrictions to protect wetlands.
“It mainly will be an extension of what we have,” Piner said.
The tract would be incorporated into the existing Hugh T. Moody Nature Trail, including three possible pedestrian stream crossings, a plan that’s already in its beginning stages. The trail currently runs 2 miles and would be extended 1.5 miles on the new property.
The trail would allow opportunities for bird watching and encounters with other wildlife including animals and plants.
The town also plans to build a 60-foot, two-lane park access road with drainage ditches.
A major electric utility easement is planned along the lower third of the tract and a gravity sewer easement is planned east of Buffalo Creek.
The town intends to use the land as part of its Track-Out Camp for grades kindergarten to fifth grade, its Camp Choices for ages 9-12, and guided tours by the Wendell Tree Board.
The property is appraised at a value of $15,000 per acre, according to the grant application.
“It would be a nice addition,” said Wendell Parks and Recreation Director Jeff Polaski.
The park is also installing $133,000 worth of new playground equipment, funded, in part, by a grant from Bliss Playground Equipment as well as money from the recently approved Parks and Recreation Trust Fund program. And expansion of horseshoe, bocce ball and shuffleboard options are under way, as well as lighting and irrigation of the soccer field.