By Erin Smith
The Elizabethtown-White Lake Area Chamber of Commerce heard from Rod Fritz, Parks and Recreation Director for the Town of Elizabethtown, regarding the town’s parks and improvements that have been made to them.
Town Manager Eddie Madden introduced topics to the membership. “About 10 years ago we began work to improve the downtown and really focusing on lifestyles and getting people outdoors.”
Madden said the town performed a study and developed and bicycle and pedestrian plan. He said they studied what the town needed to do to make the parks more friendly and accessible to the public. Rod Fritz was hired as the Parks and Recreation Director and he has worked with town staff to improve the town’s parks system.
Fritz discussed improvements recently made to Tory Hole Park, work being performed at the Brown’s Creek Park at Lock and Dam No. 2, and the proposed park for the Greene’s lake located at the Elizabethtown Industrial Park.
“The quality of life in the community in which we live will be enhanced by the lifestyle we are able to live and the parks are a big of that,” said Fritz.
He said there are currently two projects taking place in the town’s parks due to grants from the North Carolina Parks and Recreation Trust Fund (PARTF). Fritz said the town has just completed Leinwand Park improvements, the development of the Lloyd Park at the Leinwand Park. He said that grant was in the amount of $215,000.
The town is also actively working on a project at Tory Hole Park. The PARTF grant amount for the Tory Hole Park project is $250,000. The improvement include a disc golf course, new playground equipment, the installation of a sidewalk and work to the parking area of the park. Improvements were also made to the amphitheater and the restroom facilities.
Fritz said the grant for the Tory Hole Park required matching funds for the grant. He said the town was able to use the land for its portion of the match.
He also said during the Pork and Beats Festival, the town held an inaugural Disc Golf tournament at Tory Hole Park. He said it was well attended. Four holes-in-one were made that day and the course record score of 18 was set.
Brown’s Landing Park at Lock and Dam No. 2 is currently closed to the public while the Army corps of Engineers works to repair a scour hole that developed a the foot of the dam. The hole was washed out during Hurricane Matthew and is the size of a football field. The park is expected to be closed through October or November. The repair will require 80,000 tons of material to repair
In 2015, the town entered into an agreement with the Corps of Engineers to run it as a community park. Once the Corps of Engineers completes the repairs to the dam, Fritz said there are plans to develop primitive camping facilities, and install a disc golf course.
Brown’s Bike Park and Nature Trail offers folks a place to ride mountain bikes and walk or jog. There many elevation changes on the trial. Cape Fear SORBA has assisted the town in maintaining and developing the trail.
They are several events which take place throughout the year at the park. There are two events planned for this year that are not affiliated with Cape Fear SORBA.
Fritz said there is a scholastic bike race to take place in March. “It is a middle school mountain bike championship race,” said Fritz.
There are 150 entries in the event thus far, said Fritz.
A second race is scheduled for EPIC races on June 9 and 10. Fritz said they are expected to have 75 to 100 people participate in that event.
The next is the development of Greene’s Lake Conservation Park at the Elizabethtown Industrial Park. Fritz said the town has submitted an application seeking PARTF funds for the development of park on this land.
It is proposed to have a trial that borders the entire property, a wild flower meadow, a nature based playground, to name a few improvements planned.
“There’s a lot of good things planned,” said Fritz.
Fritz said there is a master plan for all of the town’s parks that can be reviewed at any time at the town hall.
In other business, Chamber Executive Director Dawn Maynard announced Bladen County will once again host the Cycle NC bicycle riders. She encouraged businesses to consider welcome signs and other methods they can support the cyclists during their stay.