The town of Valdese in Burke County has acquired 302 acres along Lake Rhodhiss and McGalliard Creek for a new public park. The $1.3 million purchase was funded by private donations and a grant from the state’s Clean Water Management Trust Fund. It came came after 2½ years of planning and fundraising by the Foothills Conservancy.
“This project's really a great example of how land trusts like Foothills Conservancy help local governments and other agencies to acquire land for public parks,” Tom Kenney, the conservancy’s land protection director, told WFAE.
The property will become Valdese Lakeside Park. It's adjacent to a small existing park the town already owns that includes a small waterfall. Lake Rhodhiss supplies drinking water for Valdese, Lenoir and other nearby communities.
In addition to protecting the water supply, town officials also say they hope the park will boost tourism and make nearby neighborhoods more attractive to new residents.
The Clean Water Management Trust Fund provided $673,247 toward the purchase. The town also received a $300,000 state Parks and Recreation Trust Fund grant, a $300,000 donation from the Rostan Family Foundation, and $100,000 from a local furniture maker, Kellex Seating.
Walter Clark, executive director of the Clean Water fund, said the deal scored highest among projects it considered for funding this year. “The project protects 22,800 feet of stream and the lake shoreline, while significantly enhancing the town’s recreational assets,” Clark said in a statement.
Plans call for hiking and mountain bike trails, a canoe launch, and a disc golf course. Friends of the Valdese Rec will spend the next couple of years raising money for those projects. They say they’ll have a draft layout for the new park available for public comment in March.
Foothills Conservancy negotiated the purchase from Caldwell Timber Partners, a land investment company that owns several thousand acres around Lake Rhodhiss.
See more about the planned Valdese Lakeside Park on the Friends of Valdese Rec website, Friendsofthevaldeserec.org
FoothillsConservancy.org, web page about the Lake Rhodhiss project