Eureka! Greenway Park awards land in Waynesville’s lap | News

The long-held dream of extending Waynesville’s greenway with a pedestrian bridge over Richland Creek won the lottery this week.

After initially losing a state grant to help fund the project last August, a miracle happened. The state discovered it had more money in the Parks and Recreation Trust Fund than it thought, so it went through the grant pile to allocate a few more.

Waynesville was one of the lucky winners.

Specifically, the city had applied for a grant to build a bridge over Richland Creek, which would connect to a 9-acre vacant lot on the other side. This area would in turn be developed with a walking path and recreational facilities to extend the Waynesville Greenway and Recreational Park.

The longer term goal of extending the greenway from Waynesville to Junaluska Lake rested on the bridge. But with a price tag of $440,000, figuring out how to pay for it has been a three-year quest.

Local philanthropist Philan Medford jump launched the effort with $100,000 in seed capital.

“You have to cross Richland Creek. It’s a very big hurdle,” Medford said of his gift for the bridge.

Still, there was a long way to go, and the city knew the grant was a long shot.

Of 58 applications for the Parks and Recreation Trust Fund in 2021, only 14 were successful.

“They’re so competitive,” said Elizabeth Teague, Waynesville’s director of developmental services.

After losing, city leaders decided to fund the bridge anyway using federal COVID stimulus money. City Council approved a construction contract for the bridge at its first meeting in January.

But then, just two weeks later, the $230,000 grant finally magically arrived.

Since the city had already allocated funds for the construction of the bridge, the additional windfall will go towards Phase II of the project: developing the 9-acre land on the other side into a park-like setting with a walking path, picnic tables, benches and exercise equipment stations.

“We will continue and build the bridge as planned and use this grant to build the trail around the property,” Teague said.

Medford admits she was concerned after the grant was initially not awarded.

“I’ve been on pins and needles vicariously ever since,” Medford said.

She is now beyond thrilled that not only is the bridge moving forward, but the additional area of ​​the park is being developed.

Before the grant fell from the sky, the city did not have enough money to build the bridge and the walking path. Thus, the bridge would have been a bridge to nowhere to begin with.

“We’re going to try to stretch that extra cash as much as we can,” Teague said. “We literally just heard about this grant. Now that we know we have that extra money, we need to go back and phase everything and look at the costs. »

The city held a public meeting and conducted a survey to help create the vision for the tract.

“People saw it as an extension of the greenway and additional passive recreation,” Teague said.

Fishing areas along the creek could also be part of a future phase.

Medford’s $100,000 donation is credited with initiating the project, which led to an additional $20,000 in private donations.

“This really wouldn’t have happened without Philan and other citizens helping the city with this,” Teague said. “Hopefully once we get it on board there will be more momentum to do additional fundraising.”

The bridge will be a steel truss bridge 10 feet wide and 100 feet long. Although the creek itself is not that far, a longer reach is required to keep footings out of the floodway per federal regulations.

The $440,000 bridge includes $385,000 for construction, with Whittier’s Owle Construction being the lowest of five bids, and $55,000 for engineering by Bell Engineering.

Comments are closed.