North Brunswick Loves Its Parks: And a New One Is on Its Way
The Town of Leland recently received a big boost in its efforts to provide green space to residents and visitors when the North Carolina Parks and Recreation Trust Fund Authority (PARTF) awarded the town a $500,000 grant to develop its first major park.
Westgate Nature Park will be built on 150 acres on the south side of U.S. 17 behind the Westgate commercial and residential area. Westgate developer Nathan Sanders donated the land for the project, including wetlands on the north side of Jackey’s Creek, and the value of the land was used as the town’s match for the grant, resulting in no out-of-pocket costs.
The award will allow Leland to develop Phase I of Westgate Nature Park, which will include 0.3 miles of 10-foot-wide paved and elevated boardwalk trails for hiking and biking; an outdoor classroom overlooking the wetlands environment; two age-appropriate playgrounds; picnic areas; a multipurpose field; and parking, landscaping, utilities and the associated amenities.
Phase I development has already begun with site planning and surveys; groundbreaking on construction should be in late winter or early spring with Phase I being completed by fall 2011. Further phases call for expanding the walking trails to a total length of 4.9 miles and adding two more outdoor classrooms and other amenities.
“Westgate Nature Park will provide an opportunity for all of Leland’s citizens to get out and enjoy and observe our unique coastal wetland habitat,” says Leland Mayor Walter Futch. “This park is the first of its kind for Leland and will provide recreational and educational opportunities for our citizens for generations to come.”
Eighteen months ago, the Leland Town Council authorized the creation of a full-time Parks and Recreation Department, and the department has been busy ever since. Between managing the town’s existing park — Leland Community Park — the planning associated with the Leland Community Center, the summer concert series and the development of the grant for Westgate Nature Park, Niel Brooks, manager of Parks, Recreation and Environmental Education for the Town of Leland, and his staff haven’t had time to rest.
Their work on all phases of Leland’s parks and recreation offerings helped elevate the Westgate Nature Park project to the number-one overall priority project for PARTF funds, and Leland received the maximum allocation allowed under the program. This year, PARTF considered 85 grant applications from counties and municipalities across the state requesting a total of $24.4 million in assistance for park development and land acquisition. PARTF’s funding for the grant cycle was only $6.6 million and it was able to award 24 grants.
The fact that Leland was awarded such a significant grant shows a move in a new direction for the town. Through more work from the Parks and Recreation Department and their staff and volunteers, Leland’s offerings of green space and outdoor recreation and education can only increase. Westgate Nature Park will be the first park of its kind for Leland and will protect a valuable and beautiful area from the ever- expanding development around it. The grant application to PARTF read in part:
“The park is especially important to Leland since [Leland] has very few existing parks and no existing accessible nature park facilities. The site’s scenic cypress swamps, water lily pond, wooded wetlands, pine forests and bottomland hardwoods offer initial and future phases of Westgate Nature Park huge passive recreation and programming potential that cannot be replicated anywhere else in town.”
If you need to get out to a park before Westgate Nature Park opens in 2011, don’t worry, there are plenty of parks in northern Brunswick County.
Brunswick Nature Park
Located on River Road (N.C 133) about 10 miles south of Leland.
This brand-new park offers more than 900 acres of undeveloped wilderness to explore (there are no established trails, but you’re welcome to blaze your own), a kayak/canoe launch site and large picnic pavilion. Future phases of the park will include walking trails, biking trails, horse trails and viewing platforms at scenic overlooks. For more information, call (910 253-2670.
Brunswick River Park
580 River Road, Leland
Located directly across from Belville Elementary School, this 22-acre park offers a boat launch into the Brunswick River, overlooks of the river, three picnic shelters, two playgrounds, restroom facilities and plenty of room for fishing. For more information, call (910) 253-2670.
Ev-Henwood Nature Preserve
6132 Rock Creek Road Northeast, Leland
Take U.S. 17 South to Old Town Creek Road, turn right on Old Town Creek Road, then right on Town Creek Road, then left on Rock Creek Road. The preserve is on the left. This 174-acre nature preserve, owned by the University of North Carolina Wilmington, has several miles of walking trails with many overlooks and educational signage. Other features include a picnic area. For more information call (910) 962-3107.
1490 Village Road, Leland
Amenities include two baseball fields, a practice area, two batting cages and a concession stand with restrooms. There are also three picnic shelters (first-come, first-served), a playground and a community building. Shuffleboard, horseshoes and a walking trail round out the offerings here. For more information call (910) 332-4818.
800 Park Avenue, Navassa
This 5-acre park includes a baseball field, a basketball court, a tennis court, a picnic shelter, two playgrounds and a concession stand with restrooms. For more information, call (910) 253-2670.
Northwest District Park
1937 Andrew Jackson Highway NE, Leland
This 35-acre park features five baseball/softball fields, two basketball courts, four tennis courts, four picnic shelters, a playground and a concession stand with restrooms. There are 8 acres of open space perfect for a game of tag or warming up before a game. For more information, call (910) 253-2670.
Town Creek District Park
6420 Ocean Highway East, Winnabow
This 35-acre park has four baseball/softball fields, two tennis courts, one basketball court, shuffleboard and bocce ball areas, a concession stand with restrooms, two picnic shelters and a playground. A community center is available for public rental. For more information call (910) 253-2670.
Want to Know More?
For more information on Phase I and future plans for Westgate Nature Park, visit the Town of Leland Parks and Recreation Department’s website at: www.townofleland.com/Parksandrec_lelandParks.html. For more information on programming offerings, parks and volunteer opportunities in Leland, contact the Parks and Recreation Department at (910) 332-4818.