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Wrightsville Beach
Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Parks and rec manages new projects, programs

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State parks and recreation grants have helped fund big Wrightsville Beach projects like the events stage and a new basketball court in Wrightsville Beach Park, and now the town is compiling a new list of projects for which it will seek another grant.

The deadline for the N.C. Parks and Recreation Trust Fund Grants is May 2. Grants require an equal match from the town. The public will have the opportunity to provide input on all projects being considered during an open house, which is tentatively scheduled for April 18.

The Wrightsville Beach Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee has narrowed down a list of potential projects, which includes lighting on the tennis courts, lighting on the pedestrian paths behind the tennis courts, a new fence around the softball field, fitness equipment around the John Nesbitt Loop and a multi-use trail along the park’s northeastern perimeter.

Town staff has already created a rough rendering for the multi-use trail, and during its March 10 meeting the board of aldermen will vote whether to hire landscape architect Scott Stewart to complete a conceptual design.

The town’s initial rendering for the pedestrian and cyclist path shows it stretching from Causeway Drive to Salisbury Street with bollards at the entrances to prevent vehicles from accessing it. The path would likely include a boardwalk overlooking the marsh, an observation deck and lighting.

Another major parks and recreation project, installation of a handicap-accessible playground, will be underway soon. Parks and recreation program supervisor Katie Ryan expects installation to start the first week in April and finish by the end of May.

While the new equipment is being installed, the playground will not be open. Part of the existing equipment, the 2–5 play set, will be relocated to the Harbor Way Gardens, but how soon that new play area will be available to the public is not yet determined.

How fast the playground is finished depends largely on how quickly one piece of equipment, the Liberty Swing, arrives. Only one vendor — located in Australia — carries the wheelchair-accessible swings, Ryan explained.

The playground will also include fitness equipment like cardio machines facing the playground for parents to use, as well as core-strengthening and plyometric apparatuses.

The parks and recreation department is managing not only its ongoing and upcoming projects, but also its new programs, which include youth flag football and a six-week afternoon Hammerheads soccer skills program. Interest has been especially high for the youth flag football, Ryan remarked, saying the program’s spring season had a waitlist.

Some of the town’s summer programs are almost full, Ryan said, like the Wrightsville Beach Ocean Rescue junior lifeguard camps. The popularity of last year’s inaugural camp prompted organizers to offer two camps this summer, but Ryan said, “the first camp is full, and the second one is almost full.”

For more information on parks and recreation projects or programs, visit www.townofwrightsvillebeach.com

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