Local recreation enthusiasts who are looking forward to the connecting of Mount Airy’s two greenways will have to wait until 2015, according to the present timetable for the project.
An update was presented by Charles Anderson of the Resource Institute Inc. during a meeting of the city board of commissioners Thursday night.
Anderson said the Resource Institute — a Winston-Salem organization contracted last year by the city government to secure grant funding for the connector and related river restoration — is gearing its fundraising toward a 2015-2016 target.
“That’s our projected date for completion,” Anderson said of connecting Mount Airy’s Emily B. Taylor and Ararat River greenways. “If money comes sooner, it will be completed sooner.”
The Resource Institute played a key role in securing funding for the construction of the first phase of the Ararat River Greenway. This provided for restoration of the badly eroded waterway along with a trail running between Riverside Park and an area near B.H. Tharrington Primary School.
Under the second phase, another two-mile greenway segment is to be constructed to connect it to the Emily B. Taylor Greenway. The second phase also will include another mile of stream restoration for the Ararat River, Anderson said.
The 2.2-mile connecting segment will be 10 feet wide and extend from the southern end of the Emily B. Taylor Greenway at Worth Street downstream along Lovills Street to its confluence with the Ararat River. The asphalt trail then will proceed upstream along the Ararat and end at Tharrington Park at the southern end of its greenway along the river.
Commissioner Jon Cawley asked at Thursday night’s meeting how the connector would cross major roadways such as U.S. 52 and was told by Anderson that a tunneling system would be used, similar to the Taylor pathway.
The project is expected to cost between $4.1 million and $4.5 million, but Anderson said grants exceeding that amount are being sought. “We’re requesting these dollars,” he said, not knowing if all will be available.
So far, $3.1 million is in hand, including a $2.2 million grant awarded for the project by the N.C. Department of Transportation; $430,000 from the city government allocated over a four-year period; and another $400,000 grant.
Anderson is optimistic about additional grants being sought over the next few years. “We feel very good about the next phase,” he said of the project overall.
City Manager Barbara Jones said the municipality is confident that much “hard work” has been invested in the project by Anderson and the Resource Institute.
It also was noted at Thursday night’s meeting that grant funding is much harder to come by now than in the past.
Reach Tom Joyce at 719-1924 or firstname.lastname@example.org.