__MAIN_TEXT__

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H OWARD KN O B BOON E, N C


Howa rd Kno b Park M A S T E R

P L A N

C R E AT E D F O R WATAU G A CO U N T Y TO U R I S M D E V E LO P M E N T AU T H O R I T Y

PRODUCED

BY

D E ST I N AT I O N

BY

DESIGN

/

815

W.

KING

ST,

BOONE,

NC

28607


ACKNOWLEDGMENTS WATAUGA COUNTY TOURISM DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY

WATAUGA COUNTY BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS

BOARD OF DIRECTORS

MATT VINCENT Chairman

TONY GRAY Vice-Chair

LISA MARTIN KIM ROGERS JIM NEUSTADT BRAD MORETZ

JOHN WELCH Chairman

BILLY KENNEDY Vice-Chairman

JIMMY HODGES

Director of Land Protection and Stewardship Blue Ridge Conservancy

BRITTANY CLARK Downtown Boone Development Coordinator Town of Boone

JOHN WARD Manager Town of Boone

Commissioner

MATT VINCENT

LARRY TURNBOW Commissioner

Chair Watauga County TDA

PERRY YATES

ERIC HEISTAND

Commissioner

TINA HOUSTON STAFF

High Country Recreation

STEPHEN POULOS Director Watauga County Parks and Recreation

STAFF

DERON GEOUQUE

L. WRIGHT TILLEY

County Manager

DR. MELISSA WEDDELL

Executive Director

STEPHEN POULOS

MICHELLE LIGON

Director of Parks and Recreation

Chair Boone Area Cyclists

JOHN LANMAN

Director of P.R. & Social Media

BRANDON HOLDER Administrative Assistant

PROJECT STEERING COMMITTEE L. WRIGHT TILLEY Executive Director Watauga County TDA

DERON GEOUQUE Manager Watauga County

iv

ERIC HIEGL

H OWA R D K N OB PARK M ASTE R P LAN

High Country Pathways

ROBERT HOLTON High Country Pathways


TABLE OF CONTENTS

EXHIBITS

CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND................................................ 1

1: P L A N N I N G P ROC ESS T I M ELI N E ................................................... 5

CHAPTER 2: SITE ANALYSIS AND DESIGN DETERMINANTS .............................. 7

MAST E R P L A N ................................................................................12

2: WATAUG A COU N T Y N OR T H ER N PEAKS T RAI L

3: COMM UN I T Y SU RVEY GRAPH S .................................................. 22

CHAPTER 3: PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT AND DRAFT PLAN.....................................19

4: P R E L I M I N A RY M AST ER PLAN CON C EPT ................................. 24

CHAPTER 4: RECOMMENDATIONS AND FINAL MASTER PLAN........................ 27

6: F I N A L HOWA R D KN OB PAR K M AST ER PLAN .........................30

CHAPTER 5: IMPLEMENTATION...............................................................................41

8: A F R E S H W ELCOM E ..................................................................... 33

APPENDIX: APPENDIX A........................................................................................48 APPENDIX B........................................................................................51 APPENDIX C........................................................................................52 APPENDIX D........................................................................................60

MAPS 1: H OWAR D KN O B PARK LO CAT IO N ................................................ 3 2: H OWAR D K N O B PARK CO N T E X T .................................................11 3: NPT BOO N E FO CU S ARE AS ......................................................... 13

5: P R EC E D E N T I M AGES .................................................................... 29

7: HOWA R D K N OB PAR K PLAN N I N G AR EAS ................................ 31

9: S HE LT E R 2.0 .................................................................................. 35 10: A V I E W F OR EVERYON E ........................................................... 37 11: T HE BOON E VI EW ........................................................................ 38 12: LOOKOUT F O R T H E LOOKOU T ........................................ 40 13: P OSS I BL E G RAN T FU N DI N G FOR H OWAR D KN OB PAR K ..4 3 14: P HAS E 1 : I M PLEM EN TAT I ON PH YSI CAL N EEDS S UM M A RY AN D BU DGET...................................................44

15: P HAS E 2: I MPLEM EN TAT I ON PH YSI CAL N EEDS S UM M A RY AN D BU DGET...................................................45

4: H OWAR D K N O B PARK N AT U RAL & BUILT E N VIRO N M E N T AN ALYSIS. . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1 5

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v


H OWARD KN O B BOON E, N C


CHAPTER

1

INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND


C H A P T E R 1 // I N T R O D UCTI O N AND BACKGRO UND

1

INTRODUCTION & BACKGROUND

T

he Howard Knob Park Master Plan serves as a guide for the redevelopment of Howard Knob Park in Watauga County, NC. This project is the result of a partnership between Watauga County, Watauga County Tourism Development Authority, High County Recreation, Blue Ridge Conservancy, High Country Pathways, and Boone Area Cyclists. Howard Knob Park, known for its dramatic views of Town of Boone, is a longstanding iconic regional asset. This chapter examines the project background and outlines plan goals, process, and organization.

