MINT HILL, NC – Renovations almost a full year in the making are nearing completion at Mint Hill’s Veterans Park.
Upgrades began last June with the complete reconstruction and rebuilding of the lower tennis courts to alleviate drainage problems. Additionally, one existing court was converted into two pickleball courts, which have been so popular that there are plans in the works to put in two more courts at the Park on Wilgrove. Work on the tennis and pickleball courts was completed in late August. This project was completed using Federal ARPA funds at a cost of $225,000.
The next phase of renovations involved installation of LED lighting to both the tennis and soccer fields and replacement of outdated toddler playground equipment with more modern and inclusive structures. The LED field lighting project was underway by mid-September, with crews installing new 80-foot poles with LED lights to allow use of the fields after sunset.
Originally anticipated to last through the end of 2022, the LED lighting project was brought to completion in March of 2023, including the soccer fields at Veterans Park, the tennis courts at both Veterans and Wilgrove, and the softball field at Wilgrove Park. The tennis court lights at both parks automatically come on just before sunset, dim to a lower level at 10:00 pm, and turn off at 10:15 pm. The entire lighting project was completed using approximately $975k of ARPA funds.
Meanwhile, after Mint Hill Madness, crews began work converting Veterans Park’s soccer fields to synthetic turf as well as refurbishing the paved walking trail surrounding the two fields. The renovations hit a milestone in early April when the upper field’s turf was installed. By late April, both grass soccer fields had been replaced with synthetic turf striped for full-size soccer, full-size football and half-sized (youth) soccer.
As of late April, the contractor was working on completing the stormwater pond and restoring the surrounding grounds. “The fields may look complete, but they are not yet ready to play on,” cautions Town Engineer and Director of Public Works Steve Frey. “Please continue to adhere to closed areas for your safety and the integrity of the new surfaces we’ve built.” The Town hopes to reopen the fields in July of 2023.
The bill for renovating the soccer fields comes in at about $2M; like the tennis court reconstruction and LED lighting project, it was completed with ARPA funds. According to the Government Finance Officers Association, The American Rescue Plan Act (known popularly as ARPA or COVID relief funds) was signed into law on March 11, 2020, and provide $350 billion in additional funding for state and local governments.
Mint Hill received $8.8M in ARPA funds and elected to spend the bulk of those funds on Mint Hill’s parks. In addition to the improvements happening at Veterans and Wilgrove, plans are in the works for a new park on a 30-acre plot of land off Brief Road across from Mint Hill Athletic Association. The park will include a playground, a dog park, picnic areas and walking trails.
If you’re asking yourself what the continuing work at Veterans Park means for events like Family Fun Night and Music and Brews that have traditionally taken place on the soccer fields, don’t worry. Until the soccer fields are ready for use, Family Fun Nights and Music & Brews events will be held on the adjacent softball/multipurpose field. “Same events, just moved a few hundred feet to a different part of the park,” ensures Frey.
“The new fields bring some new restrictions with them—namely, no vehicles or other heavy things on them,” continues Frey. “The old grass fields had a similar restriction, but they were a little more forgiving. The new AstroTurf fields can be damaged if we don’t follow some basic rules with them, so staff will be a little extra vigilant in watching things during setup and tear-down. That doesn’t mean we cannot have events on them,” he continues. “The new fields have required some reorganization of the layouts for Family Fun Nights and Mint Hill Madness, but the events will be essentially the same to attendees.”