The Middle Fork Greenway announced Aug. 14 that it has raised more than $143,000 in six weeks as part of its second annual Roundup for the Greenway fundraiser.
“Last year was $113,000, right now we’re at $143,969,” Middle Fork Greenway Executive Director Wendy Patoprsty said on Aug. 14. “This is truly a homegrown, grassroots project.”
Patoprsty said the number as of Aug. 15 was more than $145,000.
The announcement came during a check collection event at Mystery Hill, where business owners, representatives and civic leaders gathered to drop off their roundup totals from the month of July, enjoy refreshments and throw tomahawks on the new Tomahawk Hill, which is part of Mystery Hill.
The amount raised comes from roughly 150 businesses asking customers to round up their purchases to the next dollar amount in the month of July, with the difference going to the Middle Fork Greenway – a planned 6.5-mile trail that will eventually link Boone to Blowing Rock.
Final amounts won’t be determined for several weeks as businesses continue raising funds to deliver to the Middle Fork Greenway.
Local nonprofit Blue Ridge Conservancy is the parent organization of the Middle Fork Greenway.
“This has been a really fun year working with Blue Ridge Conservancy on this trail,” Patoprsty said. “All of a sudden, things are starting to fall into place.”
Patoprsty said the 2019 Roundup event will help raise the funds needed to construct the section from Gold Mine Branch Park to Tweetsie Railroad, known as Section 4B, which is 0.95 miles in length. In total, Section 4B project will cost roughly $2 million, Patoprsty said, so in 2019 the effort is to raise $700,000 toward that to go with the $1.3 million already in the bank.
“One quarter of a mile is gonna cost us about $700,000,” Patoprsty said of Section 4B. “The reason is that it’ll require a boardwalk, a stream crossing, a highway underpass and a pedestrian bridge over the river.”
Section 4A from Sterling Creek Park to Tweetsie has been completed.
The money raised in the roundup will be used to leverage funds from federal and state grants. The $113,000 raised during the inaugural Roundup event in 2018 was used to bring in $1.2 million in grants, Patoprsty said.
Section 1, going from Blowing Rock to the Foley Center at Chestnut Ridge, will break ground in 2020 after an $85,000 appropriation from the Blowing Rock Tourism Development Authority helped secure the project, Patoprsty said.
“We are starting to get shovel ready from Tanger Outlets, all throughout the Blue Ridge Parkway and through the Foley Center, that’s 1.3 miles of greenway trail that we’re expected to start construction on next year,” Patoprsty said. “Local dollars are making this greenway project happen.”
At the southern terminus of the greenway near the northern border of Blowing Rock off U.S. 321, work has been ongoing in 2019. A pavilion that overlooks the Middle Fork headwaters was completed earlier in the year and the full trailhead including kiosks, signage from Iron Mountain Works, benches from Charleston Forge and more has recently started construction.
“It should be finalized this fall and we will have a ribbon cutting,” Patoprsty said on Aug. 15. “The contractors installing all the hardscapes (bike rack, pavers, stairs, signs, bench, etc.) now, and then they can begin planting the final vegetation in the fall per N.C. Department of Transportation specifications.”
Patoprsty said the trailhead is largely funded by the N.C. DOT.
The goal for the 2019 Roundup is $200,000 by the end of August, so people and businesses can still give either by going to www.MiddleForkGreenway.org and clicking on donate or by sending a check made out to Middle Fork Greenway to the Blue Ridge Conservancy, P.O. Box 568, Boone, N.C., 28607