The iconic but now-empty courthouse is being renovated by Swain County to serve as a cultural heritage museum and Smokies visitor center. A landscaped town park on the banks of the Tuckaseegee where people can relax, picnic and access the water will round out the vision and add to downtown amenities.
The grant will help fund a fishing and sight viewing pier, picnic tables, lighting and a parking lot.
The county will match the state’s contribution, bringing the total project budget to $300,000.
“With the parking and lighting, you are talking pretty big bucks there,” said Ken Mills, executive director of economic development commission.
The new park, which will be less than an acre, is part of an existing greenway master plan the county adopted in the mid-1990s that runs along the Tuckaseegee River. The greenway, if and when finished, will run from the public boat ramp on Old N.C. Highway 288 to Governors Island. The Swain Courthouse Square Riverfront Park is just one piece of the puzzle, however. More areas still need to be developed to complete the project.
“You try to build where you can, and you fill in where you can. It’s a long-term operation so you build where you can,” Mills said.
— By Caitlin Bowling