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Granite Quarry bike enthusiasts make case for pump track, trails

GRANITE QUARRY — A standing-room-only crowd packed the Granite Quarry Board of Aldermen’s meeting room Monday night, and most of the spectators were there to support a bicycle pump track and trails on town-owned property off Faith Road.

Many of the youths and adults in the crowd rode their bicycles to the meeting at Town Hall.

By a 3-2 vote, the town board agreed to grant the Granite Quarry Athletic Club access to the property to start work on building a pump track — circuitous ovals of undulating paths — and additional trails for both biking and walking.

“These folks need a bicycle park,” Garry Mattingly said to loud shouts and applause.

The town property is adjacent to Marcel Renn’s in the 2400 block of Faith Road.

Mattingly and Jason Smith spoke on behalf of the athletic club, which says it will  support, build and maintain a pump track and trails without the town’s shouldering a dollar of the cost.

In their presentations, the men showed photographs and videos of bicycle trails at Salisbury Community Park, along with the pump trail and trails at Greensboro’s Keeley Park.

Mattingly, owner of Slice of Heaven pizza in Granite Quarry, said not one person who came to the meeting on a bicycle was looking at his or her cellphone.

“Just an observation,” he said.

The club representatives asked for two things: for the town to grant members access to the property and to give the club a commitment of time over which it can build the track, trails and other amenities, while also applying for grants.

A particular time period was not granted Monday night.

Business sponsors, individuals and volunteers already are on board, Mattingly said. He added the starting point for building trails might be as simple as using leaf blowers and tree markers to designate paths through wooded areas.

The group already has design drawings on how a pump track, trails and parking could fit on the property.

Smith said some lawn care companies have volunteered to keep the property mowed, another company has offered timber for fencing and a church’s mission group has volunteered to work on the site for a week this summer to help with building trails.

Some bicycle enthusiasts from Salisbury also were in the audience to show support for the Granite Quarry Athletic Club’s proposal, including Eric Phillips, owner of Skinny Wheels bike shop on West Innes Street.

Mayor Pro Tem Jim LaFevers and Alderman Jim Costantino voted for a motion to give the club access to the town property. Aldermen Kim Cress and John Linker voted against the motion.

Mayor Bill Feather broke the tie in favor of granting the club access.

Both Linker and Cress stressed they are for recreation and were excited about the enthusiasm and seeing the large crowd at Monday’s meeting.

“I’m just a little cautious that we have all the i’s dotted and the t’s crossed,” Linker said, adding he “just wants to do it right.”

“We’re all winners then,” he said.

Feather said even with Monday’s vote, the town must work over the next couple of weeks to come up with a formal agreement with the athletic club, which is an incorporated nonprofit group with the state, according to its representatives.

“Being incorporated makes it a whole lot easier,” Town Attorney Chip Short said.

Cress and Linker raised questions about the town’s liability, safety, connectivity to other parks and neighborhoods in Granite Quarry, environmental concerns within a flood plain, access off Faith Road, signage, parking, restrooms and policing.

Cress asked how the club expects to keep people off the property when it is supposed to be closed.

“All I’m trying to do is make you think,” Cress said of the many issues he raised.

He also recommended that the club come up with a clear mission statement, have guidelines and set goals.

Smith said the property will not be lighted and would probably be open until dusk. The town will hardly lose any income in property taxes if it wanted to sell the property instead, Smith also noted.

Smith and Mattingly said there is plenty of room for parking — for 20 to 25 cars — and Smith mentioned there could be some connectivity possibilities through a subdivision at the rear of the site.

Contact Mark Wineka at 704-797-4263.

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