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Mills River to seek grant for ballfields, parking

MILLS RIVER — Mills River will apply for a grant from the state Parks and Recreation Trust Fund to help pay for the next phase of Town Park improvements.


Parks and Recreation Coordinator Pat Christie said the state Division of Parks would review the application in May. Applications are granted on an "all or nothing" basis, she said.
Council members asked about the town's chance of getting the money.
"The best estimate they have for the available money at this time is $3 million for the entire state – for all 100 counties (and) for every municipality," explained Christie. "The fund has been cut back severely."
Henderson County and its towns have had success getting PARTF grants in the past three years. Mills River received a $499,323 grant in 2010, and the Village of Flat Rock and Henderson County got grants of $475,000 and $500,000 respectively last year for parks.
During the second phase of park development, the Mills River Town Board plans the construction of three baseball fields and the new parking lot. The park now includes a playground, tennis courts, a picnic shelter, walking trails and a dog park. The third and final phase of development, according to plans, includes more ballfields, a multi-use field, another playground, soccer fields, fishing piers and a boat launch.
Mills River will apply for a grant in the range of $350,000, Town Manager Jaime Laughter said, to help cover the cost of the ballfields and a parking lot with 160 spaces.
During a hearing on the future improvements, Mills River residents praised the park.
"I'm elated at the possibilities," said Jim Foster. "It is a shining asset of the town." Parks Committee Chair Mary Carson voiced similar sentiments saying she was "thrilled" with the development so far but stressed the significance of the "much needed second phase."
Susan Adell, president of the Mills River Business Association and owner of Clean Streak Inc., said her staff polled members of the association and found that 45 of 89 members strongly supported new facilities for local residents.
"I think if we build it they will come," she said. "There are so many wonderful children here who need the ball park. We host an Easter egg hunt and many events through the year with the Lion's Club. So we all are very excited to help you and will do anything with the association we can to help."
Jollene J. Austin, president of the Mills River Recreation Foundation, said the park would be a boon to the town and its businesses.
"For the public record I would like to say we have spent countless hours planning, speaking to folks in the community, gathering our thoughts as to use and size of the park," she said. "However, we do need the ball fields. We have Little League teams practicing outside our own community. From the standpoint of a business owner I think we're only building infrastructure of our town, improving our town and attracting new businesses. It can only help us in that manner. Let's hope we are successful in our grant application."
Flavor 1st, a Mills River farming and food company, has pledged to match citizen donations for the park. "We have asked for donations and sent a form out," said Lois Pryor, who retired from the Town Council last month. "For every dollar donated they will give us a match up to $100,000, and we are about halfway there."

The Mills River Recreation Foundation is also raising money by selling memory trees and memory benches. The trees will have a weatherproof plaque at their base with the name of the person in whose memory the tree has been planted and the benches will have a similar plaque on the top front. These can be purchased for $175 and $795, respectfully. The funds from these sales will not be matched by Flavor First.
Mills River residents can still send written support to be included in the grant application by contacting Pat Christie through www.millsriver.org.

The Town Council held a special public meeting at 6:45 Thursday evening as part of the process for putting the application together. The application must be submitted to the trust fund by January 31.