The Parks and Recreation Authority has awarded $9.6 million in park accessibility grants for 21 projects across the state, Governor Roy Cooper announced Friday. The 2021 state budget included $10 million for the Parks and Recreation Trust Fund to provide matching grants to local governments for parks facilities for children and veterans living with disabilities. The awards were granted during a March 3 meeting of the authority.
“These projects touch communities from Watauga to Wake to Pamlico with lasting, accessible infrastructure for recreation that will bring improved health and quality of life for North Carolina families,” Governor Cooper said. “The focus of accessibility reflects our need for—and commitment to—investing in projects that reflect the needs and abilities of all of our residents and visitors.”
Department of Natural and Cultural Resources Secretary D. Reid Wilson expressed the department’s commitment to providing recreation amenities for people of all abilities.
“Because the Governor and General Assembly included historic funding levels in the budget for the Parks and Recreation Trust Fund, we are able to provide these grants to every corner of our state to improve accessibility in community recreation,” Secretary Wilson said. “These grants will produce significant progress toward providing recreation that meets each North Carolinian where they are.”
Grants of $500,000 were awarded to twelve towns and counties for projects including CanoPLAY Treescape in Davie County and outdoor education and event space in Bertie County. Bertie County’s outdoor education and event space project will offer open access to the water, hiking, and camping. Accessible components include an ADA-accessible ramp, beach mats for improved navigation onto the beach and an accessible walkway from the parking area to the beach.
The Town of Elkin’s proposed Crater Park just south of downtown Elkin on the Yadkin River will upfit baseball fields, pickle ball courts and a boat launch to make them accessible to those with limited mobility. The project includes new recreational amenities that will also be accessible.
Grants ranging from $171,313 to $470,000 were awarded to support 11 other local government projects. One such project, the Town of Garner’s outdoor accessible play area, will add inclusive outdoor amenities to the Garner Recreation Center, including a playground, fitness stations and climbing components.
The Parks and Recreation Trust Fund is administered through the N.C. Division of Parks and Recreation, which is part of the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources. The program schedule was announced in March 2022, and completed applications were due to the division by Nov. 1. Local governments, including some public authorities, were eligible to apply for the matching grants.