By Jesse Wood
Just in time for the 39th annual Woolly Worm Festival, the Town of Banner Elk completed its beautification and streetscaping project at the elk statue in the downtown district.
The project serves as a “lovely” pedestrian access to the historic Banner Elk School, as Mayor Brenda Lyerly described it earlier this summer, and consists of a circular landscaping and streetscaping of flowers and rocks.
For the festive, fall season, harvest colors, hay bales and pumpkins decorate the base of the statue.
The Town of Banner Elk owes thanks to Elaine Wold, a community member and Elk River resident who has a history of supporting the town. In fact, she and her late husband donated this elk statue to the town nearly 15 years ago in 2002.
A few months after the town acquired the old school for about $1 million from the Avery County Board of Commissioners, Mayor Lyerly announced that Wold donated $100,000 for this project.
This summer, Wold also donated the corner property at Main Street/N.C. 194 and Shawneehaw Avenue. The corner property used to house a building that served as a restaurant before being vacant for the past several years.
Wold grew tired of this abandoned property. Through her donation, the Town of Banner Elk was able to purchase the property and demolish the structure.
“Removing the vacant structure has transformed that corner into a beautiful space for everyone to enjoy, which was Mrs. Wold’s vision,” said town manager Rick Owen in a release earlier this week. “The town staff and town council are excited to continue working with Mrs. Wold and her representatives to further implement the park’s master plan.”
Grass has been planted, so folks can enjoy the greenspace during the very busy Wolly Worm Festival in downtown Banner Elk, which takes place on the same weekend as the Valle Country Fair, also off of N.C. 194 in Valle Crucis. This is the busiest weekend of the year for the High Country.
The town has just finalized architectural plans and donor opportunities for the new “Corner on Main” park.
Here’s how the park is envisioned moving forward, according to an excerpted release from the town:
The design calls for an inviting green space anchored on the north end by a stone clock tower with chime and on the south end by a covered colonnade seating area with benches.
Other design features include: brick paver pathways, planter beds, a rock retaining wall, lamp posts, benches and an elk statue across Main Street near the Chamber of Commerce.
There are 26 design features available for naming rights. Mrs. Wold kicked off the process by making a donation to fund the clock tower, which will be completed by late spring, 2017.
Owen said there is no timetable for construction or installation of the remaining design elements. Because the park is privately financed, donations will dictate that.