Land Closing a Success

The Town of Valdese owns 300 acres on Lake Rhodhiss. Closing finalized on January 31, 2018! This was not your regular house closing – so many complications.

Many thanks to: Rostan Family Foundation, Kellex Seating, CHS-BR, Town of Valdese, Town Council, Tom and Susie at Foothills Conservancy of NC, Doug Knight, Seth Eckard, Damon, Erin, PARTF, CWMTF, FVR Board, and everyone who has supported FVR and donated to the park.

Valdese Lakeside Park Thank You Slides used at  Nov 3 Celebration


Trees for Splash Park

With membership dues, FVR had Settlemyre Nursery install 8 Celestial Shadow Dogwoods around the splash park. 3 on Hill Street side, 4 on Laurel St side and one in front of the Massel Ave building. We depend on dues to help with projects, plantings, events. Join or Renew Today.

100% of Pledges Received

We are very grateful for our donors who committed and followed through. That’s $55,581 in donations from regular folks, small businesses and clubs. Valdese people know how to make things happen.


Destination By Design Gets Overloaded

Destination by Design came to town to get a summary of the ideas we have been collecting at our focus group meetings. We had sessions with

That was a lot of information to hand over. Thanks to public input, we are really narrowing down what will be the best feature set for the citizens of Valdese to enjoy. This will be the People’s Park!

Destination by Design brought a new map that includes all the setbacks required by the CWMTF grant. Nothing 100 feet from creeks/lake and mainly just trails 300 feet from water.

Citizen Input for Park

With the amazing opportunity to build a park from scratch, we want to make sure we get it right. Getting input from citizens and specialty groups seems to be a smart way to start the plan.

Disc golfers from clubs in Burke and Catawba Counties got together to talk about features they like most in the courses they play. They have also walked the land to make sure that they think in their heads will work at the park.

Coming from Burke and Caldwell Counties, mountain bike riders, coaches and shop owners met to discuss the possibilities the land holds. They will be visiting the land soon to look for special feature areas and verify all skill levels can be represented.

Regular folks are also an important category.  Locals may use just one amenity regularly or may use all amenities a little bit. But, they also have the feel of Valdese and what will work for our citizens.

In January, trail and cross country runners will be the next group to gather.

The park planner will collect all the feedback and in March will present a close to final plan with options.

Park Painting

It has been over a year since FVR volunteers painted the main Children’s Park Building. That still looks great. However, with the new park upgrades, the fascia boards needed to be painted in advance of new gutters being installed.

Luckily for us, November provided a warm afternoon and 5 volunteers got the boards scrapped and painted in about an hour.

Drainage is being corrected, parking lot has been resurfaced, new picnic tables added, new sign and new batting cage are all in the works.

Park Planner Walks Property

On Friday, November 17, four personnel from  Destination by Design came to Valdese.  The visit started at Town Hall, where they met with Town Department heads to hear concerns about rescue, zoning, water access, maintenance and the like.

Chris Wood with with the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission discussed an ADA kayak/canoe launch and fishing pier that would be funded by the Commission. Chris is also getting contacts for help to clean up all the trash in the water.

DbD then walked the property to understand the the implications and parameters of the CWMTF easements. Tom Kenney with Foothills Conservancy of NC was there is answer any questions since he completed the winning N.C. Clean Water Management Trust Fund application. There are limitations on creek crossing for mountain bikers, endangered plants that need to be protected and more.

For more pictures.

