This week’s visit is to a park so new the only amenities besides the natural beauty are a few trails that have been created and used by citizens. Thursday, I had the honor of attending the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony for Lakeside Park in Valdese. Parks & Recreation Director Doug Knight first printed off a map of this property in 2007. The town tried to negotiate with the owner, but the property which sits on Lake Rhodhiss was sold to a developer. Several years ago, the town negotiated with the developer to purchase 302 acres for the park.
I was impressed to see about 50 guests, including state and local elected officials, citizens and representatives from sponsors and funding sources attend this event. It was exciting to hear Mayor Chip Black talk about the future of Valdese and what this park represents. He shared how parks support the economy and that younger generations are looking for a place to live and then how to make a living. He called adding the park to their system “a once in a lifetime opportunity”. In addition to funds received from the Parks and Recreation Trust Fund and the Clean Water Management Trust Fund, they have received support from Kellex, Carolinas Healthcare Blue Ridge, and The Rostan Family Foundation.
Their biggest supporter is not a corporate entity, but a citizen. Her name is Beth Heile. She is the President of the Friends of Valdese Recreation group and has been the person working hand in hand with Doug Knight to bring this project to fruition. During her remarks, she said, “faith is taking the first step when you can’t see the top of the staircase”, she then told the crowd “we had not reached the top yet, just a plateau”. She then had the audience cheer with her “I Believed” and invited us to the park opening in 2-3 years. It is wonderful to see citizens embrace what parks mean to a community and then take action. If you have a “Beth” in your community, you are very fortunate and I encourage you to thank them for what they do!
The town’s website hasn’t added this park to their listing of facilities since it is not officially open for business. To learn for about the agency and to find details on Lakeside Park in the future, visit https://www.townofvaldese.com/recreation/
Ribbon Cutting photo courtesy of The Morganton News Herald