3/2/2014 1:36:00 AM Rescue Park Shows Growth Of East Lincoln Area County Commissioners may decide Monday to proceed with construction
David and Jo Clark, Dr. Wissam Nadra and Joe Lampron
David & Jo Clark, Dr. Wissam Nadra, Joe Lampron, Todd Wulfhorst, Bob Hecht, Dave Machado, Tim Holder...all of these and more important persons in the East Lincoln area have spoken out in favor of proceeding with the park as planned.
Wayne Howard Reporter
I was talking recently with a former Lincoln County Deputy Sheriff. We reminisced about the time forty years ago when the East Lincoln area was just beginning to be developed. The former deputy recalled having to drive all the way back to Lincolnton at night to fill up his car with gas or get something to eat. There were a few businesses up and down NC16, but only a few. How things have changed!
Now the eastern end of Lincoln County, the area up and down NC16 and along the shores of Lake Norman, is the fastest growing area of the county. Industry has moved into the area only in recent years and more is on its way. Retail businesses have opened by the dozens to meet the needs of the huge influx of new residents. What was once largely farmland and vacant property is now a thriving metropolis that is officially classified as urban. From a small high school in Denver a half century ago, the eastern part of the county now has two high schools. What was once a rural territory is more and more becoming a community that may soon rival Huntersville or Mooresville on the other side of the lake. East Lincoln has grown up.
Those who moved into the East Lincoln area weren't looking for a rural setting. They surely recognized that the area was already growing and would continue to develop. They may not have wanted to become a part of Charlotte, but they also didn't want to do without the amenities that come with development. They wanted restaurants, they wanted stores, they wanted a water and sewer system. They also wanted parks.
When the East Lincoln Rescue Squad gave its land to the Denver/Lake Norman Rotary Club, it was with the intent that the property would be used for a park. The club asked the County to help develop a facility. The club, the County, and others have been working toward that goal for several years. Monday night, the Commissioners will have the opportunity to move ahead with the project.
The Lincoln Herald asked for comments from our readers about the park. When Commissioners put off a decision on approving bids for construction at their February 17th meeting, some were disappointed. The bids had come in higher than expected, but with the economy in the process of rebounding from the recession, East Lincoln residents felt that it was time to go ahead with the park as planned.
Among those who responded to our query was Todd Wulfhorst, an attorney who lives in Denver. Wulfhorst is no newcomer. He's been involved in a law practice in Denver for over twenty years. He is Chairman of the Lake Norman Marine Commission and a member of the Board of Directors of the Piedmont Council BSA. He serves as the attorney for the Lincolnton-Lincoln County Airport Authority. He told us:
Thanks for taking the time to write an article on the Park.
On October 19, 2000, Lincoln County purchased the property for $625,000 to build a new elementary school. Around the same time the county bought property for North Lincoln High School. Neither purchase appeared to have any site studies conducted prior to purchase and the High School encountered several hundreds of thousands dollars worth of site prep as well as approximately a million dollar bridge to get to the fields on the other side of the creek. This property had/has severe topographical issues and St. James Elementary school was built approximately one mile directly west of this site in 2002.
In 2007, the East Lincoln Rescue Squad was informed that effective July 1, 2008, their Charter would not be renewed and effectively the Squad was shut down. The Rescue Squad board spent several months considering how to dispose of their assets and ultimately decided that a Park on the former school site in conjunction with the Denver/Lake Norman Rotary Club and Lincoln County would be the best utilization of the funds and other assets raised in the community for the Rescue Squad over the years.
East Lincoln has a thriving soccer program, lacrosse program and football program. Currently, the only public field available in East Lincoln is located at the Optimist Park. The lacrosse program utilized this field. The football program utilizes this field as well as a large open space near Walmart and the soccer programs utilize three separate Church fields.
Denver Days is currently held on private property. This annual community festival will have a home at the Park.
The Farmer's Market is currently held in a parking lot at Rock Springs Elementary. Lincoln County offered to build the Farmer's Market at the new park as part of the lease signed in 2008.
The proposed amphitheater in the next phase should be large enough for an event like the Backyard Players as well as other plays and concerts.
The Rotary Club has worked for over five years to raise money, apply and receive a PARTF grant to assist in building the park. Hopefully, the County will allow the Park to move forward and find the value in a million and half dollar park in exchange for a four hundred thousand dollar investment.
David Clark, Jr. certainly needs no introduction to long-time residents of Lincoln County. His father was a major founding figure in much of the county's growth in the 20th Century and David has continued to be a major figure in business and social circles. He and wife Jo turned the tragic loss of their daughter, Sally and her cousin, killed in a traffic accident by a drunk driver, into a lasting memorial for the people of East Lincoln. They were the primary contributors who got the ball rolling for Sally's Y, giving East Lincoln a much-needed YMCA. David says he, too, hopes the Commissioners will approve the bids and proceed with building the park:
Given the park's location near the center of eastern Lincoln County and the proposed amenities it will feature, I am confident it will be extremely popular with area families. Additionally, with the planned connecting trail from the park to the Sally's Y section of Carolina Thread Trail, the opportunity for people to walk, jog, and bike between the two to enjoy what each has to offer will also prove to be immensely popular and distinguish it from other parks in our region.
I would hope the Board of Commissioners will choose to approve the construction of the park and work to find the needed funds to complete the entire vision that so many county residents have worked tirelessly to bring to our area.
Jo Foreman Clark added:
I have also met with both Andie Taylor and Tim Holder about the park, realizing its many benefits to the community. I hope the Commissioners will proceed with the park as planned. This community has worked collectively to see it through to fruition.
Dr. Wissam Nadra of Lakeshore Pediatric told us:
As the local Pediatrician in Denver, the park will be a breath of fresh air for our children and youth, an outlet for them to be healthy and active. I'm hoping that we'll hear good news from the County Commissioners.
Joe Lampron is a member and past president of the Denver/Lake Norman Rotary Club. He currently chairs the Denver Days Committee. Joe told us:
As Chairman of the current Denver Days Committee, I hope that the County will continue to support our efforts to make Rescue Squad Park a reality. The combined efforts of all of those involved with Denver Days have been working for 11 years to achieve this goal. This will be a benefit not only to the residents of East Lincoln but to the entire county as it adds to the quality of life and to the attributes that make Lincoln County attractive to new families and businesses. Also, this combined effort of private and public funding will provide a great example for future projects in the county. My wife and I have lived in Denver for 24 years now and it would have been great to have had a park like this nearby as our children grew up.
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