2

H OWA R D K N OB PARK M ASTE R P LAN

IN THIS CHAPTER

01

PROJECT BACKGROUND

02 PROJECT GOALS 03 PLANNING PROCESS 04 PLAN ORGANIZATION


MA P 1: HOWA R D KNOB PA R K LOCAT I ON

H owa rd Kn ob Par k is located ju st nort h of dow n tow n B oon e, NC. Vi s i b l e f rom t h e Tow n ’s Main St reet , H owa rd Kn ob is a promin en t an d hi g hl y accessible asset .

B OON E, N C

3


C H A P T E R 1 // I N T R O D UCTI O N AND BACKGRO UND

Background

History & Acquisition

Howard Knob is located in central Watauga County

Howard Knob Park is owned and managed by

(pop. 51,079) in northwest North Carolina. The 5.7

Watauga County Parks and Recreation. The 5.7-

acre park is located just north of the Town of Boone

acre site was previously owned by the federal

municipal boundary. Local leaders, particularly the

government and was home to a NASA-managed

Watauga County Tourism Development Authority

experimental wind turbine.

(WCTDA), seek to revitalize Howard Knob Park as

was dismantled in 1983 and the property was

a means for strengthening regional recreation and

subsequently donated to Watauga County for a

tourism assets; Howard Knob Park is identified

community park.

as a priority for redevelopment within the 2011

the passive park in the mid-80’s with modest

Boone Area Outdoor Recreation Master Plan and

facilities including a picnic shelter, viewing area,

the 2017 Northern Peaks Trail Master Plan, both

picnic tables, an open green, and parking area;

plans spearheaded by the WCTDA.

today, many of these facilities have fallen into

The wind turbine

Watauga County developed

Howard Knob Park was previously owned by the federal government and was home to a NASA-managed experimental wind turbine. The wind turbine was dismantled in 1983 and the property was subsequently donated to Watauga County for a community park.

disrepair. Nevertheless, Howard Knob Park and its unmatched views of downtown Boone and Appalachian State University remain a popular destination for both tourists and locals.

Howard Knob Park is identified as a priority for redevelopment within the 2011 Boone Area Outdoor Recreation Master Plan and the 2017 Northern Peaks Trail Master Plan.

�

Photo courtesy of Winston Salem Journal

4

H OWA R D K N OB PARK M ASTE R P LAN


PROJECT GOALS 1. Quality of Life. Improve quality of life for Watauga residents by expanding recreation assets and

PLANNING PROCESS TIMELINE E X H I B I T: 1 PLANNING PROCESS TIMELINE

programming. 2. Tourism Development & Economic Impact: Establish Howard Knob Park as a destination asset to further expand premier outdoor recreation opportunities in the area; 3. Northern Peaks Trail Implementation: Revitalize Howard Knob Park as a first step in asset development along the planned Northern Peaks Trail corridor. 4. Poised for Grant Funding: Adhere to planning guidelines required by the North Carolina Parks and Recreation Trust Fund (PARTF) to ensure grant competitiveness. PARTF provides grants to help create public parks throughout the state.

P H AS E 1 /// F E B R UA RY- M A R C H 2 01 8 Project Launch & Site Analysis

»»Kick-off Meeting »»Site Analysis P H AS E 2 /// A P R I L- J U N E 2 01 8 Stakeholder Engagement & Initial Concepts

»»Community Survey »»Draft Concept Development P H AS E 3 /// J U N E -AU G U ST 2 01 8 Analysis & Public Engagement

»»Stakeholder and Public Presentations »»Plan Revisions P H AS E 4 /// AU G U ST- O C TO B E R 2 01 8 Analysis & Public Engagement

»»Public Meeting »»Council Presentation »»Final Plan

Howard Knob Park MASTER PLAN

BOONE, NC

»

SUMMER 2018

THIS PLAN WAS DEVELOPED IN ACCORDANCE WITH STANDARDS SET FORTH BY THE NC PARKS AND RECREATION TRUST FUND

The Howard Knob Park steering committee discusses possible park elements.

