Public hearing set on Jonesville Greenway

By Kathy Chaffin -

JONESVILLE — Members of the Jonesville Tourism Development Authority want to hear from town residents about their ideas on a master plan for the greenway.

Authority members, at their meeting Tuesday afternoon, scheduled a public hearing on the greenway for Nov. 10 from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Yadkin Valley Senior Center at Lila Swaim Park.

Authority member Pat Benton, who has headed up the greenway project for the past two years, said public input is very important. “We want people to come and let us know how they want to use the greenway because it is their greenway,” she said.

Benton encouraged town residents to attend, saying they will be able to come and go as needed during the hearing. Large maps of the greenway will be on display, and smaller maps will be available for people to take home.

Anita Darnell, who chairs the authority and also serves on the Jonesville Town Council, said, “We want to get the community involved and try to get the greenway on its feet and going.”

Darnell said the authority hopes representatives of the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, schools, local businesses and other groups interested in volunteering to help will be at the meeting. Scouts may even be able to earn badges by volunteering on the greenway, she said.

“I think people need to know that we have a greenway,” Darnell said, “and it’s going to take the community to help get people involved and get it walkable and have different activities down there. We can’t do it all by ourselves.”

Members of the Jonesville Tourism Development Authority and the town’s park employees will be at the hearing to answer any questions on plans for the greenway. Darnell said plans for the greenway call for a half-mile walking trail or loop which would be easily accessible for people wanting to walk shorter distances.

Plans also call for improvements to existing camp sites, more picnic areas, boating ramps and eventually an amphitheater for events. “We’re trying to do it in different phases,” she said.

Darnell said Jonesville Tourism Development Authority members can’t do everything that needs to be done by themselves. “I think people will be willing to come out and listen to what we would like to present to them,” she said.

In addition to local residents, Darnell, the manager at Best Western in Jonesville, said travelers staying at local hotels use the greenway for walking and bicycling. “Hotel managers recommend it to them,” she said.

Authority member Danny Lewis said he wants to see Jonesville residents get interested in the greenway. “We’re hoping to get some volunteers to help design and promote it,” he said.

Among the plans authority members have discussed, Lewis said, are posting designated entrance and directional signs, improving the playground, adding an amphitheater and adding enough parking spaces and restrooms to accommodate people who come to events at it.

A former town council member and one of five people running for three seats on the board in next month’s municipal election, Lewis brought up the need to work on the greenway at the board’s September meeting. Authority and town council members recently collaborated on a N.C. Parks Commission grant to construct two more pedestrian bridges on the greenway and make other improvements.

Authority members approved appropriating $25,000 toward the $100,000 grant application. In order to apply for the grant, Town Manager Scott Buffkin said the town had to have a commitment to fund $1 for every $4 of the grant.

When it comes to enjoying the greenway, Lewis said he believes town residents are very safe in doing so. Capt. Scotty Vestal of the Jonesville Police Department said officers patrol it regularly “even though it’s kind of in its infancy as far as use goes.”

“We actually have an all-terrain vehicle to do that,” he said. “It’s beautiful down there. I’d love to see it grow and be utilized. It’s a great asset.

“It kind of meanders along the Yadkin River, and it’s a great resource.”

Vestal said police officers had input on the design of the greenway to ensure safety and easy access by rescue personnel in the event of medical emergencies. “They listened to what we had to say,” he said, “and kept those things in mind.”

Kathy Chaffin can be reached at 336-258-4058.

By Kathy Chaffin

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