While 2020 will go down in history as a bad year in many respects, it has been a good one where grant funding for the Granite City Greenway in Mount Airy is concerned.
This includes the recent awarding of $350,000 from the N.C. Parks and Recreation Trust Fund to assist in extending the city’s greenway network north from Riverside Park. This is known as Phase IV of an overall effort that earlier included linking the Emily B. Taylor and Ararat River greenways.
The project in Mount Airy was one of 17 across the state to be awarded Parks and Recreation Trust Fund grants, according to a city official. Parks and Recreation Director Darren Lewis added that this was out of a total of 66 grant applications.
“Mount Airy was fortunate to have been selected, as many outstanding grant projects were left unfunded since the trust fund only had $5.2 million allocated,” Lewis explained regarding the total assistance available for localities.
In Mount Airy’s case, the money will aid in the addition of 1.2 miles of greenway north from the trail’s present ending point at Riverside Park to the area of SouthData Inc. on Technology Lane off Riverside Drive.
It also will provide amenities elsewhere along the greenway network, a 10-foot-wide asphalt pathway presently covering nearly seven continuous miles from Riverside Park to a southern loop around the city and then northerly to West Lebanon Street.
Those will include three adult fitness stations adjacent to Mount Airy High School, Mount Airy Middle School and B.H. Tharrington Primary School. Also planned is a water hydrology education pocket park to include three single picnic shelters and signage.
Lewis said the picnic shelters will be of the single-family variety.
Another good thing about the $350,000 Parks and Recreation Trust Fund grant is that while awardees typically must match funding received dollar for dollar, Mount Airy has avoided this requirement. It will be met through assistance secured previously by The Resource Institute, a Winston-Salem-based organization that has helped the city land grants for various greenway efforts over the years.
“This will not be a match for the city of Mount Airy,” Lewis said of such an obligation on its part.
The recent $350,000 grant comes on the heels of other funding totaling $950,000 awarded to the municipality from the state Clean Water Management Trust Fund ($500,000) and Division of Water Resources ($450,000).
Lewis said the estimated cost of the greenway phase presently being undertaken is $1.3 million, for river restoration, new greenway construction and some site amenities.
“They are hoping to start river restoration fairly soon,” he advised during a meeting of the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners last week, with the greenway to be developed within 18 months.
City Manager Barbara Jones had high praise for Lewis at that meeting, recalling that former Parks and Recreation Director Catrina Alexander was extremely adept at securing outside grants.
She said Lewis, who took over that position in April 2018, also has proven to have quite a knack for grantsmanship, thus avoiding funding for projects having to come from municipal revenues.
In highlighting the latest grant opportunity, he pointed out that it will enhance the city government’s mission of building a healthier community through parks, programs and partnerships.
Along with providing a venue for local walkers, runners and cyclists, the greenway system has become a regional tourism destination, the parks and recreation director stressed.
Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.