Early June is traditionally a time when students don caps and gowns to receive diplomas, but it also will bring a rite of passage for a recreational and conservation achievement in Mount Airy.
City officials have announced that a dedication ceremony for the Ararat River Conservation, Restoration and Parks Project will be held on June 2 at 11:30 a.m. It is open to the public.
The event, scheduled at the new H.B. Rowe Environmental Park at 217 Hamburg St., will climax years of planning and construction that stemmed from concerns over massive erosion along the river’s banks.
Not only has that damage been reversed by the resulting project, additional facilities have come about, including Mount Airy’s second greenway as well as the environmental park.
“I guess you could say it’s the icing on the cake,” Assistant Recreation Director Darren Lewis said of the significance of next week’s event in celebrating the project’s completion.
It is aimed at recognizing everyone who made it possible. That includes representatives of various funding agencies, landowners who provided easements along the river for the improvements, developers and contractors — “everyone that had a piece in this project,” Lewis said.
A recognition of property owners will begin at 11 a.m., 30 minutes before the official ceremony, with refreshments to be served at noon. Hayrides and tours are planned at 12:30 p.m. by North State Environmental Inc. of Winston-Salem, the contractor for the work.
While $1 million in city funding was designated for the effort, most of the money for the $4 million project came from non-local sources that will be honored during next week’s dedication.
These include The Resource Institute Inc. and Pilot View Resource Conservation and Development, both located in Winston-Salem; and the N.C. Clean Water Management Trust Fund, the state Parks and Recreation Trust Fund and the N.C. Division of Water Resources, all based in Raleigh.
Also to be recognized are the Surry Soil and Water Conservation District and Baker Engineering, in addition to North State Environmental. The Baker firm provided engineering and technical support.
Before ground was broken for the project on March 30, 2009, the Ararat was a “sick river” in the words of one engineer, with banks eroding at the rate of 15 feet per year.
The effort has resulted in cleaner water and improved resource conservation, in addition to enhancing fishing and canoeing/kayaking opportunities. Meanwhile, the new greenway has become popular with walkers, while the environmental park will promote nature studies among youths.
Lewis said North State Environmental officials plan to have all work completed by June 2. “That is their goal,” he said. Construction was hampered by persistent bad weather during the winter, but Lewis said the job still will be finished in accordance with terms of the contract.
After turning onto Hamburg Street from Renfro Street, H.B. Rowe Environmental Park can be found on the left side of the roadway before reaching Mount Airy Middle School.
Contact Tom Joyce at email@example.com or at 719-1924.