Joint project moves forward with Ed Tech Center park plans
Published 7:18 pm Wednesday, February 17, 2016
The Beaufort County Board of Education discussed its plan at Tuesday night’s meeting to request $145,000 from the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust for its multiphase, joint-use public park.
The park is a collaborative effort between the City of Washington and Beaufort County Schools, which owns the piece of land in question, according to Michele Oros, director of grants and development at Beaufort County Schools.
The 4.5 acres of land is adjacent to Beaufort County Ed Tech Center and across the street from Beebe Memorial Park. The city and the school district submitted an initial request last year and signed an agreement with each other for the park in June 2015.
After hearing feedback from residents, the two parties found that most people wanted to see a playground in the space, thus pushing the second phase of the project into motion, Oros said.
If the grant money is awarded, there are also plans for a shade shelter, an open area for playing sports and restroom facilities, she said.
“It was developed as a result of community conversations,” Oros said. “It was not an idea dreamed up by the school district or the city on their own.”
Beaufort County Schools is eligible for the grant money due to its position as one of six counties involved in the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust’s Healthy Places NC initiative, which strives to improve the health and well being of people in rural counties.
Rather than giving the money upfront, the Kate B. Reynolds Trust provides more funding with each step the school district and city takes, ensuring the commitment of all those involved.
“As we make our efforts, then they kind of counter with awards,” Oros said. “They want the assurance of the community involvement and ownership, shared ownership, of this project.”
When completed, the park will also complement Beebe Memorial Park across the street, and also provide restrooms, as they were not allowed at Beebe because of the gravesites.
“It would be our intention to have the playground built in a year,” Oros said. “The community conversation was that the group that had promoted the improvement of Beebe Memorial Park felt that it would be very beneficial for people who are having events at Beebe.”
Officials hope to hear whether Beaufort County Schools will receive the grant money by late spring, and after this phase, hope to continue the improvements. Oros said there have been conversations about a splash park.
“This is meant to be a community project. … We really are looking for great ideas,” she said. “This is meant to be a shared asset.”