ELIZABETHTOWN — Local state parks may soon get a facelift if voters pass the Connect NC Bond slated to come before the electorate on March 15. Jones Lake State Park and Singletary Lake State Park would each receive substantial funds if the bond is approved.
The $2 billion bond would distribute funds among community colleges, the University of N.C. System, the National Guard, state parks, agriculture, local parks, and public safety. Jones Lake State Park is slated to receive $651,750, and Singletary Lake State Park would receive $575,250 if voters approve the bond, which would require no tax increase.
In order to receive funds from the bond, park staff were required to make a wish list of what they would like to see done at their park and to submit that information to a board for consideration.
Jones Lake State Park, which saw 130,379 visitors in 2015, has seen an increase in attendance, and staff there hope to improve their campground sites for the attendees. The park currently has 20 campsites and a bathhouse, but only one campsite is electric.
Shane Freeman, superintendent at Jones Lake, said that the electric campsite is in high demand.
“We only have one electric campsite currently, and it’s booked all the time,” he said. “We get calls daily from folks looking for electric campsites—a lot of people camping with RV’s, and you’d be surprised at the number of people tent camping that want electricity at their sites.”
With the funding, the park would update half of their sites to include electricity and water and would build new bathhouse and shower facilities. Shane reported that the current bathhouse dates back to the 1950’s and is inadequate for their needs.
Regarding which projects to undertake with potential funding, Freeman said the decision was based on which ones would benefit the public the most.
“We do have some other things that are listed in our general management plan — a new shop, a larger, more modernized facility, a larger covered storage space for equipment — but this is definitely the big project that visitors coming into park would take notice of and that would most directly affect visitor experience,” he said.
Charlie Peek, public information officer for NC State Parks, reported that the benefit to Bladen County residents is twofold.
“It would affect local recreation,” he said. “There would be more opportunities to camp there and better facilities to use. On a broader scale, the state park would be one of the little facets that makes Bladen County attractive to visitors and anything that would help in that regard would be welcome in Bladen County.”
Every state park in would receive funding from the proposed bond, and Peek conjectured that Bladen County is in the top half with regard to the amount of funding the local state parks would receive.
Representatives at Singletary Lake State Park could not be reached for comment.
For more information on the Connect NC Bond, visit www.connect.nc.gov.
Chrysta Carroll can be reached by calling 910-862-4163.