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WILMINGTON, NC (NHCGOV) -– New Hanover County Commissioners are considering the purchase of 85 acres that border the existing 92-acre Smith Creek Park off of Gordon Road in Wilmington as a means of significantly expanding the county’s green space system.

The price for the 85-acre parcel is $3.8 million and would be funded by moneys set aside for green space purchases, as mandated by the 2006 green space bond referendum passed by city and county residents. The new park, to be entitled The Smith Creek Nature Center, is being proposed for nature and environmental education opportunities for all ages. The property includes a high sand ridge, a mature pine bluff, and an open meadow overlooking Smith Creek Park. Planned amenities would include a trail system with learning center, exhibits and amphitheater, and bike/walking trails.

The centerpiece of the existing Smith Creek Park property is a 35-acre lake formed during its origin, as a sand mine, which once provided sand for the construction of I-40 in the 1980s. Today, the lake is fed by groundwater and an underground spring, and is one of the largest manmade lakes in the county. Additional amenities planned for Smith Creek Park include a playground, a 1.25-mile multi-use path, restrooms, two shelters, and 50 parking spaces.

The expanded park will be further enhanced by plans underway by Evolution Hoops, LLC to develop a unique basketball camp for children. Adjacent to the childhood home of basketball great Michael Jordan, Evolution Hoops is envisioned as a state-of-the-art basketball camp to increase access for aspiring and at-risk young players to play year-round hoops and receive professional, team-oriented instruction.

If approved, New Hanover County will purchase the parcel from Swain & Associates, a Wilmington-based development company. The property is under contract to purchase by Swain & Associates from The Legacy Group of NC, Inc. of Wilmington, NC.

According to Jim McDaniel, Director of Parks, Gardens and the Senior Resource Center, the original price for the 85-acre parcel was $6 million. The parcel is now being offered to the county at $3.8 million. “New Hanover County has an opportunity to purchase an ideally located property at an excellent value,” said McDaniel. “We believe the proposed park will significantly enhance the property values of the adjacent neighborhoods, mitigate the traffic congestion that further residential development would have brought to the area, and provide local residents with another way to get outside and enjoy the beauty and wildlife our county has to offer.”

New Hanover County Commissioners are expected to vote on the purchase at their bimonthly Commissioners’ meeting on Monday, May 16.


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