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Flat Rock hopes for Round 2 funding for park

FLAT ROCK — Although the Flat Rock Village Council missed state funding in May to help pay for the purchase of the Highland Lake Golf Course for a park, the village still has a shot at the money.

The state board that determines Parks and Recreation Trust Fund grants awarded grants in May for parkland purchases and park improvements across the state. Flat Rock asked for $475,000 to help fund the purchase of the park, which the Village has agreed to buy for $1.15 million.
"What happens is the Parks and Recreation Trust Fund will have to wait and see how much income Parks and Recreation has in this last quarter of the fiscal year and also what state budget gets passed and we'll know," said Rebekah Robinson, the administrative director of the Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy. "With Flat Rock being ranked No. 3 on the wait list they're in a good position."
If each of the applicants asked for the maximum $500,000, the state would need $1.5 million in leftover money or 2013-14 funds to grant Flat Rock's request.
Robinson, who wrote the grant application, strongly endorses the new park.
"I think it'll be the first park owned by the village, which is a great milestone, and while there's some great parkland nearby there's not much that's flat and level," she said. "I think there are some great opportunities for habitat restoration if the Village wanted to pursue that later."
She mentioned natural homes for birds and other wildlife and plants.
"Flat Rock is kind of the hot spot for one of the rarest plants in the state, and it's likely that once a upon a time that plant had a habitat on that property," she said.

Called the bunched arrowhead, the plant grows on the edge of ponds and mountain bogs and is found in only a handful of counties in North and South Carolina. It's listed as endangered.
The Village has set a closing on the sale for June 27. An environmental assessment has been completed.
"The bottom line is that property is very clean," Mayor Bob Staton told the Village Council last week. "It is not affected in any way except between two fuel tanks."
Councilman Dave Bucher said an appraiser issued a positive report.
"They said, 'What a beautiful piece of property,' and the second thing was they felt like the people who had the golf course had been very good stewards," Bucher said.