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Rock Springs Park nearing completion, March opening, in eastern Lincoln County

ELIZABETH HEFFNER

Staff Writer

Lincoln County residents should be looking forward to a new park opening this spring.

According to Lincoln County Parks and Recreation Director Erma Deen Hoyle, Rock Springs Park will be the seventh addition to the park system in Lincoln County.

Hoyle said the idea for developing the park off of Pine Ridge Drive stemmed from a state project working to improve water quality and protection.

“The property has three streams that feed into the cove where Lincoln County Water’s intake is located on Lake Norman,” Hoyle said. “It’s very important to keep these streams in good condition. This project came about when there was a lot of development in the area, and there was a program through the state of North Carolina for source water protection. There was a committee for the county and they developed a program-like plan. And one of the features of the plan was to purchase property to protect that source water. When they found out…that this particular piece of property was available, the park kind of grew from there.”

In 2008, the land was purchased with a $500,000 grant from the Parks and Recreation Trust Fund and a $1.6 million loan from the Source Water Protection Program, a program established through the North Carolina Department of Natural Resources.

In 2011, the Lincoln County Parks and Recreation Department received a $415,000 grant to go toward the construction of the first active phase, which is currently under construction, comprised of eight acres along the front portion of the property, along Pine Ridge Drive. The first active phase includes the construction of a picnic shelter, restroom facilities, playground equipment, parking, a .4 mile walking trail that is a combination of pavement and gravel, a small amphitheater and an outdoor classroom area.

Hoyle said the construction started in 2013, and they expect to host a grand opening in late March.

“The only large item left to do is the playground equipment, which the county will be contracting shortly with that,” Hoyle said. “We wanted a spring opening so people can use the trail and enjoy it throughout the summer. The picnic area, I’m sure, will be a popular item along with the playground and walking trail.”

The actual parcel of property is 116 acres. The second phase of development will be to construct a trails network through the bulk of the property. According to Hoyle, the trails work will be done through a combination of volunteers and staff.

Lincoln County Parks and Recreation has also been working with the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation with one of their programs called Track Trails. The trail portion of Rock Springs Park is located on the Carolina Thread Trail.

“The Carolina Thread Trail is a 15-county regional trails network effort,” Hoyle said. “The goal is to be able to link a region — so if you have a trail network in Gaston County, you’d be able to link up to the trail networks in Lincoln County, Mecklenburg, Cleveland to west and South Carolina to the south. Their goal is to have a lot of miles for regional residents to hike and to walk.”

Hoyle encourages kids to enroll online to be a member of Track Trails and take part.

“It’s a great opportunity for them to have hiking experiences throughout Western North Carolina,” she said.

There are currently six active parks in Lincoln County: West Lincoln Park, Vale Recreation Park, McBee Street Park, East Lincoln Park, West Lincoln Park and Beatty’s Ford Park. According to Hoyle, the Parks and Recreation Department is also working with the Denver and Lake Norman Rotary Foundation to develop the Rescue Squad Park in Denver. The park would sit on 32 acres, housing a multi-purpose shelter and concessions building, parking lot, sidewalks, soccer fields, open play areas, a dog park and site lighting. Rescue Squad Park would also be the new location for the Denver Farmer’s Market. At this time, the county is currently taking bids for the project.

Those interested in learning more about Rocks Springs Park and Rescue Squad Park can visit the county’s website at www.lincolncounty.org or call (704) 748-1518.

 

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