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North Carolina Park Grants Promote Accessibility Outdoors

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By: Christine Johansen, Written March 16, 2023

There’s no denying it — we’re living in an era when screen time consumes hours of people’s daily lives. Which is why investing in parks to make outdoor recreation more accessible is more crucial than ever. 

That’s exactly what North Carolina’s Parks and Recreation Department aims to do. On March 3, Governor Roy Cooper announced the approval of $9.6 million in grants for improving park accessibility. 

Also included is $10 million for the North Carolina Parks and Recreation Trust Fund to offer matching grants to local governments. These funds will go specifically towards park facilities for children and veterans living with disabilities. The aim is to support diversity in outdoor recreation. 

Awards were granted to 23 projects spread across North Carolina. Out of these, 12 applicants received the maximum grant allowance of $500,000. 

“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,” said Governor Cooper.

The table below lists the applicants (North Carolina cities and counties) and their project proposals, plus the grants awarded to each. 

Applicant Project Name Funds Granted Population Group
City or Durham C.R. Wood Park $500,000 50K+
City of Jacksonville Inspiration Field $500,000 50K+
Davidson County West Campus Community Park $500,000 50K+
Iredell County Jennings Park Inclusive Play $500,000 50K+
Davie County CanoPLAY Treescape $500,000 10K-50K
McDowell County Maple Leaf Inclusive Recreation $500,000 10K-50K
Bertie County TGOW Outdoor Ed and Events $500,000 10K-50K
Town of North Wilkesboro Smoot Park Improvements $500,000 2,500-10K
Town of Jamestown Universal Play at Jamestown Park $500,000 2,500-10K
Town of Elkin Crater Park $500,000 2,500-10K
Town of Holly Springs Sugg Farm Accessible Recreation $500,000 2,500-10K
Town of Fallston Fallston Town Park $500,000 <2,500
City of Wilmington Maides Park Inclusive Playground $470,044 50K+
Alamance County Cedarock Park Playground $450,000 50K+
Lee County OT Sloan Accessibility Project $400,000 50K+
City of Wilson All Children’s Splash Pad $400,000 10K-50K
Watauga County Howard Knob Park – Phase 1 $350,000 50K+
Town of Garner GRC Outdoor Accessible Play $323,520 10K-50K
City of Raleigh Caraleigh Park Improvements $300,000 50K+
Town of Arapahoe Arapahoe Community Park $274,960 <2,500
Town of Mills River Mills River Universal Playspace $251,288 2,500-10K
Town of Huntersville Abernathy Park $212,000 50K+
Town of Davidson Roosevelt Wilson Park Renovations $171,313 10K-50K

North Carolina Park Project Details

While each project’s purpose is to make the parks of North Carolina more accessible, each has its own plan for doing so. Listed are just a few of the projects, and examples of how they’ll use the grants to make park improvements. 

Bertie County: TGOW Outdoor Ed and Events

Funds for the Tall Glass of Water Project (TGOW) will be used to create better accessibility to hiking, camping, and the beach. For instance, they plan to install an ADA-accessible ramp, plus a walkway from the parking lot to the beach. In addition, newly-installed beach mats will offer better maneuverability.   

Town of Mills River: Mills River Universal Playspace

Using a baseball-themed design, Mills River Park will feature a new playground with ramp-accessible activities. There will also be a fitness area that caters to a broad range of adult and senior citizens. An accessible trail will border the park, and a picnic area will be built with focus on providing more accessibility and inclusivity to those with disabilities. 

Town of Elkin: Crater Park

Pickleball courts, baseball fields, and a boat launch will be carefully designed with those having limited mobility in mind. Crater Park will include sidewalks and paths to each for easier access. Also included in the plan is to build an accessible splash pad, playground, and restrooms.

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