Yancey County Receives $250,000 Grant for Ray-Cort Park Renovation

Yancey County Commissioners were recently notified that the county will receive a $250,000 grant to complete renovations and improvements to Ray-Cort Park. Governor Roy Cooper announced the award to Yancey County will come from the state's Parks and Recreation Trust Fund. "The commissioners are please to be able to provide parks and recreation resources to make our community a great place to live. We are extremely grateful for this grant assistance to make substantial improvements to Ray-Cort Park," stated Commissioner Johnny Riddle.

This grant award is the result of several months of work by commissioners, county staff and community advocates to prepare and submit an application for funding to renovate the oldest park in the Yancey County Park System. County staff worked with Site Design Studio to develop conceptual plans which were reviewed at public meetings by members of the community. Valuable assistance and guidance was received from the High Country Council of Governments, Partners Aligned Toward Health, Blue Ridge Resource Conversation and Development Council (RC&D), Yancey Alliance for Young Children, AMY Regional Library, Healthy Yancey and others to seek community input regarding desired park elements, changes and usage. "We are excited to see Ray-Cort Park transformed and re-vitalized as asset for play, physical activity, education, and more for all ages and abilities in our community," stated Schell McCall, Executive Director for Partners Aligned Toward Health.

This grant, along with additional grant resources secured by the RC&D, will provide comprehensive improvements and upgrades throughout the park. Mitchell Branch, the stream that runs throughout the park, will be repaired and stabilized to stop serious erosion issues utilizing approximately $90,000 in grant funds from US Fish & Wildlife Service and N.C. Department of Environmental Quality. Existing picnic shelters will be renovated and additional shelters will be constructed in other locations in the park. A new playground with modern structures and playscape will be constructed to take advantage of the natural environment and terrain. Additionally, outdoor fitness equipment stations will be installed to accompany a new walking trail that will have measured loops within the park but also connect to the public sidewalk system outside of the park. Other improvements will include expanded and improved parking, restrooms, creek access and an outdoor education classroom.

"The County wants Ray-Cort Park to be that 'go to' community asset, centrally located here in Burnsville, that is utilized by the entire community for all types of recreation opportunities, fitness and play equipment, gathering spaces, and community vitality," stated County Manager Nathan Bennett. Construction is expected to begin late fall and continue in phases throughout next year.

The Parks and Recreation Trust Fund is administered through the state Division of Parks and Recreation and was established in 1994 by the N.C. General Assembly.


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