B OON E, N C

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H OWARD KN O B BOON E, N C


CHAPTER

2

SITE ANALYSIS AND DESIGN DETERMINANTS


C H A P T E R 2 // Site Analysis and D esign D eterminants

2

Site Analysis and Design Determinants

T

his chapter examines existing conditions within and surrounding Howard Knob Park that influence the park planning process and outcomes. The chapter begins with an assessment of the Howard Knob Park context, including its relationship to downtown Boone and surrounding land uses and recreation assets. Next, the park’s natural environment is assessed, including topography, soils, hydrology, and significant natural occurrences. This chapter concludes with an assessment of the park’s existing built environment and infrastructure. The site analysis establishes an objective inventory of opportunities, constraints, and existing conditions at Howard Knob Park; this information provides guidance for the master plan steering committee as they consider park redevelopment.

8

H OWA R D K N OB PARK M ASTE R P LAN

IN THIS CHAPTER

01

STUDY AREA CONTEXT

02 NATURAL ENVIRONMENT 03 BUILT ENVIRONMENT


“A n a na l ysis of t h e st u dy area’s con text a nd ex i st i n g n at u ral an d bu ilt feat u res p rov i d e a f ramewor k for par k vision in g a nd f i na l design .”

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C H A P T E R 2 // Site Analysis and D esign D eterminants

Study Area Context Howard Knob Park is situated north of downtown Boone, atop Howard Knob for which the park is named. The park is located on Howard Knob Road and is surrounded by private property and low-density single-family homes. Many surrounding properties have been subdivided into residential lots, but remain undeveloped. Blue Ridge Conservancy (BRC) owns a 46 acre tract near the park’s southeast boundary, which is home to the 1.5 mile Boone United Trail; unfortunately, a small sliver of private property separates this tract from the park. As shown on Map 2: Blue Ridge Conservancy Properties of Interest (page right), BRC maintains a significant land protection interest in properties surrounding Howard Knob.

BLUE RIDGE CONSERVANCY: SPEARHEADING THE PROTECTION OF CRITICAL LANDS

“ The m i ss i on of t h e B R C is to wor k w it h w i l l i ng l a nd ow ne r s an d local commu n it ies to p e rm a ne nt l y protect lan d an d water re s ource s w i t h agr icu lt u ral, ecological, c ul t ura l , re c re at ion al, an d scen ic valu e in N ort hwe st N ort h Carolin a. Th is region al l a nd t rust ha s he lped protect more t h an 20,0 0 0 a c re s of lan d w it h sign if ican t p ub l i c va l ue.”

10

H OWA R D K N OB PARK M ASTE R P LAN


M A P 2: HOWA R D KNOB PA R K CO N T E XT

54 +/- Acres

Blue Ridge Conservancy Town of Boone

Watauga County Park

× 18 Acres

16 Acres

Blue Ridge Conservancy Conservation Easement

Town of Boone

Howard Knob Land Division House Division

WATAUGA Lackey Parcel Town of Boone

®

Green Property BRC Protected Lands

Prepared by Blue Ridge Conservancy 2018

Source: Watauga County Tax Mapping

0

500

Feet 1,000

Blue Ridge Conservancy PO Box 568 Boone, NC 28607 (828) 264-2511 www.blueridgeconservancy.org B OON E, N C

11


C H A P T E R 2 // Site Analysis and D esign D eterminants

NORTHERN PEAKS TRAIL

The Trail

Northern (NPT)

Peaks is

a

The NPT master plan highlights four (4) priority implementation

focus

areas.

Focus

Area

FOCUS AREAS

#1

RIVER NEW RK FO

PHOENIX MOUNTAIN

THREE TOP MOUNTAIN

planned 40-mile hiking

emphasizes a trail connection from downtown

trail that will ultimately link the downtowns of

Boone to Howard Knob Park. Furthermore, the NPT

Boone and West Jefferson. The NC Division of

plan identifies Howard Knob Park as a major trail

Parks and Recreation, Watauga County Tourism

“node” and emphasizes that park improvements

PADDY MOUNTAIN THE PEAK

3. THREE TOP

TN

designation as a North Carolina State Trail, which would provide funding and promotional support from the NC Division of Parks and Recreation.

EX HI B I T: 2 WATAUGA COUNTY

NORTHERN PEAKS TRAIL MASTER PLAN The Northern Peaks Trail Master Plan identifies Howard Knob Park as a major trail “node” and emphasizes that park improvements here are a critical step for implementing this regional trail with a projected annual economic impact of $2.5 million.

