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Spencer could use cash on hand to start Yadkin trailhead project

SPENCER — Spencer is approaching a major goal to develop a trailhead on the Rowan County side of the Wil-Cox Bridge.

Town Manager Peter Franzese said a committee discussing development of park facilities on both sides of the bridge will return to in-person meetings on Friday morning to discuss the Rowan County portion. After a year of virtual meetings, Franzese said the town is making preliminary steps to start the first phase of development on the Rowan side.

The North Carolina Department of Transportation gave the town right-of-way access on the Rowan side of the bridge, and Spencer Projects Planner Joe Morris said the town has about $135,000 on hand for the project, which could fund the first phase of development. The town intends to apply for an N.C. Recreational Trails Program grant for $100,000.

If the town is awarded the grant, it would need to provide a $25,000 match. Franzese said the grant will be discussed on Friday and there will be an update on its status during the Board of Aldermen’s regular meeting on Tuesday. On Friday, a designer will also update the group on concepts and plans for the site.

Morris said the first phase of the project would include signage, landscaping, grading and gravel to get the trail installed and some on-site parking. Cash Spencer has for the project has been largely raised by Friends of Rowan, which has been involved with the park for years, and a grant from the Robertson Family Foundation.

Morris said the project will go to bid before construction work starts. The goal is to have an initial trail open late summer or early fall.

Morris described the project as incremental. Additions will occur as the town is able to secure funding and include amenities such as benches.

Morris said he met with an N.C. Parks Service official in March to discuss grant options, the same day Friends of Rowan donated $150,000 from Friends of Rowan to build a dog park, install sidewalks and additional parking on the Davidson side of the bridge.

Before the meeting, the town was interested in a Parks and Recreation Trust Fund grant to find additional funding for the Rowan side of the bridge. A PARTF grant was used to fund development on the Davidson side of the bridge. On Tuesday, Morris said PARTF grants require at least three recreational components. The trail grant, however, focuses specifically on trail development.

The trail would be at the convergence of two trail systems: the Piedmont Legacy Trail and the Carolina Thread Trail, which connect through. The area is also part of the Yadkin River State Trail.

Yadkin River Park has trails, picnic tables, bridge and river access on site along with historic locations.

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