Belville town leaders approve first step in expanding Cape Fear Raptor Center

(Source: WECT)
(Source: WECT)

BELVILLE, NC (WECT) - Monday night's vote by Belville town commissioners was the first step in the Cape Fear Raptor Center expanding its hospital and education center into Brunswick Riverwalk Park.

The Cape Fear Raptor Center provides rehabilitation services to injured raptors with the goal of releasing them back to their natural habitat.

Town leaders say they want the park to be a source of education, history and make visitors aware of the environment. A portion of wooded land in the park will be set aside for the Cape Fear Raptor Center, which Commissioner Joe Breault said will also be adding additional parking, expanding the park by 30 percent.

"It, first of all, allows the people to come in and see raptors up close and to learn how important they are, how beautiful they are, and how critical they are to our environment," Breault said. "It also gives us an opportunity to educate them, which is the focus of what we are trying to do with the park, so all and all, it was just the perfect marriage."

Breault said in order for the Cape Fear Raptor Center to move forward with building the facility, it had to have a fixed address in the park to apply for grants. The nonprofit organization then must physically survey out within the area the town identified as a sustainability zone.

Breault said the income that comes from within that zone will be used to improve the park and move it forward, which he said is a win-win for everyone.

"They get the land, we get them to bring in the utilities we need and we get them to expand the parking lot we want and it doesn't cost the taxpayers any money," Breault said.

Also during Monday night's meeting, commissioners approved the building of more permanent space for the town's farmers market, which will be paid for by Port City Produce and Seaview Crab Company in return for 30 months of free rent. Town leaders say the space should be open by February 2018.

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