FVR President Beth Heile opened the meeting explaining how the gathering came to be and the purpose. In the past few months, people have brought forth ideas of how to make the park better. Mike Bachelder, who volunteers almost daily at the park picking up trash and fallen branches, had ideas of cleaning the white fence and possible trails. Rose and Will Mueller had mentioned needing a picnic area at the bottom of the falls. Peter Skelton, and some others, had suggested building steps to the bottom of the falls. Spence Borden had suggested signage.
Also, Valdese Lakeside Park will soon be connected to McGalliard Falls Park with a suspension bridge completing the greenway trail. This will bring more attention and traffic to both parks and any improvements that can be made to McGalliard Falls Park will be a plus. McGalliard Falls is already the most searched for item on the town’s web site – let’s make sure people enjoy their visit.
With the suggestions from the community and the greenway coming soon, it seemed time to get those who are passionate about McGalliard Falls Park together. The final driver was the announcement of a grant opportunity. Parks that received an LWCF grant in the past are able to apply for money again to maintain/spruce up that park. Thankfully, the town has a Valdese Parks & Recreation Comprehensive Development Plan that details some future improvements at the park that can be used in the grant application.
The purpose of the meeting was to create a list of improvements and find a way to make them happen.
Parks and Recreation Director Doug Knight explained the department has ideas for the park and wants to do improvements, such as a wedding gazebo, but often the CIP (Capital Improvement Plan) budget goes to larger items such as the pool resurfacing this year and the basketball floor next year and there is nothing left each year for medium size projects. Doug also shared some of the history of the park and improvements made in the last few years (picnic tables, shelter rehab, fence, parking lot, etc).
Attendees shared their ideas and concerns while gathered at the shelter. Then, they walked the grounds of the park to make sure everyone was on the same page about locations of features that had been discussed. Here is a summary of what attendees would like to see happen.
Remove 3 large trees that could fall and damage the Grist Mill. Hopefully, the town can find money for this soon since it is almost an “emergency.”
Signage – Educational and Directional – Educational signs explaining both the History of the Meytre Grist Mill and how grist mills work. Directional – to falls, overlooks, grist mill, restrooms, greenway to Valdese Lakeside Park, etc.
Steps to Bottom of Falls – The group agreed that the path getting to the grist mill was acceptable. However, the left turn you make to get to the bottom of the falls, needs steps.
Small Footbridge at Bottom of Falls to Picnic Area – Once at the bottom of the falls, there is an island that would make a great picnic area and give a straight on view of the falls. Since this area is covered in water after heavy rains, it was decided not to have picnic tables there – people can bring blankets. But, a footbridge should be built and the area cleared of brush.
Pergola or Gazebo – in grassy area at concrete pipes for weddings close to the falls. There would also be a need for plantings to frame out the view.
Easier access to overlook – at the picnic shelter – It may be expensive to change the grade to 8% ADA compliant (OK for long term plan) but for short term, we will look at cleaning up the area to make it easier for people to access
Hammocks – around grassy area near creek. They may not last, but whimsical idea.
Creek Trail on backside of creek – not sure this is the town’s property.
Easier Access to Greenway/Valdese Lakeside Park – this is steep for all people
Grist Mill – Still getting info
A workday will take place in May before the Fishing Day to clean the fence, work on access to the overlook and other projects.
Stay tuned for more info as the details of implementing the list is worked out. We may have a donor for some of the wood needed for the pergola/gazebo. FVR, the Bridge Crew and Scouts could be volunteer labor.
Attendees: Rose and Will Mueller, Mike Bachelder, Tyler, Gretchen Costner – Director, Waldensian Heritage Museum, Morrissa Angi – Director, Community Affairs & Tourism, Madeleine Epley – Assistant Director CA&T, Doug Knight – Director, Parks and Recreation, Spence Borden – FVR Board Member, Beth Heile – FVR Board Member