New city rec facilities planned

By Tom Joyce -

The city of Mount Airy has kicked off a process for adding more elements to its two greenways, including a picnic/restroom facility and a Little League field.

Bids are being sought from construction firms for an overall project with major features to include an outdoor picnic area and prefabricated restroom facility along the Emily Taylor Greenway near West Independence Boulevard.

Also planned is a new Little League baseball practice field beside the Ararat River Greenway at Tharrington Elementary School.

A notice to bidders states that the overall project “includes but is not limited to” those items. City Parks and Recreation Director Catrina Alexander said Thursday that another feature is planned for a greenway area at the confluence of Lovills Creek and the Ararat River at Carter Street.

It has been described as an “overlook pocket park,” which Alexander said is to include benches and signage — “just an educational opportunity there.”

She is excited about the new facilities, which will provide further enhancements to a network that included the opening of a 2.2-mile connector for the two greenways last year.

“I think it will be a great addition to what we already have,” the parks and recreation director said. “I think it will make a big impact.”

Picnic area

Alexander mentioned that the picnic/restroom area on the Taylor greenway is planned for an area behind the Roses shopping center which is a greenway access point. She said this will allow trail users, for example, to obtain food from nearby restaurant or deli establishments they can take back to the “nice little picnic tables” that are to be installed.

This will allow them to combine a dining experience with their exercise experience.

Alexander said the permanent restroom facility is to be located behind Lowes Foods and will be similar to one at H.B. Rowe Environmental Park near the Ararat River Greenway.

She believes the new features will attract additional greenway users.

“The more people we have on the trail the better,” Alexander said, which will make it safer and otherwise improved.

Grant supplying funding

A grant awarded to Mount Airy by the North Carolina Parks and Recreation Trust Fund within the past two years is funding the new facilities.

It was targeted mainly for the greenway connector construction, but also was to provide extra amenities along the way including the baseball facility at Tharrington Park and others planned.

The grant required local matching funds, which Alexander says was met with other grant money the city received from the N.C. Department of Transportation for the connector project.

As a result, local taxpayers’ funding participation is “minimal,” she said, limited to staff time and similar expenses.

“We’re ready to get it done,” the parks and recreation director said of the project to provide the new elements, for which the deadline for sealed bids is June 14. “We hope to get it done in this calendar year.”

By Tom Joyce

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

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

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