H OWA R D K N OB PARK M ASTE R P LAN

194 SNAKEDEN MOUNTAIN

W AT AU G A

TODD W NE RK H FO SOUT

SNAKE MOUNTAIN ELK KNOB STATE PARK

HOWARD KNOB

E H TY AS UN CO

currently being considered by state legislators for

2. ELK KNOB

MOUN TAIN

impact of $2.5 million.

TATER HILL

W C O ATA U UG N TY A

221

ER RIV

LEGEND

PRIORITY FOCUS AREAS

US FEDERAL LANDS

1. BOONE

NC STATE PARKS

DOWNTOWN HOWARD KNOB

These active implementation areas are primary targets for landowner outreach, design and engineering, and trail construction. Upon completion, these trails would provide meaningful standalone connections.

NC WILDLIFE RESOURCES

ER IV R

Peaks Trail Master Plan in summer 2017. The NPT is

DOWNTOWN MT. JEFFERSON STATE NATURAL AREA

ELK KNOB

RICH MOUNTAIN BALD

321

regional trail with a projected annual economic

4. WEST JEFFERSON

SNAKE MOUNTAIN

here are a critical step for implementing this

and other regional partners published the Northern

221

THE PEAK THREE TOP GAMELAND

NC

RICH

Development Authority, Blue Ridge Conservancy,

MOUNT JEFFERSON BLUFF MOUNTAIN

421

12

H RT NO

NC PLANT CONSERVATION 421

LOCAL COUNTIES AND TOWNS PRIVATE CONSERVED LANDS 105

0

2.5

OPPORTUNISTIC AREAS These are passive implementation areas. Should an "opportunity" develop, such as the willingness of a landowner or conservation land manager to provide for the NPT, then efforts should be extended accordingly. Otherwise, implementation efforts should remain targeted toward the Priority Focus Areas.

5

10 MI.

N

Howard Knob Park is considered to be a significant trail node in the Northern Peaks Trail Master Plan.


MA P 3: BOONE F OC US A RE A

BOONE FOCUS AREA Focus Area #1 of the NPT master plan features a connection from downtown Boone to Howard Knob Park. Also, a trail connection is planned between the park and the Boone United Trail, which is located on land controlled by the Blue Ridge Conservancy.

B OON E, N C 1 3


C H A P T E R 2 // Site Analysis and D esign D eterminants

Natural Environment TOPOGRAPHY

Elevations

within

the park’s 5.7 acres range from approximately 4,300 ft. to 4,420 ft. The most significant steep slopes, which include multiple rock outcroppings, are located along the

SOILS, VEGETATION, & SIGNIFICANT NATURAL COMMUNITIES

The

park

consists

property of

three

(Balsam Globe snail) and the Turritis glabra (Tower Mustard plant).

The Balsam Globe has been

main soil complexes:

previously identified along the northeast border

Burton-Craggey-

of the property, near the park’s open green. The

Rock outcrop (BuD);

Tower Mustard plant has been previously identified

property’s southern extent. Moderately sloped

Unaka-Porters (UkE); and Unaka-Rock outcrop

throughout the eastern half of the property. As

areas are located along the park’s northern areas,

(UnF).

BuD complex is located in the southern

part of the planning process, scientists from

while flat areas exist at along the property’s peak

and western portions of the property, while UkE

Appalachian State University performed a special

and asphalt drive.

complex stretches from the eastern to western

vegetation survey on July 16, 2018; a single Arabis

border across the middle of the property, and UnF

glabra was the only documented species of

complex is located in the northern and southern

concern at the site.

sections of the property. Of significant note, Howard Knob is located within a major amphibolite macro-site. Amphibolite rock creates nutrient rich soil upon decomposition, which, combined with the elevation and climate conditions, leads to the presence of unique flora and fauna. The

HYDROLOGY & WETLANDS

The park property is located within the New River watershed. ASU

Lake, a reservoir that supplies water to the nearby Appalachian State University campus, is located near the northern base of Howard Knob.

property’s

vegetation

largely

reflects

Two

a

unnamed tributaries are located at the southern

Northern Hardwood Forest, featuring a significant

base of the Knob, which feed into Boone Creek

number of large oak and hickory trees throughout

and the South Fork of the New River.

the core and periphery of the property. An open green is located near the eastern edge of the property boundary. The

park

contains

two

significant

natural

communities including the Mesodon andrewsae

14

H OWA R D K N OB PARK M ASTE R P LAN

There are no streams or identified wetlands within the property boundaries.


B OON E, N C 1 5

M AP 4 : H OWAR D K N OB PA R K N AT URA L & BUILT E NVIR ONME NT A NA LYSI S


C H A P T E R 2 // Site Analysis and D esign D eterminants

Built Environment Howard Knob Park contains a limited number of structures and facilities. This section describes the existing built environment, facilities, and public access areas.

