The LaFayette City Council took steps to secure funding for the construction of new city park during a work session on Monday afternoon in City Hall. City grant writer Louise Cox was on hand during the session to provide recommendations on how to proceed, and at the conclusion of the meeting, she was instructed to proceed with applications for submitting a grant to secure funds.
Councilman Mike Ellis originally requested the session at last week’s regular council meeting, and he began by asking where the city stood with plans for a new park.
Auburn University had previously drawn up plans for a new city park located on land the city purchased behind the city cemetery. City Clerk Louis T. Davidson told the mayor and council that he was awaiting revised plans for the park from Auburn University, which would include cost estimates for the project.
Ellis noted that he had recently visited the West Point City Park and thought it would be a good structural model to follow for LaFayette. Councilman David Ennis agreed but noted that West Point had funded the park with private donations rather that state or federal funding.
Cox told the council that there were two federal grant programs that the city could attempt to utilize for recreation, but said that getting a cost analysis from Auburn would be a critical starting points.
The first program is the land and water conservation fund, which can fund as much as $50,000 and requires a 50 percent match by the city. Cox said that the city could submit a $200,000 project but that the max they would receive from the fund would be $50,000. The grant funds outdoor recreation projects and covers everything but walking trails. However, she said that grant is based on population size and that could be a problem for LaFayette.
The second federal program is a recreational trails fund, which requires a 20 percent match from the city. Cox said funding for a simple walking trail could be for as much as $35,000 but a multipurpose trail could bring in as much as $100,000 in funds.
Applications for the land and water funds are due now, Cox said, and the recreational trails fund will be due in the spring.
Cox also recommended pursuing private, non-profit funding, much like West Point, simply because the federal programs as so competitive.
She said that the city needed to prioritize what they wanted to do first and after some discussion, the council agreed to allow Cox to begin the pre-application phase to secure land and water conservation funding for a section of the proposed new city park.
The proposal will request $100,000 in funding, with the city providing a 50 percent match, for the entrance section of the new park. The funding would provide a playground and pavilion area if approved. Cox said that a survey of the proposed section would need to be done promptly.
Based on the outcome of the grant request, the city will next move forward with requesting funding from the recreational trails funds, while also searching for private funding.
The general plan is to secure funding wherever possible and to proceed on a step-by-step basis, adding on the park as funds become available.