Claremont seeks park grant — again

The city of Claremont is again seeking funding to renovate Francis Sigman Park.

The park, located off Keisler Dairy Road near downtown, currently houses two baseball fields, football goalposts and other land leased by the Claremont Optimist Club.

For the second time, the city is seeking grant funding from the North Carolina Parks and Recreation Trust Fund (PARTF) to help pay for planned improvements, which include a new softball field, greenway and parking lots, according to information provided by the city.

“These funds will help us finish the vision behind the park and provide for year-round programming at this facility,” said Claremont City Manager Doug Barrick. “It will also bring much needed bathrooms and upgrades to the existing park.”

The total renovation project will cost more than $138,000. If awarded the grant, PARTF would pay for 50 percent of the funding. The city would pay remaining costs.

The project will provide essential upgrades to the park, including three handicap parking areas, restrooms and walking trails.

The proposal also includes more than $6,000 in contingency funds for the project.

“The No. 1 project has to be a restroom,” said Henry Helton, Claremont’s special events coordinator. “The Optimists are using Porta-Johns right now for their restrooms.”

Helton said improvements like restrooms could bring softball tournaments and other sporting events to the city — an influx of teams, children and families that could bring an eco-development boost to the town.

City leaders say park upgrades may also build better relationships with active organizations in the area, such as the Adrian L. Shuford YMCA in Conover.

Shuford YMCA board member Jonathan Waters spoke in support of the park upgrades Tuesday at a Claremont City Council meeting.

“I would love to see a strong collaboration between the city of Conover, Claremont and the YMCA of Catawba Valley,” he said. “I believe we can make a big difference with this in the community.”

This is the second time Claremont has applied for a PARTF grant for the park, which has been in existence for about 20 years.

City officials say the grant funding is crucial for the renovation.

Being denied the funding would delay the renovation process up to five more years, Barrick said.

The deadline to apply for the grant is at the end of the month, and the city should hear back from PARTF in May.

Planned park improvements
In addition to handicapped-accessible parking, restrooms and walking trails, Francis Sigman Park improvement plans include:
An upgraded parking lot, $5,000
Fence in front of the park, $5,200
Six sets of bleachers, $8,900
Adult softball field, $600
1,020 feet of fencing for adult softball and football fields, including dugouts, $25,660
Lighting for adult softball field, $6,000
Greenway/walking trail, $15,000
Three score tables, $1,311
Restrooms, $33,500
Two sets of cement steps with handrails and sidewalks, $12,280
Four scoreboards for each field, $11,300
Signage, $1,000