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Emerald Isle Closes on Park Land Purchase

The 30-acre tract is directly behind the Emerald Isle’s town government complex and includes a mature maritime forest with frontage on Archers Creek. Photo: Emerald Isle

EMERALD ISLE — A national environmental organization closed Tuesday for the town on a $3 million purchase of a nearly 30-acre tract behind the former town hall and recreation center on the north side of Emerald Drive, the Carteret County News-Times reported.

The Conservation Fund, which has an office in the state, will hold the property and is to convey it to the town in the spring of 2018, but will allow public use of it in the interim.

Emerald Isle Town Manager Frank Rush said use will involve walking nature trails, which will be created by town staff and some Eagle Scout candidates.
The property will become known as McLean-Spell Park, after two of the town’s founding families. About 20 acres is to remain a maritime forest, but about 10 acres will eventually be used for a more active park, such as ball fields.

Half of the purchase cost, $1.5 million, is coming from the military because the land is in the flight path of jets that use Bogue Field, an auxiliary landing strip for the Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point.

The military is interested in protecting the land from development because of the potential for a disaster should one of its aircraft crash in a high-density residential development.

Another $500,000 has already been approved by the state General Assembly from the N.C. Parks and Recreation Trust Fund, as has $545,000 from the state Clean Water Management Trust Fund.

State Rep. Pat McElraft, a Republican who lives in Emerald Isle, pushed successfully for the grants to be included in the state budget for 2017-18 instead of waiting for the normal, somewhat slower, approval process by those agencies. The town is chipping in the remaining $455,000.

The town will pay an additional $75,000 to The Conservation Fund for its service.

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The story was compiled by staff members of Coastal Review Online.