After showing interest in 28 acres near a middle school, Archer Lodge leaders are mulling additional locations for a future park.
The town, which is seeking a state grant to help pay for the land, has been eyeing property near Archer Lodge Middle School and one other undisclosed site for months. But as its plans have become more public, new options have surfaced, said Mayor Mike Gordon.
“It seems that once people around you find out you are looking for space for a park or looking to buy something, all of the sudden you find two or three other folks in the community that also have land for sale,” Gordon said.
“Naturally it’s worth going and looking at it,” he said. “When you are spending taxpayer dollars, you want to make sure you are getting the biggest bang for your buck and the biggest property.”
During the Town Council’s regular meeting on Monday, Archer Lodge leaders did not act after discussing a “land acquisition” matter in closed session. Gordon said negotiations with landowners are ongoing.
While rooted in agriculture, the town’s growing population of younger families has asked for more recreation space in surveys and during public meetings. The Archer Lodge Community Center, an independent nonprofit, currently handles the town’s park programs, but is strapped for space on the 4.5 acres it owns on Buffalo Road.
The town voted on Monday to appoint the community center’s board of directors as the town’s temporary parks and recreation advisory board. The advisory board will provide ideas and feedback to town leaders and also win Archer Lodge points in the competitive application process for a N.C. Parks and Recreation Trust Fund grant.
The state fund awards dollar-for-dollar matching grants to local governments planning park projects across North Carolina. The Partnership to Build a Miracle, a Smithfield-based group planning an inclusion park on Booker Dairy Road, received $350,000 from the trust fund this year.
Archer Lodge is also creating a recreation master plan to increase its chances of getting a grant.
Gordon has said the town would hope to buy the land next to the middle school for about $495,000, with the trust fund grant paying half the cost. The town has not released details about the other potential park locations.
C.L. Gobble, a former town manager and Archer Lodge’s administrative consultant, said the town has until Feb. 2 to apply for the grant.
Archer Lodge is encouraging residents to attend a public meeting on the future of its parks at 7 p.m. on Dec. 2. Comments from the meeting will be used in helping develop the town’s recreation master plan and also the grant application.