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Park lights, press box planning in early stages for Nolan Park

By Jefferson Weaver, The News Reporter

Among the priorities identified by the Whiteville city council during their recent strategic planning meeting was the addition of lights and a press box/concession stand at Nolan Park.

City Manager Darren Currie said the staff has just started investigating possible bids for the projects, which he said will make a big difference at the park.

“With good lights we could attract more tournaments to the park,” he said. “Right now we’re kind of limited as to how long we can play. And we really need a pressbox, restrooms and concession stand.”

The new ballfields were laid out with the intention of adding a central pressbox at a later date, Currie said. The city added playing areas and other amenities with a Parks and Recreation Trust Fund (PARTF) grant that provided $500,000 in capital.

The city borrowed some of the additional $500,000 needed for the million-dollar project, and provided some in-kind payments for the balance.

Early on in the PARTF process, Currie said, lights were among the features considered, then later removed before the project was put out for bid.

“Lights are a major expenditure,” he said. “There was a time you could light a Dixie Youth baseball field for $30,000, but the cost of materials and construction have skyrocketed. Just the copper wire alone would cost more than that now.”

The proposed pressbox, Currie said, would feature a concession stand, changing rooms, storage area and restrooms, all amenities that are badly needed at the park.

“Just like we said during the planning meeting, none of these priorities will happen overnight,” Currie said, “but when we can get this done, it will really add value to our park. We knew early on there would still be work to be done at the park after the first phase was completed. Now we just have to figure out how to make this happen.”

Stuart Rogers