Park Grant for Princeville (NC)

PRINCEVILLE, N.C. 6/14/02 — The Town of Princeville, in cooperation with the Trust for Public Land, has acquired a matching grant to acquire an 11.29-acre tract of land for the creation of the Riverside Heritage Park, the anchor park of the Princeville Heritage Trail.

The $165,750 matching grant came from the North Carolina Parks and Recreation Trust Fund. The Fund was established by the North Carolina General Assembly in 1994 and is the primary source of funding for land acquisition and new facilities for the state parks system.

“The North Carolina Parks and Recreation Authority is very pleased to be able to assist Princeville in is valiant work to recover from the devastating effects of Hurricane Floyd. We believe that the Princeville Heritage Trail will enhance the quality of life for Princeville’s residents and visitors,” said Jonathan B. Howes, chair of the N.C. Parks and Recreation Authority.

“This grant was a godsend,” said Mayor Delia Perkins of Princeville. “Even after Hurricane Floyd devastated us three years ago, we had hope. This is not only an answer to our prayers but puts real meat on the bones of our hopes.”

“The Trust for Public Land pledges itself to lead the fundraising drive for the balance of the matching funds,” promised D.G. Martin, Carolinas director for the Trust for Public Land.

“We were all heartbroken as we watched Hurricane Floyd devastate eastern North Carolina,” said U.S. Rep. Eva Clayton. “For days it seemed as though there was nothing to see but television pictures of water overflowing the riverbank and surging through homes and buildings. All 2,100 residents were forced to flee; but courage, commitment and a sense of community remained intact. This grant serves as a reminder that the floods did damage but did not wash away hope,” she said.

If the property is not purchased for public use by Jan. 1, 2003, the landowner could develop the site for residential purposes.Settled by freed slaves in 1885, Princeville holds a significant place in history as the first town founded by African Americans in the United States.

Hurricane Floyd’s floods completely inundated the Town in September of 1999 when the Tar River broke through a protective dike. Every building in town was flooded to its rooftop for nearly 10 days. The town has been diligently rebuilding ever since.

The Princeville Heritage Trail – a historic walking trail alongside the Tar River, running from Freedom Hill/Powell Park to the Riverside Heritage Park – is envisioned as a local town commons and an economic engine drawing tourists and students to Princeville’s history, culture, and sense of place in American history.

Prior to the flood, the National Park Service sponsored the design of the Princeville Heritage Trail. The project proposed a combination walking, biking and driving trail that would connect the town’s historical, cultural and recreational resources. Riverside Heritage Park will serve as an access point to the Heritage Trail as well as a recreational park for Princeville’s residents and visitors. The Heritage Trail itself, will include an improved scenic trail along the Tar River, wetlands walkways and interpretive signs, as well as showcasing an historic baptism site along the river.

Today, Princeville’s public recreation facilities inadequately serve its residents. Only one public park, Mutual Park, provides basic amenities such as restrooms, basketball courts, a picnic shelter and an open play space. The Riverside Heritage Park site is large enough to accommodate a variety of sports activities, including a softball field and multi-use fields as well as a picnic area with a covered pavilion, a playground and a community center.

The Town’s dreams for the Princeville Heritage Trail and Riverside Heritage Park are shared and supported by many partners: The Trust for Public Land, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the National Park Service, U.S. Rep. Eva Clayton and Lowe’s Home Improvement Warehouse.

“Our renaissance since Hurricane Floyd is remarkable, but all the pieces of healthy recovery are not yet in place. Riverside Heritage Park and the Princeville Heritage Trail will help to diversify and strengthen the local economy while sustaining the strong community that has returned to rebuild its flood ravaged home,” said Princeville Town Manager Bobby Hopkins.

The Trust for Public Land (TPL) is a national conservation organization dedicated to protecting land for people. Since 1972, TPL has protected more than 1.2 million acres nationwide valued at $2 billion. TPL has helped protect more than 10,000 acres across North Carolina, from the shores of Mountain Island Lake to the headwaters of the Chattooga River. The Wall Street Journal’s Smart Money magazine recently named TPL the nation’s most efficient large conservation charity for the second year in a row, based on the percentage of funds dedicated to programs.