Two applications for state recreation funding submitted by towns in the western part of Wake County were met with mixed results.
The state’s Parks and Recreation Trust Fund recommended Fuquay-Varina receive a matching grant of $500,000, the maximum amount possible, toward improvements at Fleming Loop Park.
Morrisville, though, was denied an application for the same amount toward renovations of its aquatic and fitness center.
Fuquay-Varina’s contract is expected to be awarded this fall, pending a signature from the governor.
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The grant recipients were announced Aug. 25. Thirty-one of the 66 North Carolina municipalities that applied this year were chosen to receive grants in a process that scores applications based on factors including how much other funding is present, the total PARTF funds available, and how many people would benefit from a proposed project.
This year’s total pool of available money was higher than it had been recently – $7.8 million, compared to amounts between $4 million and $4.8 million in the last three years.
Morrisville has received five grants in the past, while this will be the third time Fuquay-Varina is awarded the funding.
Fuquay-Varina’s grant will cover about 20 percent of the $2.68 million in improvements to Fleming Loop Park scheduled for construction in the summer of 2017.
Those include seven fields, lights for the fields, a walking track, parking, picnic shelters and a new concession/restroom building. The park was home to the WRAL Freedom Balloon Fest in May and is expected to host the event again next year.
Jonathan Cox, Fuquay-Varina’s director of parks, recreation and cultural resources, attended the announcement Aug. 25 and said Fuquay-Varina’s application was the third highest scoring among those submitted this year.
Town leaders were in Raleigh Thursday in support of Fuquay-Varina’s application for an additional $500,000 from the Wake County Major Facilities Grant, whose funds are generated by the hotel/motel and prepared food and beverage tax.
Fuquay-Varina is also finalizing a partnership agreement with the Capital Area Soccer League that would generate an additional $500,000 toward the park’s development.
Stephanie Smith, Morrisville’s public information officer, said the town wasn’t told why its application was unsuccessful.
The town spent much of this spring discussing plans to renovate the Morrisville Aquatic and Fitness Center, the cost of which has increased substantially since the project was first proposed. Some council members have also questioned the need for large-scale renovations to the facility when the town’s development consultant has recommended an entirely new facility as part of Morrisville’s proposed town center.
Councilman Michael Schlink cautioned against applying for the grant in the first place because accepting grant money would obligate the town to operate the facility for the next 25 years.
Morrisville Mayor Mark Stohlman said Wednesday he wasn’t aware Morrisville’s grant hadn’t been awarded. But he said he expected it would come up in the council’s discussion of capital projects at its Sept. 6 meeting.
“We’ve been waiting for the PARTF grant to be awarded or not and then determine next steps,” Stohlman said. “But we intend to dig and find out if there was something in our control we could have done differently with the application.”
Gargan: 919-460-2604; @hgargan