EXISTING STRUCTURES

ENTRANCE & PAVED DRIVE

The park’s entrance and

SHELTER

The picnic shelter is located in

PICNIC AREAS

Picnic pads and tables

gateway is located in

the eastern portion of the park

the northwest corner

along the paved drive and includes an outdoor grill

northern, central, and southeastern portions of

of the property. A metal entrance gate is located

and picnic tables. Restroom facilities, which are

the park. The majority of all pads are in disrepair,

outside of the property’s boundary, near the

no longer in service, are accessible through the

while the aluminum elements of the picnic tables

property’s northwest corner. The park’s existing

covered shelter.

are salvagable.

sign is located along the entrance way within park boundaries. A one-way asphalt drive loops through the northeastern portion of the park. features three separate parking areas.

16

H OWA R D K N OB PARK M ASTE R P LAN

The drive

are

located

in

the


Built Environment OVERLOOK AREAS

Two

overlook

areas

are located near the southern

property

PATHS & TRAILS

An existing concrete path is located on the

southwestern edge of the open green.

UTILITY TOWER

A

utility

tower

is

located adjacent to the

Various

picnic shelter with anchored guy-wires to the north

boundary. The overlook located to the southwest is

natural surface paths surround the southeastern

and west. Overhead electric wires extend from the

accessible via a paved path and features a concrete

overlook area. An abandoned roadbed is located

tower and shelter outward through the western

platform and metal railing. The overlook located to

in the wooded area west of the open green..

park boundary, obscuring the western viewshed.

the southeast is accessed via natural surface path and requires some navigation of steep slopes.

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C H A P T E R 2 // Site Analysis and D esign D eterminants

Built Environment PUBLIC ACCESS AND PARKING ACCESS

Howard Knob Park is accessed via Howards

Knob Road. The road network leading to the park is steep and narrow in multiple locations, creating difficulty and safety concerns for pedestrians and cyclists.

PARKING

Formal parking areas are

located

within

the park, along the paved drive in three different locations.

These parking areas currently lack

definition and landscaping.

The park contains

approximately 20 parking spaces, none of which are ADA-compliant. Approximately 11 spaces exist within the western edge parking area, 2 spaces exist near the picnic shelter, and 7 within the parking area near the paved drive’s eastern bend.

18

H OWA R D K N OB PARK M ASTE R P LAN


CHAPTER

3

PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT AND DRAFT PLAN


C H A P T E R 3 // P U B LI C ENGAGEM ENT AND D RAFT PLA N

3

PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT

P

ublic engagement was a major component of the master planning process. Key public engagement tools included an online survey, a series of steering committee meetings, and a public input meeting. This chapter provides an overview of each public engagement activity and culminates with a preliminary draft of the Howard Knob Park site master plan.

20 H OWA R D K N OB PARK M ASTE R P LAN

IN THIS CHAPTER

01

COMMUNITY CLEAN-UP DAY

02 COMMUNITY SURVEY 03 STAKEHOLDER MEETINGS AND DRAFT PLAN


Clean-Up Day Event PARTNERSHIP

High Country Recreation, Blue Ridge Conservancy,

and Watauga County Parks and Recreation partnered to host a clean-up day at Howard Knob Park on June 2nd, 2018; this event was held in honor of National Land Trust Day and National Trails Day. The event was a major success - twenty-two local volunteers worked together for a half day to enhance the Howard Knob Park overlook and maintain existing trails and picnic areas. The planning consultant team used this event to generate press from the local newspaper and simultaneously advertise the online community survey for the park master plan.

“ Clean- Up Day: B efore and After �

Twenty-two local volunteers worked together for a half day to enhance the Howard Knob Park overlook.

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C H A P T E R 3 // P U B LI C ENGAGEM ENT AND D RAFT PLA N

Community Survey FEEDBACK

An online community survey was disseminated to the public to garner input for the Howard Knob Park Master Plan. The survey examined community opinions concerning existing conditions, use, and possible additional facilities. The survey, distributed through

paid social-media promotion and advertised in the Watauga Democrat newspaper, received 263 total responses. This foundational information played a significant role in helping guide steering committee recommendations. The complete survey results can be found in Appendix C.

