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Mecklenburg County to spend $3.6 million on land for new park

A map of a park site near the river
Mecklenburg County Polaris
Mecklenburg County

Mecklenburg County commissioners approved plans this week to spend $3.65 million on 35 acres for a new park along the Catawba River in Charlotte and areas of unincorporated Mecklenburg.

The property is near Mountain Island Dam, near N.C. 27.

The land will be host to walking trails, hiking trails, nature observation areas and wildlife preservation.

Commission Vice Chair Elaine Powell said she was elated about the potential of the new park.

“This is a legacy purchase on the Catawba River, it’s a big deal,” said Powell “I will never forget this day.”

Charlotte has struggled to score well against peer cities in National Park rankings. The area has seen a low amount of park space, access and spending per capita on parks. In 2018, Charlotte was ranked 97th out of 100 large cities by the Trust for Public Land.

Nearby city Winston Salem ranked 80th, Greensboro 76th and Raleigh ranked 50th.

However, over the last few years, there have been steady, yet slight improvements to the score. In 2022, Charlotte ranked 83rd in the country, according to data from the most recent Trust Public Land Score.

Commission member Mark Jerrell said he thinks the park rankings don’t always tell the entire story.

“The TPL park score has been the bane of my existence since I've sat at this desk,” said Jerrell. “It’s great to see the progress, but there’s more I would like to see.”

In part because of increased spending on parks, officials said they expect Charlotte to be ranked as high as 65th by TPL in 2023.

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Kenny is a Maryland native who began his career in media as a sportswriter at Tuskegee University, covering SIAC sports working for the athletic department and as a sports correspondent for the Tuskegee Campus Digest. Following his time at Tuskegee, he was accepted to the NASCAR Diversity Internship Program as a Marketing Intern for The NASCAR Foundation in Daytona Beach, Florida in 2017.