Leland's Parks & Paths Growing
As Leland grows, creating and preserving open and green spaces, recreation and connectivity is becoming more and more important. The Town is working to improve existing parks, add parks spaces, and provide walkers and bilkers a safe and easy way to access all areas of the community, and last month, took a couple more steps in that direction.
After years of effort to develop a safe route for students to walk and bike to school, the Town of Leland has officially opened the Old Fayetteville Road Multi-Use Path.
The nearly one-mile paved multi-use path, separated from traffic, is open to pedestrians, bicyclists, and wheelchairs. It runs along the north side of Old Fayetteville Road from Leland’s Founders Park to North Brunswick High School.
“It’s critical that we provide places for people to exercise and ways for our children to get back and forth to school safely, especially with Leland being one of the fastest growing communities in North Carolina,” Mayor Brenda Bozeman said. “These paths will benefit Leland families and their children for generations to come.”
Eighty percent of the $2.6 million project cost was funded by the Federal Highway Administration, with a 20 percent match coming from the Town. The project also included repaving a one-mile stretch of Old Fayetteville Road. The project was a collaboration between the Town of Leland, NC Department of Transportation, and the Wilmington Urban Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (WMPO).
This path will be an important link to other recreational facilities and trails planned for Leland, including Founders Park, which is scheduled to be renovated, the new Sturgeon Creek Park, and other regional trails such as the proposed North Carolina Gullah Geechee Greenway/Blueway Heritage Trail linking Navassa, Leland, and Belville to Southport and the North Carolina portion of the 3,000-mile East Coast Greenway, which extends from Maine to Florida.
And speaking of improving Founders Park, the Town of Leland has announced that the NC Parks and Recreation Authority has approved $489,000 in grant funding for Founders Park renovations.
The NC Parks and Recreation Trust Fund (PARTF) grant will go towards Founders Park Phase I, which includes an inclusive playground, splash pad, picnic shelters, fitness stations, amphitheater, natural play area, walking trail renovations, veterans memorial, additional parking, restrooms, and associated site furnishings. The master plan was most recently updated in January 2021 and can be viewed on the Town of Leland website.
Founders Park, located at 113 Town Hall Drive, serves as the flagship facility for a myriad of events and programs throughout the year. It is nearly eight acres and currently includes a playground, gazebo, stage, picnic tables, benches, open green spaces, and a 0.6-mile paved multi-use path.
The Town continues to work through site design of the park and will soon be shifting focus to architectural design of park structures, including the amphitheater, splash pad, playground, and restroom facilities. Construction is expected to start in 2022.
“It’s tremendous news to hear we have been awarded a Parks and Recreation Trust Fund grant. There have been many years of hard work going on behind the scenes planning for Founders Park. It’s that work that lead to us having a competitive application and is ultimately what allowed us to be awarded the grant,” said Wyatt Richardson, Operation Services Director for the Town of Leland.
“During the past year, we saw an exponential increase in the use of our parks. Now people looking for ways to remain physically active and connect with nature and each other will have a newly renovated facility to do just that. I hope the community will take a moment with us to celebrate this milestone,” Richardson said.
The PARTF grant is a matching grant that requires the Town to contribute 50 percent of the total cost of the project.