Groundbreaking set for river restoration

First Posted: 3/27/2009

The good news is that a long-awaited project to restore banks of the Ararat River begins Monday. The bad news is, the work will disrupt activities at a popular city park.
Weather permitting, contractors are scheduled to be on site to break ground for the Ararat River Restoration Project at Riverside Park, the point on the river where the job will begin and progress downstream.
The Mount Airy Board of Commissioners awarded a $3.25 million construction contract to North State Environmental Inc. of Winston-Salem on Jan. 15 to do the work.
Engineers say the Ararat River is eroding at the rate of 15 feet per year.
Along with rehabilitating stream banks victimized by erosion, the three-year project will involve developing recreational facilities along the river, including Mount Airys second greenway trail. The centerpiece of the greenway will be the H.B. Rowe Environmental Park, a facility that will include nature trails and habitats to be available for studies by local students.
Under a master plan approved by city parks and recreation leaders, facilities along the river also will be added or upgraded, including new concession stands, lighted ballfields, canoe and kayak access points and improved parking areas.
It will be some major work, Darren Lewis, assistant city recreation director, said Thursday.
The project has been in the planning stages for several years, with the city obtaining various grants to fund the effort, including a $500,000 award from the N.C. Parks and Recreation Trust Fund in 2008 and an identical grant the year before.
Mount Airy allocated $200,000 annually for five years for streambank restoration and for about the first 4,000 feet of the Ararat River greenway.

Effects On Park
Riverside Park will remain open for now, but due to the extent of the work, there are times in which the park will be closed for safety purposes, city officials said Friday.
Future reservations for the facility will be curtailed as well, they say. Permits that already have been issued will be honored, but no additional reservations will be authorized until further information is received from the construction contractor, officials said.
Riverside Park, which has picnic shelters, a ballfield, a playground and a basketball court, is used heavily by the public.
Westwood Park, Mount Airys other major public recreation facility that contains ballfields and a picnic shelter among other attractions, will be available for reservations as availability permits.
While Riverside Park will stay open at first, the dates when it will be closed due to the construction will be announced. Information including scheduling changes also will be posted on the city government Web site at and on local government television (Time Warner Cable Channel 6).

Scope Of Work
Mount Airys contract with North State Environmental Inc. covers about 16,929 feet of river restoration, 11,531 feet of greenway trails and three park locations.
It calls for the installation of in-river structures; streambank stabilization; structural components; various park amenities; retaining walls; bridges; and culverts, in addition to the greenway.
Trees and shrubs will be planted to absorb runoff and large rocks will be placed in the river to divert water flow from the banks.
Construction of the greenway will not begin until the river channel restoration is completed, to avoid damage to the waterway.
Contact Tom Joyce at [email protected] or at 719-1924.

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