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City Council approves $3.9 million for downtown park

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Downtown Wilmington could have a very different appearance in the not-so-distant future after City Council approved a $3.9 million purchase of 6.3 acres on the downtown riverfront.

“It’s a historic moment,” Mayor Bill Saffo said. “The city has been looking for parkland along our riverfront for many years.”

After years of searching the Wilmington City Council has found a home for a planned park along the north end of the historic downtown riverfront.

Saffo says the plan is laid out in the vision 2020 plan.

“We’d like to keep it more passive in nature and probably include some type of amphitheater type of facility, where you can have concerts down there if you’d like,” Saffo said. “We’re also going to look at different types of programs, and that’s something we’ll be evaluating and taking a look at.”

At least one taxpayer is not happy with the council’s newest purchase. Paige Freeman says the city swung and missed when it tried to buy the property to build a taxpayer funded ballpark and needs to accept that it struck out with voters.

“I think it’s a misuse of taxpayer dollars,” Freeman said. “I think a venture of this type should be done by the private sector that can more soundly develop it with no cost or liability to the taxpayer.”

Saffo disagrees.

“I don’t think it’s a waste of taxpayer dollars,” he said. “I think the citizens are going to be the biggest benefactors of that, because they’re going to enjoy it.”

Saffo says that council will take recommendations from Wilmington residents at upcoming meetings as they try to decide their vision for the park property.

A city spokeswoman said the park will be paid for with a combination of funds from the city’s saving account and monies left over from completed capital projects.


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