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NEWBERRY – Current and former city officials, family, friends and residents of Newberry gathered on a cool and windy Nov. 1 morning to participate in the dedication ceremony and official naming of a city park. The park, which has previously been referred to as Triangle Park due to the shape of the property, will now be known as Lois Forte Park.

The land was originally vacant, city-owned property. Forte envisioned it as a space for children and families to gather. Due, in part, to the diligence and perseverance of former Newberry City Commissioner Lois Forte, the formerly unused eight acres was turned into a park.

“I saw all those old live oak trees and saw the potential for the land to be used as a gathering place for our citizens and their families and friends,” she said. “I just had to fight for that land to be used by area families in a way that would also maintain the beauty of the property.”

Forte also advocated the city obtaining a Wild Spaces and Public Places grant to help develop the park and make it more useful and accessible. The grant was used to pave walkways, install lighting, benches, playground equipment, a large gazebo and three smaller gazebos.

Forte says she's proud of the park. “It's one of the most beautiful parks in the county,” she said. “My family, friends and my tribe are also proud of what I have been able to accomplish here,” she said referring to her heritage as a member of the Native-American Lumbee Tribe of eastern North Carolina, the largest tribe in that state.

Currently, the park is used by a church to show movies, as a place for family reunions, birthday parties and a distribution location for Thanksgiving dinners.

“People visiting Newberry use it as well,” said Forte. “We often have people here from surrounding areas.”

“The desire to officially name the park for Commissioner Forte was in recognition of her 21 and a half years of service to her city as a city commissioner and as an advocate for the preservation of the park for the citizens of Newberry,” said Mayor Bill Conrad.

The park is located at 255 N.W. 260th Street in Newberry.

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