VALDESE — Shovels broke ground making it official — construction is ready to begin at Valdese Lakeside Park on Phase 1 amenities.
To follow COVID-19 gathering restrictions, the groundbreaking ceremony on Nov.5 was small and brief with the only comments coming from town of Valdese Mayor Chip Black.
Black’s closing remarks at the ceremony came in the form of predictions.
“Before we put the shovels in the ground, I would offer this prediction: it is unlikely that future generations will fully appreciate the effort, both in time and money, that went into creating this park and green space,” Black said. “It will, however, be used and enjoyed by current and future generations… and I further predict that those of us standing here today will have grossly underestimated the value of this park for the economic, recreational and health benefits it will bring to our community.”
Among those holding the shovels were N.C. Rep. Hugh Blackwell (R-86), who has been instrumental in recommending the project for state funding that is available to municipalities. He also can be spotted walking the trails at Valdese Lakeside Park several times a week. Blackwell introduced U.S. Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-5) to attendees and started the discussion of federal funding opportunities available for the park project.
Major donors also were represented at the event — Chris Rice with Kellex Seating, Brittany Dobbins with Carolinas HealthCare System Blue Ridge, and Mark Rostan with the Rostan Family Foundation. Strong funding from the contributors very early in the process aided in grant awards for the park.
Acquiring 300 acres of land on Lake Rhodhiss for a passive park was the driving force for Beth Heile starting the nonprofit organization Friends of the Valdese Rec.
“This park is an incredible asset for our community,” Heile said. “When I started working on this project in 2015, I always knew we would get to this day. But I did not expect it to be this huge — breaking ground on a $2.3 million project with $1.5 million from state grants and $825,000 from private donations in our local community. Small-town initiative and energy made this park possible. I am proud to be a Valdese native”
In addition to donations, volunteers have logged more than 1,400 hours at Valdese Lakeside Park since the property closed in January 2018. Friends of the Valdese Rec mapping, marking and maintaining the trails and park has allowed it to be open to visitors since the land acquisition.
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