GREENSBORO — Sue Simmons, Caroline County Parks and Recreation director, has been dedicated to the development of the North County Regional Park in Greensboro and has hope for its future.
The county commissioners bought the park in February 2016 for roughly $1.55 million.
The property consists of 207 acres along the upper Choptank River, sold for a rate of about $7,800 an acre.
“The North County Regional Park is going to be a signature active use area proximate to the upper Choptank, which is a treasure tributary of the Chesapeake Bay,” Simmons said. “The park already includes nature trails for biking, hiking, fishing, nature appreciation and resource-based activities.”
In the proposed plans, the park will need funding for multipurpose athletic fields, a community center, playgrounds, picnicking areas and pavilions, disc golf and frisbee golf fields, and a dog park.
“We are protecting this 207-acre property for future park development,” Simmons said. “The funding resources we use can’t be converted for any other use.”
The agreement of the land was made official in March 2016 and included a three-year lease of the property for crops.
“The county commissioners agreed that they didn’t want to disrupt the immediate agriculture production for a three-year period,” Simmons said. “That makes 2020 the first year that we won’t have crops being grown on the property, and that gives us space to do more things.”
The process of the project still is in the early stages four years after the original agreement.
“We don’t have the resources to develop the process yet,” Simmons said. “We are currently working on our five-year budget plan to accumulate the resources so we can move forward with more concrete plans.”
Mark Losocha, parks and capital projects coordinator, is responsible for the maintenance and operations for the existing project and said erosion is something they have to focus on containing before they can develop the park.
“One of our main goals is to continue the engineering design for the construction for the erosion improvements,” Losocha said. “We are developing an application for $500,000 or more to stabilize our stream tributary where there is erosion.”
The fund is through the Coastal Bay Trust Fund through the Department of Natural Resources that can be used only for water, resources and environmental stabilization projects.
Simmons said the erosion was caused by aggressive agricultural practices over the years.
“Farmers who leased the land would get aggressive by planting too close to the edge of the fields,” she said. “They were just doing their job to generate the most yield in the field, but this is something they wouldn’t do if it were their own land.”
The active plan for the park going forward is to continue to improve and mark trails, and complete surveys to compete for funding and engineering designs for construction for erosion improvements.
“We are targeting construction starting in 2023,” Simmons said. “It will all depend on the acquisition of funding and how we plan to implement them.”