The Stokes County Board of Commissioners are considering pausing a grant program that has provided funding for improvements to county owned parks over past two years.
The program provided a $2,000 matching grant to community park organizations that wanted to make improvements on their parks.
“All of the parks have done one project, but they are not knocking down the door to do another project,” said County Manager Rick Morris. “We have only had one that has come back with a second project. I don’t think they have the where-with-all to do a project every year. If they are not going to use it, there is no point in putting $10,000 aside every year. We can always put it back into the budget in a future year.”
During the budget discussion about the grant fund the board also considered a recent suggestion by Commissioner Jimmy Walker that the Francisco community could apply for the park grant to help make improvements to the property of the former Francisco Elementary School.
Although both Walker and Inman had told the Francisco community that they would support such an application, other commissioners on Thursday said they did not know if the project would qualify for the grant.
“It does not currently qualify unless the board would like to make it qualify,” said Morris.
“We authorized that money for existing parks,” said Commissioner Ernest Lankford. “There would have to be something new done if we were to allocate money for a new park. If we go back and do that I am sure every community will start a park, at least I will be on the agenda to make an application for Lawsonville.”
Commissioner Ronda Jones said she wanted to support the Francisco community, but did not think she could support allowing them to apply for the grant program until more questions were answered about the future of the former school property.
“I am reminded of Camp Sertoma,” she said. “We could not give to them either and that was more significant to the county than the school is. I think while they are doing due diligence on this, that we are going to have to hold back on this because it is not a park. If we create another park, then that is just another thing the county needs to keep up.”
Board Chair Leon Inman said the board wanted the best for the Francisco community but said he also questioned supporting the grant application.
“If we give them $2,000 why can’t the Pinnacle Ruritan Club come and ask for $2,000,” he said. “We don’t know what we are going to do with the property. It may be sold if we cannot work something out.”
He said the board needed to work on getting the community permission to start doing work on the property to approve its curb appeal.
Nicholas Elmes may be reached at 336-591-8191 or on Twitter @NicholasElmes.