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Opinions vary on money left from 2006 parks bond

READ MORE: Opinions vary on money left from 2006 parks bond
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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- As we told you last night, New Hanover County is considering spending $3.8 million for land next to Smith Creek Park. The money is from the 2006 Parks and Rec bond, but some are wary about spending the money.

"There's so many families that need work, and that's the main thing I think that everybody needs to look at when they spend the money," Glenn George said. "It's keeping us employed."

George said he's in favor of using park bond money, as long as the spending creates jobs, like the one he's been contracted to do at Smith Creek Park.

New Hanover County resident John Maffetore also favors green space, but wants responsible spending as well.

"I do want lands to be saved for people to get out and enjoy it, so I think it's a good idea, yes," Maffetore said. "Should they maybe find other places where they can tighten up and maybe not spend some money on, you know, would be a good idea."

The 2006 parks bond gave the county, Wilmington and the beach towns $35.5 million to spend on parks and recreation. Now, the county is considering using some of the money to buy 85 acres near Smith Creek Park.

The county would buy the land from Swain and Associates, which has a contract to buy it from The Legacy Group in Wilmington, which is run by Robin Grathwol. She's also the head of R-3, which is the company that just failed on a trash contract with the county.

"I have no knowledge of anything suspect here, but it does raise eyebrows, and we want to make sure that everything is in the open and transparent, and so we will be asking questions," County Commissioner Rick Catlin said.

Catlin said the unused parks money could go to pay back the bond. But with the bond already approved, he says there is no benefit in not using the money for its original intent.

"Parks and green space are a quality of life enhancer," he said.

George agrees.

"It's a beautiful place," he said. "I just hope people find out about it and they utilize the stuff that everybody's improving and using the money for."

The potential purchase would be one of the last using the parks and rec bond money.

New Hanover County Finance Director Avril Pinder sent us the following statement when we asked how much parks bond money is left to spend: "In the County project section there is $7.6M that has not been spent to date. Once the $3.8M for land at Smith Creek park is spent the balance would be $3.8M."

Catlin said the commission could decide to buy the land as soon as its meeting Monday.

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