Celebration Reception

Community working together to make something happen was the theme of Friends of the Valdese Rec’s Celebration Friday, Nov 3rd.
The reception was held to thank all those involved with helping the Town of Valdese acquire 300 acres of land on Lake Rhodhiss for a passive park. Though the primary partners in this 2.5 year project are Friends of the Valdese Rec, Town of Valdese and Foothills Conservancy of NC, it has taken the help and support of many people and organizations along the way. Each speaker during the evening touched on the importance of community involvement that led to the success of getting to $1.4 million (in grants and donations) to purchase the land.
The program included remarks from Valdese Mayor Chip Black who spoke about the economic impact the park would have on the area. He noted Valdese Lakeside Park was in line with the strategies recently released in the WPCOG’s Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy. Mayor Black was first approached by Beth Heile and Roy Sweezy in February 2015, just a few weeks after being appointed mayor, to ask for his support for the project.
Representative Hugh Blackwell, who was thanked for writing letters of support to the grant officials, stated he was impressed with what a community working together could accomplish.
Major donor Chris Rice, Kellex President, said he made the decision to support the park project after he attended a town luncheon in February 2017. With several members of the Kellex family present for the celebration, Mr. Rice talked about how the completed park would help with recruitment of talented staff and that it was the right thing to do for Kellex’s local workforce, the citizens of Valdese and the environment.
Recruitment was also a reason Carolinas HealthCare System BlueRidge COO Jon Mercer stated for the hospital’s backing of the park. Key factors also included, their goal of working to create healthy citizens and following their slogan of Friends and Neighbors taking care of Friends and Neighbors.
In addition to politicians and donors, professionals in the field of conservation shared their thoughts on the project. Foothills Conservancy of North Carolina’s Tom Kenney played a major role in guiding the Town and FVR through the land acquisition. He helped design a funding plan, negotiated the purchase contract and wrote the Clean Water Trust Fund Management Grant that provided $673,247. From the beginning, Tom was impressed with the beauty of the property and the long view down Lake Rhodhiss to Table Rock.
Damon Hearn, Western Field Representative of the Clean Water Management Trust Fund Grant traveled from Asheville for the event. He said he has never seen a community work so hard together and it showed Valdese really wanted the park land. His team felt this project was perfect for funding with the recreational opportunities that will be available for the region.
Doug Knight, Valdese Parks and Recreation Director, thanked organizations such as FVR, Town Council, Grant Officials and specifically noted the Rostan Family Foundation. The Foundation continues to give back to make our community better with the recent Valdese Family Splash Park and now Valdese Lakeside Park.
Beth Heile, Friends of the Valdese Rec spoke about what is next in the process. She said even though we have worked hard to reach this major milestone, we can’t stop now. We must continue to raise money for amenities and find ways to complete Valdese Lakeside Park by Fall 2020. The urgency is the take advantage of new jobs coming to the area (NCSSM opening in 2021, Continental’s 160 new jobs over next 5 years, Meridan’s 25 new jobs over 5 years, the new Kellex Hogan Street factory will add 35-50 associates) and be a prime choice for that workforce’s home. Studies show people like to live near greenspace and with 300 acres, Valdese will have that to offer.
Mrs. Heile said the master park plan is under way by Destination by Design. In March, those who have donated to the park will be able to review a draft and make suggestions. Prices of features will be included to show how items could be added in phases or how it may be more cost effective to add everything at once. Proposed features include a 2-mile trail connecting McGalliard Falls Park to future picnic area near Wastewater Treatment Plant with exercise stations and benches, mountain bike trails and pump track, disc golf course, kayak launch, picnic area, dock for views and fishing, outdoor classroom.
The evening was not all presentations. A social started the event with hors d’oeuvres, punch and wine made by FVR members and friends. During the social, a slide show thanking people and aerial footage of the park by Tony Glenn were shown. The décor was an outdoor theme – with log slices, sedum, pine cones, leaves and moss as centerpieces and throughout. Door prizes were given at the end of the evening.
On the wall, paper leaves around trees acknowledged the donors. Along with the large pledges for the land from Rostan Family Foundation ($300,000) and Kellex ($100,000), CHS-BR has pledged $50,000 for park amenities. When you include the amount of donations from 70 individuals, $100,000 has been raised so for for amenities. Again, this shows the community working together to make something happen.
If you would like to donate to Valdese Lakeside Park amenities, visit the group’s web site for the form to mail in or the Paypal link.
The purpose of Friends of the Valdese Rec, an all-volunteer, 501(c)(3) tax-exempt nonprofit corporation, is to support the Valdese Parks and Recreation Department with volunteer hours and fundraising for the betterment of the Department, while at the same time benefiting the town, the citizens and the environment. Board members are Beth Heile, Roy Sweezy, Mark Rostan, Sandy Terrell, Don Brittain, Sonni Dyer and Andy Byers.

Join us on Friday, November 3 to celebrate the acquisition of 300 acres on Lake Rhodhiss. We want to recognize and thank all those who believed in this project and energize those who are still learning about the park.

We will start the evening at 5:30 socializing with drinks and hors d’oeuvres. During this time, be sure to check out the Aerial Video of the land by Tony Glenn, the wall of donors and the slide show.

At 6:00, we will start a short program with speakers-

Doug Knight, Parks and Rec Director at Town of Valdese
Tom Kenney, Land Protection Director at Foothills Conservancy
Jon Mercer, COO at Carolinas HealthCare System Blue Ridge
Chris Rice, President at Kellex Seating
Beth Heile, President – Friends of the Valdese Rec, Inc.

We will close the night with door prizes (wine, books, outdoor supplies) and more socializing.


Friends of the Valdese Rec, Inc. is a 501(c)3 organization. Donations are tax-deductible.

Event Location: Valdese Old Rock School, Waldensian Room