The New Town section of Elizabethtown will benefit from two grants recently awarded to the Town of Elizabethtown with the development of a new community center and improvements to streetscape along part of Martin Luther King (MLK) Drive.
The Town of Elizabethtown, in conjunction with engineering consultant Paul Mattox, Libby Smith and E.L. Robinson Engineering, applied for and was awarded $2,575,000 to design and construct an 11,000 sq ft Community Center on Martin Luther King Drive
According to town staff, the community center will be built on the current location of the Martin Luther King Park. The facility is designed to meet the needs of the residents with a new playground, indoor event space, multipurpose full-size playing surface with bleachers, locker rooms, commercial kitchen, meeting offices and substantial parking.
The Town had previously been awarded a Community Development Block Grant – Neighborhood Revitalization grant that will improve sidewalks and add decorative lighting to make the area safer and pedestrian friendly.
“We are grateful for the support of Assistant Secretary of Commerce Kenneth Flowers and his staff at the Rural Economic Development Division,” Elizabethtown Mayor Sylvia Campbell said. “During a personal visit to Elizabethtown, Secretary Flowers saw the need for necessary improvements to this neighborhood and shared our vision of revitalizing the former commerce hub that serves as a critical gateway to our downtown.”
Elizabethtown is partnering with Bladen County, Bladen County Schools, and Bladen Community College to offer services at the Community Center including tutoring, adult high school classes, small business development, and technology resources.
“This safe, modern facility will give the youth and citizens a place to receive educational instruction, wellness services, recreation opportunities and other support in a location close to home,” Elizabethtown Mayor Pro-tem Rufus Lloyd said. “The revitalization and development of this area of our town will make it viable for families to live here safely and be attractive to new businesses.”
The community center and improvements to the sidewalks and lighting are part of a larger plan to connect the New Town neighborhood with the downtown and to improve safe accessibility to the shopping area along South Poplar Street ( Hwy 701 S). “This is a priority for the Town Council,” Council Member Herman Lewis said. “However, it doesn’t happen overnight. It is part of a long-term plan. These grants and projects will move us closer to success.”
Bladen County Commissioner Ray Britt said that the community center will be an asset to the residents of Elizabethtown and Bladen County and “an important aspect of the ongoing revitalization of this community.”
According to Elizabethtown staff, they are working closely with the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction for initial startup operational funding and services. Additionally, the Town will create a new Community Center Committee made up of interested citizens, town council members, and Community Center Partners.
Site prep and the design, bid, build, construction is planned to begin in February 2023. Project lead for Community Center is the Elizabethtown Planning Director Rusty Worley. ([email protected])