E XHI BI T: 3 COMMUNITY SURVEY GRAPHS

Survey results indicated the following facilities as most important for

The four most important additional facilities included:

improvement:

»»Viewing Deck Area »»Open Green Space »»Picnicking Area »»Shelter Facilities 22

H OWA R D K N OB PARK M ASTE R P LAN

»»Walking Trails »»Hiking Trail Access to the Park »»Park Information & Signage »»Natural Play Areas


Stakeholder Meetings and Draft Plan This section provides an overview of two major public engagement meetings conducted with the master plan steering committee. During the first meeting (February 2018), the consultant team presented an environmental analysis of the site, and the steering committee brainstormed preliminary park improvement ideas. During the second meeting (July 2018), the consultant team revealed results of the online community survey and presented a preliminary sketch plan; steering committee feedback then provided direction for final plan development. This section further describes the results of these meetings.

MEETING #1: STEERING COMMITTEE DIRECTION MEETING (FEBRUARY 22, 2018) The consultant team hosted a direction-setting meeting with the steering committee on February 22, 2018. The meeting began with a presentation by the consultant team that featured an overview of study area opportunities and constraints. Steering committee members then shared their ideas and concerns and collectively brainstormed park plan objectives. The meeting concluded with several key next steps: 1) develop and disseminate an online survey to obtain input from local citizens; 2) conduct a community “clean-up” day in June to create interest in the master plan process and online survey; and 3) produce a preliminary site plan for the steering committee to review at the next meeting.

MEETING #2: SURVEY RESULTS & DRAFT PLAN PRESENTATION (JULY 23, 2018) The consultant team met again with the project steering committee on July 23, 2018. The consultant team presented the results of the community survey results and a draft site master plan. The draft plan reflected ideas generated from the first steering committee meeting and the primary needs highlighted in the community survey. The committee provided feedback for each proposed facility, ultimately crafting a clear vision for the final plan.

Discussion culminated with agreement on the following needs:

»»A viewing platform which enhances the viewshed without being unsightly from the downtown area; »»A natural play area built with maintenance-free materials; »»Visitor interpretation and education for visible natural features and history; »»Revitalized entrance sign; and »»A walking trail throughout the park.

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C H A P T E R 3 // P U B LI C ENGAGEM ENT AND D RAFT PLA N

EX HI B I T: 4 PRELIMINARY MASTER PLAN CONCEPT

“The preliminary site plan included the revitalization of existing shelter, picnic, and signage facilities, as well as the addition of two viewing decks, a lookout tower, natural play area, walking paths, bouldering areas, and a stage. The stage concept was ultimately rejected by the steering committee.”

24

H OWA R D K N OB PARK M ASTE R P LAN


Stakeholder Meetings and Draft Plan P UBLIC PRESENTATION AT THE D OWNTOWN BOONE ANNUAL MERCHANTS MEETING (AUGUST 21, 2018)

In August of 2018, the consultant team presented the final park master plan at a public meeting that also focused on a meeting of downtown Boone merchants. More than 50 local business owners were in attendance and the group generally supported the plan. A full list of public comments from this meeting can be found in Appendix B.

Planning consultant Cody Mitchell discusses key plan features with a local business owner.

B OON E, N C 25


H OWARD KN O B BOON E, N C


CHAPTER

4

RECOMMENDATIONS


C H A P T E R 4 // recommendations

4

RECOMMENDATIONS

T

his chapter features the final site master plan for Howard Knob Park and includes a description of all program and physical elements. These findings represent the collective vision expressed among stakeholder groups and the public.

28

H OWA R D K N OB PARK M ASTE R P LAN

IN THIS CHAPTER

01

FINAL MASTER PLAN

02 MASTER PLAN PROGRAM AND PHYSICAL NEEDS


HOWARD KNOB PARK PRECEDENT IMAGES Howard Knob Park will be anchored by an improved overlook, but will also feature a natural playground, additional trails, a viewing tower, and informational signage.

EX HI B I T: 5 PRECEDENT IMAGES

“The improved overlook will serve as the primary attraction of the redesigned park”.

B OON E, N C 29


E XHIB I T: 6 FINAL PARK MASTER PLAN “The final Howard Knob Park plan, representative of community input, improves and expands upon existing facilities to create a destination for locals and visitors alike.”

30 H OWA R D K N OB PARK M ASTE R P LAN


EX HI BIT: 7 HOWARD KNOB PARK PLANNING AREAS

“The park master plan is organized according to three distinct sub-planning areas. The subsequent pages describe the program and physical elements of each sub-planning area.”

B OON E, N C 3 1


C H A P T E R 4 // recommendations

MASTER PLAN PROGRAM AND PHYSICAL NEEDS This section provides an overview of the program and physical needs associated with each of the three planning areas: A) Active Recreation; B) Open Space; and C) Viewshed + Exploration.

