By Scott Bigelow
Park beautification committee - From left: Keith Branch, Diane Jones, Mike Clark, R.D. Locklear, Ron Brown, Bryan Maynor, Lucille Locklear, Teresa Oxendine, Spencer Howington, Noah Woods, Buddy Bell, Guenevere Locklear and Monroe Lowry
Fundraising for the beautification of the Pembroke Town Park is off to a fast start, the steering committee announced Friday, April 30.
Corporate gifts and other pacesetter contributions, totaling $40,000, were marked on the park's fundraising "thermometer." The group hopes to raise $175,000 to improve the park, which is at the corner of Third Street and Odum Road at the entrance to The University of North Carolina at Pembroke.
The project includes a veteran's memorial walkway, history exhibit, playground equipment, wrought iron fencing, landscaping, a water feature and bathrooms.
"It should be a great addition for the town and the University," said Pembroke Town Manager McDuffie Cummings. "Because of its location, the park is very important to the town, and it is widely used now by Pembroke residents and visitors."
Lumbee Guaranty Bank, Healthkeeperz and Shaw Office Supplies of Lumberton contributed to the pacesetter phase of the campaign, said R.D. Locklear, president of the Pembroke Area Chamber of Commerce, which is working with the town on the project.
Architect Mike Clark of Native American Design Services of Pembroke is providing design services without charge, Locklear said. Katrina Locklear of Locklear and Son Funeral Home is leading the design committee, and Spencer Howington of Shaw Office Supplies is leading the fundraising committee.
"We've got some strong early commitments," Locklear said. "We will break ground July 1 right after the Lumbee Homecoming parade, and we hope to complete fundraising by Thanksgiving."
A part of the fundraising program is an "Own a Piece of the Park" program, said Dr. Diane Jones, UNCP's Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs.
"Because the park is a gateway to the University, we are partners in this project," Dr. Jones said. "We are building the park's future brick by brick with this program."
A personalized brick in the veteran's memorial walkway may be purchased for $125. Other naming opportunities are available for benches and other features of the park.
Teresa Oxendine, a chamber director and director of Donor Relations at UNCP, said a brick in the veteran's walkway is a good way to remember a loved one.
"I will be able to remember my father, who was a World War II veteran," Oxendine said.
An architect's model of the park is in the Pembroke Municipal Building for the public to view.
"We've got big plans for the park," Locklear said. "We will create a park like the historic parks of Savannah, Ga.," he said.
For information about the park, please call the Town of Pembroke at 910.521.0647.