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50 at 50 - September 22

Posted By MICHELLE WELLS, NC RECREATION & PARK ASSN, Friday, September 22, 2017
Updated: Thursday, September 21, 2017
On Tuesday, Wanda Parmlee, Nicole Miller, and I were fortunate to attend the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony for the new San-Lee Park Nature Center. The story of this new building begins 2 years, 10 months and 2 days before the ribbon cutting with a fire that destroyed the previous building. I recall hearing about this fire on my local TV station and from conversations I had with Lee County Parks & Recreation staff soon after the fire, I learned many groups assisted with the housing and care of the animals that survived the fire until they could be returned to the park.

San-Lee Park was opened in 1978 and is 177 acres. This property and the pumping station that housed the previous nature center was constructed in 1933 and served as the water supply for Sanford. When a new water supply was built by the city, the county worked to obtain this property and develop an educational park.

As the saying goes, a phoenix rises from the ashes and that is the case at San-Lee Park. Surrounded by 2 lakes for fishing and paddle boats, 12 miles of top-rated mountain biking trails, 4 miles of hiking trails, tent camping facilities, and a meadow with a small playground and open space, the nature center is the feature attraction. At just over 6000 square feet inside and a 2300 square feet deck overlooking the lake, this facility has exhibition space to allow visitors to learn about nature and the animals kept in the center. In addition to the exhibits, the center has a classroom for programming, an event space with kitchen and access to the desk, along with office space for the staff.

I think Amy Dalrymple, Chair of the Lee County Board of Commissioners shared some important words, “this is something for Lee County residents to be proud of and to remember that is it important to get outside and take a breath of fresh air”. In closing, she encouraged all to bring their families and tell their friends. I would concur, tt is a place I want to visit again with my friends.

You can find San-Lee Park at 572 Pumping Station Road, Sanford, NC and more information about the park at

Note: Special thanks to Lee County Parks & Recreation and HH Architecture for inviting the NCRPA staff to join you in the celebration.

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Tags:  50at50  Nature  parks  recreation 

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