Construction is expected to soon begin on the long-in-the-making Rock Springs Nature Preserve, a conservation-themed project in eastern Lincoln County.
Parks and Recreation Director Erma Deen Hoyle told the Times-News Wednesday that, after being delayed due to the weather, work should start on the 116-acre park next week.
The park has been presented as an opportunity to both preserve and enhance the local water quality, while also providing a natural setting for recreational and educational activities for residents of the county.
The Board of Commissioners signed off on a $819,200 contract for construction with J.D. Goodrum Company on Feb. 4.
The site plan for the preserve, designed to be a “passive” park, includes a picnic shelter, playground, outdoor classroom (amphitheater), trails, wildlife-viewing area and restroom facilities. These are encompassed within Phase I of the project, to run along Pine Ridge Drive in Denver.
Construction on this phase – which will also entail site clearing, grading, erosion control, paving, landscape planting, water and sewer systems, site signage, among others — is estimated to be completed by November, with a spring 2014 opening date.
“The idea for the park originated with discussions in 2006 and 2007 concerning source-water protection and reducing sediment pollution in Lake Norman,” Hoyle said. “Individuals from Lincoln County Soil and Water and the Lincoln County Natural Resources Committee met and developed a Source Water Protection Plan (in conjunction with the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources) for the county.”
“A park protecting the source water for Lincoln County was one of the recommendations in the plan,” she added. “Three streams flowing through the Rock Springs Nature Preserve empty into Little Creek Cove, the location of Lincoln County’s water intake. Such a park would also be an ideal location for environmental-education projects and class field trips.”
The county purchased the property in 2008, using both a $500,000 Parks and Recreation Trust Fund (PARTF) Grant and a $1.6 million loan through the N.C. Source Water Program, Hoyle said.
A $50,000 Wildlife Enhancement Grant from Duke Energy helped to cover some of the design and development costs, with an additional PARTF Grant of $415,000 also awarded to the county in October 2011.
Following completion of Phase I, Hoyle said the county will begin the development of trails further into the property. The target date for this second stage of the project to be under way is in spring of 2014.