BOGUE — Town officials’ goal of acquiring property for a park appears likely to come to fruition by the end of the year.
Rhonda Murray, community plans and liaison officer for Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, told councilmen Monday that the base has forwarded to the U.S. Department of Defense a proposal to fund the town’s purchase of about 4 acres across Highway 24 from Bogue Field.
She spoke during council’s monthly meeting in town hall off Chimney Branch Road.
Bogue Field is an auxiliary landing strip and training facility for the base in Havelock, and the military often makes money available to buy property in aircraft flight paths in order to preclude disasters should the land be developed.
“I think there’s a good chance this could happen within the next six months,” Ms. Murray said to councilmen, who had been unaware why she was there.
The discussion about establishing a park began in mid- to late-2017, when Tyler Harris, Ms. Murray’s predecessor at Cherry Point, told the council money might become available within six months. But little has been said since then, until Monday night.
Ms. Murray told the council that last fiscal year, much of the money for these kinds of projects went to the West Coast.
However, she added, there’s still money left in the defense department’s five-year budget for such projects, “and if we don’t spend it, we lose it.”
Tapping into defense money is the same method Emerald Isle used to get money from the federal government to aid in the purchase of 30 acres of land about two years ago for what is now McLean-Spell Park, a natural area along Archers Creek behind the police station and recreation center.
In that case, Emerald Isle received $1.5 million from the military for the $3 million purchase, added some town money and got more than $1 million in grants from the state Parks and Recreation Trust Fund and the state Clean Water Management Trust Fund.
The much smaller Bogue purchase would not cost nearly as much, although Ms. Murray said it is too early to say just how much money would be available.
Bogue Town Clerk Elizabeth Sweeney said during the meeting that there are significant chunks of wetlands on the property, but there’s also a significant chunk of good park land. It’s part of the old Humphrey Farm property, she said.
A surprised Mayor Ricky Taylor was very pleased.
“I think this will be great for the town,” he said after the meeting adjourned. “We’ve been talking about it for 15 to18 months, and I was just as surprised tonight as everybody else.”
Mayor Taylor said the council has kicked around a few ideas about what could go into a park on the property, but never got into specifics because the concept didn’t come to fruition when Mr. Harris said it might.
Whatever becomes of the land, if it’s in town hands the mayor said it would be a “great asset” to the residents of the small, mostly rural community just east of Cape Carteret.
The town could, like Emerald Isle, seek additional grants from the state. During a council meeting in April 2018, Justin Boner, director of real estate for the North Carolina office of The Conservation Fund, a national organization, said the group could offer help with applications.
He also said if the town acquires the land, any applications for state grants would “look stronger.”
In the case of the Emerald Isle property, the fund actually stepped in to buy the property and held it for the town until all of the funds came through.
The state’s PARTF program also makes money available for development of parks once land has been purchased.
Contact Brad Rich at 252-864-1532; email Brad@thenewstimes.com; or follow on Twitter @brichccnt.