Spencer gets $900,000 state grant for park project

Published 12:01 am Friday, June 17, 2022

SPENCER— Spencer has received an installment of money for its recent park project that dwarfs its other recent contributions.

A $900,000 grant passed down by the state from federal relief money will give the town a total of $1 million in contributions toward making a new downtown park a reality. The town previously received $100,000 from Fred and Alice Stanback to fund planning work for the project.

“It’s exciting, it’s overwhelming in a way, a good way,” Town Manager Peter Franzese said. “You feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude.”

The base cost estimate for the project is just below $1.2 million, which would pay for constructing the basic park with a pavilion and bathrooms. The estimate also includes $1.1 million in alternates the town could pursue to upgrade the park if it finds the money.

Now it is waiting to see if it will be awarded up to $500,000 from the state’s Park and Recreation Trust Fund grant program. Town staff submitted applications for both the relief grant and the trust fund grant on May 2, but Franzese said they are expecting news on the latter this fall.

The alternate upgrades include a long list of improvements to storm drainage, landscaping, lighting, more bathrooms, pavilion upgrades, furnishing and a water feature.

Franzese said exactly what those features would look like are details the town will have to work out with its architect Benesch.

The park will be built on the corner of Park Plaza in front of Spencer’s new town hall.

Spencer Mayor Jonathan Williams credited Stanback for helping kickstart the project.

“Our theme this year is ‘this is our moment,’ and he is truly helping us rise to the occasion,”  Williams said in a statement.  “We sincerely appreciate his support, along with this tremendous investment of the Rural Transformation Grant Fund, and all those near and far who are supporting our efforts to build a model small town community.”

The town is one of 15 grantees to get a rural grant from American Rescue Plan money and one of 30 to get a grant for other programs paid for with relief money. Salisbury was also on the list for the community enhancements grant category, taking in $875,000.

Spencer has collected a litany of grants and private donations for its park projects recently. Most recently it was awarded $100,000 in the form of a trail grant for its upcoming Yadkin River trail head project.

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About Carl Blankenship

Carl Blankenship has covered education for the Post since December 2019. Before coming to Salisbury he was a staff writer for The Avery Journal-Times in Newland and graduated from Appalachian State University in 2017, where he was editor of The Appalachian.

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