Additional $300,000 needed for greenway work

By Tom Joyce

August 20, 2014

A greenway connector in Mount Airy which officials already have said could cost up to $4.5 million apparently will have an even higher price tag due to related stream stabilization.

The city board of commissioners is expected to vote at a meeting tonight to state the need for an additional $300,000 in funding for the connector project. In addition to linking the existing Emily B. Taylor and Ararat River greenways, it will involve streambank stabilization and stream restoration for sections of the river and Lovills Creek which are located along the connector route.

Receiving the $300,000 would enable the city government to move toward completion of the connector/stream restoration, states a resolution to be considered by the commissioners during their meeting beginning at 7 p.m.

The connector itself will be a 2.2-mile walking and biking trail, with the route for the 10-foot-wide asphalt pathway joining the existing greenways at the southernmost ends of each. It will go from the Ararat River Greenway at a point near B.H. Tharrington Primary School to the Ararat’s confluence with Lovills Creek and link to an extended Taylor greenway, which now ends at Worth Street near Mayflower Seafood.

Officials have said the project will be completed by the end of 2016.

Partial funding for the construction has been provided by the Federal Highway Administration, the N.C. Department of Transportation, $430,000 from the city government and state grants that have been obtained by the Resource Institute Inc. It is a Winston-Salem non-profit organization that Mount Airy officials contracted with in 2011 to seek outside funding for the connector.

The extra money needed will address a badly eroded area at the confluence of the two local waterways and sections along Lovills Creek which have needed attention in recent years, according to city Public Services Director Jeff Boyles.

Boyles added that the municipality has learned of an opportunity to obtain the additional $300,000 from the state government.

As part of the application process, city officials were asked to approve the resolution stating the need for the funding to complete the connector work.

City personnel have worked in recent months to secure property easements along the connector route and oversee planning and design tasks for the project.

The Ararat River and Emily B. Taylor greenways provide an economic impact of $578,585 per year to the community, according to a recent study by the N.C. Department of Commerce and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.