Mount Airy’s greenway network is getting some “green” from the state government in the form of a $500,000 grant from the N.C. Division of Water Resources.
City officials were notified in late October of the grant award for Phase VIII of the Ararat River Stream Restoration Project. It will aid further restoration of the river and the building of the next leg of the greenway system along that waterway.
Specifically, the financial assistance provided by the Division of Water Resources will be used to restore about 2,824 linear feet of the streambank and for associated greenway construction.
In the wake of a 2.2-mile connector being completed in 2016 to link the Emily B. Taylor and Ararat River greenways, Mount Airy officials have been planning a northern greenway extension. It will begin at Riverside Park, linking to the Ararat River segment at that point and leading to J.J. Jones Intermediate School.
This will add to Mount Airy’s present greenway system now totaling just under seven miles, a paved pathway stretching from West Lebanon Street which loops around the southern portion of the city and then extends north to Riverside Park. The entire system officially is known as the Granite City Greenway and is popular among walkers, cyclists and runners.
The $500,000 grant from the Division of Water Resources represents only a portion of funds needed for the upcoming trail extension and stream restoration.
Originally, the project had a $5.7 million price tag for an initial plan that called for extending the greenway further north to the White Sulphur Springs resort outside the city limits. However, the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners voted in April to revise that route to end at Jones Intermediate School, after property owner complaints.
No updated figure was available at that time for the shortened project due to design work not being completed, and it also was not readily accessible this week.
City Manager Barbara Jones referred questions about the estimated total cost at this time and grant totals received to Charles Anderson of The Resource Institute. It is a non-profit organization in Winston-Salem which for years has sought grants for greenway projects on Mount Airy’s behalf.
However, attempts to reach Anderson have been unsuccessful.
Last spring, during the meeting when the commissioners revised the route, Anderson said that about $1 million in grant funding had been secured at that time, which he added would not be affected by its shortening. Plans also were in the works at that point to seek the $500,000 in assistance from the N.C. Division of Water Resources, with Anderson saying that it and another grant being sought would raise the total to around $2 million.
“RI (The Resource Institute) is working hard to obtain grants,” Jones added this week.
In further commenting on the “great news” for the city in receiving the $500,000 award, the city manager commended the cooperative effort that helped make it possible:
“I want to extend thanks to Charles Anderson and the team at Resource Institute for their diligent work along with our city staff for the success of the restoration project and greenway that we currently have and with what is being planned.”
Mount Airy has committed $400,000 in local funds for the project over a four-year period, anticipating that the bulk of the money needed would come from grants.
Mayor David Rowe said Wednesday that he hopes “several” more will be approved.
Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.