Down Debt

Carolina Beach awarded $4 million grant to Freeman Park

Carolina Beach, NC (WECT) – Carolina Beach purchased Freeman Park for $7 million in April to preserve the natural coastal environment. They recently received a $4 million grant from the North Carolina Land and Water Fund that helped pay off debt they still owed.

There has been talk before of using the land for a commercial building, but residents have spoken up to prevent that from happening and say they want to leave the natural habitat alone.

Buying this land took years of costly litigation, but in April there was a sign of relief.

Lynn Barbee, Mayor of Carolina Beach, explained how proud he was of the purchase: “For the City of Carolina Beach, being able to preserve 300 acres of beachfront habitat for the future is a fantastic goal. to achieve for this city and we’re really proud of that,” he said.

Now that the debt is paid off, the city can come up with a plan for what to do with the land. The requests they have made are to add walking trails, viewing platforms, historic monuments and markers, covered picnic facilities, and educational opportunities.

“We are limited in what we can do because it is a conservation area, although we plan to have the opportunity for people to see what an environment it is. pristine,” said Carolina Beach City Manager Bruce Oakley.

But the history of this land is worth knowing.

In 1855, Alexander Freeman purchased the property and soon established the Seabreeze Beach Resort, which was one of two recreational beaches open to African Americans during segregation in the Southeast. In the early 90’s people traveled many miles to experience this resort town and it quickly grew into a well-known community.

When Freeman died, supposedly around the Civil War, he left acres of land to his heirs, over the years these heirs sold their portions of land.

In 1954, Freeman Beach-Seabreeze suffered major damage from Hurricane Hazel. Landmarks have been destroyed and have been knocked down or washed away. The land was part of a major beach erosion and its area has shrunk.

Eventually, the Freemans sold the land to a company named Freeman Beach LLC, which had no historical connection to the family.

Carolina Beach now owns the land and the goal of this project is to engage and educate people on the ground while enjoying natural coastal sites.