SECTION A: ACTIVE RECREATION NATURAL PLAY AREA

A natural play area

shelter; this parking area will require a retaining

is

the

wall. Other additional parking areas are located

northeastern section of

on the east side of the entrance road, directly east

the Active Recreation planning section. This area

of the picnic shelter, and north of the open green

will feature a variety of play elements that mimic or

space; these areas may require costly retaining

reflect the natural environment and contribute to

walls, grading, and select tree removal.

located

in

cognitive and social skill development for its young users. The playground will feature a hill-slide built into the natural slope of the land. All playground structures must be made of sustainable materials that can withstand the area’s harsh weather.

PARKING, SIGNAGE, RESTROOMS, AND FENCING “The Active Recreation planning section includes the park entranceway and features a natural play area, picnic facilities, council ring, walking trails, signage, parking areas, and restroom facilities.”

such as Rocky Knob Mountain Bike Park.

New

fencing and plantings will also be placed along erected near the parking area along the park’s

The

park

plan

western parking areas.

supports the creation

An ADA-compliant vault toilet is proposed east of

of

the picnic shelter, along the paved drive.

approximately

25

new parking spaces.

Parking along the western park edge, near the entrance, will be restriped to provide for angled parking. Two ADA-accessible parking spaces are Two additional ADA-accessible parking spots are located along the paved drive east of the picnic

H OWA R D K N OB PARK M ASTE R P LAN

aesthetically align with other county park facilities,

the entranceway. An informational kiosk will be

provided near the eastern bend of the paved drive.

32

The existing entrance sign will be updated to

New fencing along the park boundary is proposed to discourage trespassing on adjacent private property. This feature shold be included within any phase 1 implementation efforts.


PROPOSED

EX HI B IT: 8 A FRESH WELCOME The existing entrance sign will be updated to aesthetically align with other county park facility architecture.

EXISTING B OON E, N C 3 3


C H A P T E R 4 // recommendations

SECTION A: ACTIVE RECREATION COUNCIL RING

A council ring will be

picnic

durable material. Metal fencing on the shelter roof

shelter, located near

should be removed and replaced with a grounded

the park’s utility tower,

wooden fence. An inward-facing lattice should be

council ring will consist of a circular stone seating

will be updated with an improved walking path,

used to prevent roof access from shelter side of

area. The council ring will provide a compelling

seat wall, benches, and grilling area. The shelter’s

the fencing.

landscape for group discussions and storytelling

façade should be updated with cedar or poplar

programming.

shake, or similar, to reflect a natural aesthetic with a

located in the eastern section of the Active Recreation planning area. The

34

H OWA R D K N OB PARK M ASTE R P LAN

PICNIC FACILITIES

The

existing


E XHIBIT: 9 SHELTER 2.0 The existing picnic shelter will be updated with an improved walking path, seat wall, benches, and grilling area. The shelter’s façade will need to be updated and the metal fencing on the shelter roof should be removed and replaced with a grounded wooden fence.

EXISTING

PROPOSED B OON E, N C 35


C H A P T E R 4 // recommendations

SECTION B: VIEWSHED + EXPLORATION OVERLOOK AREAS & VIEWING DECKS

Three overlook proposed

new areas

are

alongside

improvements

to

viewshed.

A new overlook area is proposed

southeast of “The Bowl,” requiring grading and fencing for safety.

BOULDERING AREAS

The existing overlook area

Three bouldering sites are

located

central

and

in

the

western

located just south of the open green space will be

sections of the planning area.

existing overlook areas.

improved for ADA-accessibility.

WCTDA should work with local climbing groups,

The westernmost overlook area is located near the

Two new viewing decks are proposed in the

such as the Boone Climbers Coalition, to develop

western parking area and requires selective tree

southeastern corner of the planning area.

thinning and utility relocation to obtain a significant

deck will be located south of the proposed

A

ADA Overlook, at the park’s primary existing overlook,

providing

increased

accessibility

and safety.

The other

proposed viewing deck is located in the property’s

The County and

bouldering sites and pathways in these sites.

WALKING PATHS

Walking paths connect the lower viewing deck

areas, bouldering sites, and “the Chimney” to the rest of the park. Steps, ladders, and railings will accompany the path where needed to enhance safety and accessibility.

southeast corner, with the potential for 200° views to the south and

steep

to

the

park’s

terrain,

access

to overlook areas must include steps and ladders where necessary. “The Viewshed + Exploration planning area, located along the park’s southern boundary, features enhancement to the park’s anchor asset: the viewshed. Another key feature includes new access to rock bouldering areas.”

