By Jesse Wood
Nov. 30, 2012. The new Watauga County Board of Commissioners will settle into their roles at its first regularly-scheduled meeting on Monday, Dec. 3.
After the formalities, the board will hear from Eric Woolridge, the Watauga County Tourism Development Authority’s outdoor recreation planner, regarding proposals for a beginners mountain bike trail at the Brookshire area and a trail project in Valle Crucis.
Brookshire Mountain Bike and Running Trail
The proposed mountain bike and running trail is intended to compliment the trail systems at the Rocky Knob Mountain Bike Park, where trails are more advanced. The project, which requires no monies from the county, would be funded from $10,000 worth of grant funds from the N.C. Adopt-a-Trail Program and additional, private funds from Boone Area Cyclists and Watauga County Pathways.
If created, the trail would provide new access to the north section of the county’s Brookshire tract, where the Ted Mackorell Soccer Complex and Brookshire Park exist.
Board action is not required, but in January, Woolridge will return to the board for approval of submitting the grant.
Valle Crucis Trail Project
The purpose of the proposed Historic Valle Crucis Trail project is to provide a “safer walking environment in Valle Crucis and to promote interconnection to commercial businesses, the school and park facilities” according to Woolridge.
The nearly one-mile trail project will link Valle Crucis Park, the Original Mast General Store, Valle Landing, Valle Crucis Elementary School, and the Mast General Store Annex. (See map below.)
Watauga County Pathways (WCP), Valle Crucis Community Council, Valle Crucis Park and Mast General Store have partnered to construct the trail. WCP has submitted an application to the North Carolina Recreation Trails Program Grant for $200,000, which requires a $50,000 match.
According to Woolridge, “If awarded the grant, WCP would use the donated easements form Valle Crucis Community Council, Valle Crucis Park, and Mast General Store to satisfy the $50,000 match.”
All pertinent landowners have signed statements of intent to donate trail easements. The grant requires local government support and thus a public hearing and endorsement by the board.
“Finally, it is my recommendation that Watauga County hold the trail easements for this project, which would guarantee appropriate insurance coverage,” Woolridge said in the packet. “WCP can hold the easements, but would rather not hold land due to associated insurance costs.”
Again like the Brookshire trail, this proposal and the application, which is due in early February, requires no immediate action, however the board will address the possible endorsement of the project in January.