The Genesis of Yadkin River Greenway
The Greenway dream began, not on some planner's desk, but in the fertile imagination of radiologist Dr. Phil Carlson. After canoeing down the Yadkin with his son Ian, Dr. Carlson was struck by the beauty of the river that winds through the middle of our county's largest towns. Dr. Carlson shared his vision of a greenway with Dr. Tom Frazer, Dr. Larry Bennett and the late Becky Comer Mann. That canoe trip spawned the genesis of the Greenway's effort in 1994 and the first phase of the Greenway became a reality and opened May 18, 2002.
YADKIN RIVER GREENWAY
The History, Purpose, Goals and
Conception of the Yadkin River Greenway Council.
The idea for a greenway along the Yadkin River developed from a simple conversation among friends in 1994. This founding group began to informally work on the idea. Once money was raised for a feasibility study later that year, the study indicated that a greenway along the Yadkin River would be feasible, practical, and beneficial to the community. The group then expanded involvement into the community and community-minded citizens were invited to form the Yadkin River Green Council (YRGC). The YRGC began to raise monies from local governments and through fundraising activities to fund construction of a limited portion of the Greenway.
The YRGC then:
~Incorporated and obtained 501(c)3 non-profit status
~Obtained permission from landowners to proceed with surveys
~Participated in land clearing efforts
~Organized fundraising events
~Applied for and received a grant to fund an executive director and operational expenses
~Requested a place on the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) Improvement Plan (TIP)
~Met with all three local governmental boards and reached an agreement for an intergovernmental cooperation agreement.
A History of the Conception of the YRG and the Development of the Council and its Goals, Objectives, and Action Plan
Establish a network of linear open spaces to protect and link together valuable community resources throughout the Yadkin River Valley in Wilkes County. As part of the greenway development, several of the most famous historic and ecological kiosks located along the trail will explain the significance of these sites. One of these, for example, is the Overmountain Victory Trail (OVT). The OVT is where soldiers, on their way to King’s Mountain in South Carolina (link to OVT WEB SITE), defeated the British in a strategic battle that helped win the Revolution.
Expected quantifiable outcomes and results:
~Recreation/Health: Greenways promote healthier lifestyles by encouraging outdoor physical activity. The Greenway is purposely designed to be wheelchair/universally accessible. Baby strollers can move freely on the trail. Greenway Phases will link facilities such as Lowe’s River’s Edge Park soccer and softball fields to the W. Kerr Scott Reservoir, the YMCA, the Wellness Center, and the Cornerstone Church (old YMCA) gym facilities and to Cub Creek Park in Wilkesboro, and Memorial and Smoot Parks in North Wilkesboro along with other expansions as opportunities avail themselves.
~Environment: Visitors to the Greenway will be reconnected to the land and its natural treasures. Each of the four seasons provides a rich variety of flora and fauna. The Greenway will serve as a natural buffer helping to filter out pollutants that are collected by rainwater before they reach the river. Significant environmental benefits by the establishment of a riparian buffer along the rivers. The greenway will establish a riparian buffer which protects the environment and beauty of the Yadkin River Valley near greenway projects.
~Economic: Greenways are community amenities that make good business sense. Property values increase when associated with greenways. Quality of live, in an area, is more important than purely business-related factors when it comes to attracting new businesses. A seemingly small factor like a greenway can tip the decision balance as companies consider otherwise similar communities. Restaurants and other retail establishments flourish near greenway projects.
~Community Involvement: The YRGC, through its Volunteer Coordination Committee, has benefited greatly from the involvement of our community. Many hours of activities, work and involvement of community groups have added significantly to the beauty and enjoyment of the Greenway. Numerous community activities are held on the Greenway which provides a venue for activities such as walks and runs for fundraisers, Eagle and Gold scout projects, and garden club activities. Each Halloween nearly 15,000 people participate in a community wide “Trail of Treats” on the Greenway.
~Transportation: Unlike a typical walking track, a greenway actually goes somewhere! Thus it provides an alternative mode of transportation. The Greenway will follow the Yadkin River through the heart of the Wilkesboros, providing a safe way for people to travel to work, school or local shopping areas. Upon completion, the greenway will provide a trail system to be enjoyed by visitors. Providing an alternate means of transportation will relieve the automobile usage and pollution on Highway 268. The Yadkin River Greenway provides vital linkage of the Towns of Wilkesboro, North Wilkesboro, and facilities within Wilkes County and, as such, promotes alternate transportation.
~Tourism: The Greenway provides alternative access to tourism points of interest in the Wilkes are. The ultimate, long range, goal is to build a Greenway system that extends from Elkin to W. Kerr Scott Reservoir along the Yadkin. This will provide the citizens of and visitors to Wilkes County with a beautiful scenic trail system which offers educational and recreational opportunities.
~Anticipated Users: The Greenway is located at the center of an urban-suburban area with a total population over 10,000. The Greenway attracts a variety of users including bicycle commuters, people pursuing fitness, children, walkers, roller bladers, and those who want to get in touch with nature. The Greenway links shopping areas, a history museum and other historical sites, a 900 plus student middle school, a hospital wellness center and the two towns. When completed, the Greenway system will link major employers, educational institutions and parks.
~Governmental Support: The Yadkin River forms a natural boundary between the towns of Wilkesboro and North Wilkesboro, an historic divide that will now be bridged as a result of an intergovernmental agreement. The County of Wilkes and the two towns have continuously provided financial support to the Greenway and have been an integral part of its construction. The North Carolina Department of Transportation donated the construction plans and financing for the first portion of the Greenway and have been instrumental in the support of subsequent sections.