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Can Parks Drive Regional Economic Development?

Wilmington's Greenfield Park

As New Hanover County launches its comprehensive plan to accommodate the region’s projected growth, leaders are looking into the future of open spaces and parks. Tuesday night, the Cape Fear Economic Development Council, or CFEDC, assembled a panel of green space proponents from the county--as well as from the City of Wilmington--to discuss ideas for new and improved public spaces.

Panelists were optimistic about the possibility of a future cohesive park district, parks’ positive role in urban development, and the importance of outdoor learning environments. CFEDC board member Lawrence Craige says that as population counts mount, he hopes Cape Fear-area leaders can form a unified vision concerning open spaces.

"Parks are economic development, and they preserve the quality of life that brings people to this area. They come for the high quality of life, and parks help them experience that. Not just for this generation, but for generations to come."

Experts say they’re seeking ongoing public input concerning city and county parks. And city officials say that come April, they hope to launch an aggressive, open public engagement process to help make decisions regarding the proposed new waterfront park.