Free Daily Headlines


Set your text size: A A A

County wins $500,000 grant for Athletics Center

An early Christmas present has given Henderson County a big boost in its effort to develop the new Athletics and Activity Center on South Grove Street.

Gov. Pat McCrory notified the county by letter that it had received a $500,000 matching grant to help pay for park improvements, which include field lighting and artificial turf. The news was a bit of a surprise since the county had missed out on the first round of state Parks and Recreation Trust Fund grants last spring and again in the fall (when the Village of Flat Rock received notice that it had won a $475,000 grant for its new park).
County Manager Steve Wyatt said he and county personnel kept working on the grant, staying in touch with the Parks and Recreation Division director in Raleigh and a regional parks coordinator and with state Sen. Tom Apodaca and Rep. Chuck McGrady.
"They liked this project because of all the multiple uses — it's indoor-outdoor, it's got activities for all age ranges," Wyatt said. "From the top down we had multiple advocates speaking in favor because of what we were trying to do out there."
Besides soccer and other outdoor sports in the ball field, the former Hendersonville Christian School property includes a classroom building and gym that the county plans to use for indoor recreation, classes, crafts and other activities to serve all ages from toddlers to older folks.
"The good news is we've established a really strong working relationship with them," he said of the Parks and Recreation leaders. The county plans to apply for the 2014 round of funding for use at the new Tuxedo Community Park on old Highway 25. Winning a grant this year does not necessarily diminish the county's prospects for that project.
"I asked that question of the director and what the director said was each application stands on its own," he said.
The county has been negotiating with G.E. to buy outdoor lights that made at the companies Lighting Solutions plant in East Flat Rock, which makes outdoor lighting that is sold around the world.
"We want to use G.E. products and (plant manager) Paul Morse has been extremely helpful there," he said.
The Board of Commissioners last month authorized spending $515,000 for artificial turf, lighting, a higher fence along South Grove and other improvements at the Athletic and Activities Center. The county bought the 9½-acre property for $910,000 last January. PARTF officials told Wyatt that Henderson County could use the purchase to match the $500,000 grant.