A handful of elected Hope Mills government leaders, along with some members of the town staff, recently toured some of the town’s undeveloped property. The purpose was to put eyes on what’s there in order to hopefully solidify plans for what can be done with the land.
Hope Mills Mayor Jackie Warner, Mayor Pro Tem Mike Mitchell and commissioners Jerry Legge and Meg Larson were among those who took part in the in-person inspection of the old golf course, the planned Heritage Park and the remnants of Hope Mills Lake No. 2.
“I think the main reason we did it was so the board would be familiar with the properties,’’ Warner said. She said the walk helped the board members get a visual feel for what may or may not be feasible at the various locations.
Warner said she previously visited the golf course four years ago when it was about to be returned to the town.
She noted some or all of the properties had undergone numerous changes over time.
The golf course in particular has become more overgrown in the wooded areas. Some trails and paths for golf carts have been washed away because of flooding caused by Hurricanes Matthew and Florence.
“There are areas where it gets really soggy due to the fact we had a good bit of flooding,’’ Warner said.
At Heritage Park, where there are remnants of the old mill, there is a lot more graffiti.
Warner thinks that of the three locations that were toured, the one that offers the most promise for quickest development is Heritage Park.
“We have a plan for it,’’ she said. “We had it set up as phase three of the lake park plan.’’ That plan is currently on hold at the request of the Board of Commissioners. Warner feels if the plan was put into motion it would be the easiest to complete and the least expensive of the three.
As for the golf course property, Warner is optimistic about getting grant funding to move forward. But she’s concerned that it will be far more expensive to advance the kind of projects the community has expressed an interest in seeing developed.
“I think we’re going to have to have partnerships,’’ she said of development of the golf course property. “I’m much in favor of partnerships with the YMCA or others to fund things that the community wants there.’’
She doesn’t think a good portion.of Hope Mills Lake No. 2 can be used for many things because of the terrain there.
This was the area that the Lone Survivor Foundation attempted to purchase for use as a veterans retreat. The LSF was repeatedly rejected by the Hope Mills Board of Commissioners in its quest.
Warner said even if the land around Hope Mills Lake No. 2 is left in a natural state and opened to the public for recreational use, the town will have to spend some money to make the area more secure.
Another problem at the site is it’s been used as a place for the town to dump rocks and gravel.
“If we leave it natural and you have access to it, I think you’ll have to have some form of lighting, some form of monitoring to make sure you don’t have injury or people in there that shouldn’t be in there,’’ Warner said. “There would be a lot of cleanup that would have to be done.’’