What’s next for Freeman Park? City council members vote on purchase

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) – For years, the City of Carolina Beach and Freeman Park landowners have been embroiled in a lawsuit over the use of the property. Now those lawsuits are over after the city official bought more than 300 acres of land on the north end of Pleasure Island.

“I am absolutely thrilled that the residents of Carolina Beach now own a Freeman Park after all these years,” Councilwoman Deb LeCompte said.

She’s not alone in this excitement, buying the park has been a city council goal for some time now.

“[It’s a] big win, over 300 acres of pristine coastal environment that will be preserved forever,” said Councilman Joe Benson.

Benson has seen the struggles the city has faced with the park, from the forced closures due to erosion issues to the lawsuits and legal fees the city has faced. Now he hopes the city will be able to restore the park to its full size through dredging by the Army Corps of Engineers – and no longer need the owners’ permission to replenish this part of the park. beach.

“They’re going to come back to us the next time they need to dredge, they’re going to give them an easement and the pinch point material placement over time should return the park to something closer to what it was. before,” he said.

The land wasn’t cheap, it cost $7 million, but that cost has already been offset by money from the city’s beach restoration fund, as well as the room occupancy tax. City council members hope to receive more funding from alternative sources to help with some of the cost of Freeman Park.

As for the future of the park, city officials say preservation is key — but we may see additional infrastructure in the park in the future.

“There are a lot of ideas, but nothing concrete like with the outdoor classes. I don’t think we all want anyone driving over these dunes, personally I don’t think we need to preserve these dunes as best we can and the marsh behind them. But I would like to see a little walkway much like in our other parks,” LeCompte said.

Benson and LeCompte said preservation is a major part of this decision to buy the land, and now residents and visitors to the island will be sure that no development is taking place on some of the last undeveloped land in the city.

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