Shovels broke the ground making it official! Construction is ready to begin at Valdese Lakeside Park on Phase 1 Amenities. To follow covid gathering restrictions, the groundbreaking ceremony was small and brief with the only comments being from Town of Valdese Mayor John Black.
Mayor Black closing remarks were actually predictions. He said, “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; 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.”
Holding one of the shovels, Representative Blackwell has been instrumental in recommending the project for state funding that is available to municipalities. He can also be spotted walking the trails at Valdese Lakeside Park several times a week. Blackwell introduced Congresswoman Virginia Foxx to attendees and started the discussion of federal funding opportunities available for the park project.
Major donors were represented at the event – Chris Rice with Kellex Seating, Brittany Dobbins with Carolinas Healthcare System – Blue Ridge and Mark Rostan with Rostan Family Foundation. Strong funding from these contributors so early in the process aided in grant awards for the park.
Acquiring the 300-acres of land on Lake Rhodhiss for a passive park was the driving force for Beth Heile starting the non-profit Friends of the Valdese Rec. Heile said, “This park is an incredible asset for our community. 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 $2.3M project with $1.5M 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 over 1400 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.
State grants include: CWMTF $673,247 for land purchase, PARTF $300,000 for land purchase, DEQ $200,000 for greenway and parking, PARTF $285,000 for amenities.