36

H OWA R D K N OB PARK M ASTE R P LAN

The

Chimney

is

a

natural rock formation located to the west, along the property’s southern

east. Due

THE CHIMNEY

boundary. Steps, railing, brush clearing, and any necessary grading would be required to improve access to this unique natural feature.


EX HI B I T: 1 0 A VIEW FOR EVERYONE An ADA accessible trail and overlook area will allow users of all abilities to enjoy Howard Knob Park.

EXISTING

PROPOSED B OON E, N C 37


C H A P T E R 4 // recommendations

EXISTING EX H IBIT: 1 1 THE BOONE VIEW A deck is proposed at the park’s primary existing overlook, providing increased accessibility and safety.

PROPOSED

38

H OWA R D K N OB PARK M ASTE R P LAN


B OON E, N C 39


C H A P T E R 4 // recommendations

SECTION C: OPEN SPACE NORTHERN PEAKS TOWER

The

Northern

Peaks

Tower will be located in

WOODLAND WALK

the southwest corner

The Woodland Walk is a walking trail network located

throughout

of the Open Space planning area and provide

the Active Recreation and Open Space planning

unmatched views of the Northern Peaks mountain

areas. The trail system will take advantage of old

range and surrounding area. This feature will need

paths in some areas, but require the construction

to be a minimum of 55’ tall to extend above the

of new trails to ultimately complete the 1/3 mile

tree canopy and allow for users to capture views

loop.

to the north.

“The Viewshed + Exploration planning area, located along the park’s southern boundary, features enhancement to the park’s anchor asset: the viewshed. Another key feature includes new access to rock bouldering areas.”

4 0 H OWA R D K N OB PARK M ASTE R P LAN

OPEN GREEN SPACE

The

existing

open

green space will feature modest improvements

such as new landscaping and walkways.

E X H I B I T: 1 2 LOOKOUT FOR THE LOOKOUT The WCTDA should consider exploring opportunities for a used lookout tower when implementing the proposed Northern Peaks Tower. The Forest Fire Lookout Association website (www.firelookout.org) features used towers that are for sale. Most towers do not have a price, but simply note “make an offer.”


CHAPTER

5

IMPLEMENTATION


C H A P T E R 5 // I mplementation

5

IMPLEMENTATION

T

he Howard Knob Park Master Plan casts a bold vision that, if fully realized, will be costly and need to be implemented over time. The plan was developed to meet Parks and Recreation Trust Fund (PARTF) site master plan standards and position the WCTDA and Watauga County to ultimately pursue such grant funding. However, PARTF funding will require a 50% match and the WCTDA must plan accordingly. This chapter includes two major sections. The first section, General Implementation Recommendations, outlines broad actions that the WCTDA and its partners should consider as they work toward implementation. The second section outlines a phasing plan and a matrix summarizing physical needs and an associated budget.

42

H OWA R D K N OB PARK M ASTE R P LAN

IN THIS CHAPTER

01

GENERAL IMPLEMENTATION RECOMMENDATIONS

02 PRIORITIZATION, PHYSICAL NEEDS SUMMARY, AND BUDGET


GENERAL IMPLEMENTATION RECOMMENDATIONS This document was prepared according to standards development by the NC Parks and Recreation Trust Fund (PARTF), and this grant source should anchor any grant procurement strategy developed by the WCTDA. A specific grant procurement strategy will depend on the WCTDA’s ability to reserve matching funds. The WCTDA should consider the following as it

4

works to implement the Howard Knob Park Master

such as Blue Ridge Conservancy, that are actively

developed prior to or concurrently with the

Plan:

developing recreation projects to ensure that only

implementation of this plan, and consider the

a single PARTF application is submitted per cycle.

following:

1

Coordinate with other agencies in the County,

The WCTDA and County should both adopt

the Howard Knob Park Master Plan. The County will ultimately need to serve as the applicant for a

5

PARTF grant.

land acquisition strategy for property surrounding

6

a. Adjust operating hours to provide for yearround, dawn to dusk public access.

The WCTDA should consider developing a

b. Increase County recreation department staff capacity to provide for a park ranger and additional maintenance staff.

Howard Knob Park. Additional land will provide for

2

a larger trail system and the implementation of the The WCTDA should fund a nominal ($5,000/

year) Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) line item within the County’s budget for Howard Knob Park.

Northern Peaks Trail and a connector to the Boone United Trail.

A facility management strategy should be

7

Partner with NCDOT to evaluate and improve

Howards Knob Road.

This will result in additional PARTF grant points and increase the competitiveness of the application.

3

If secured, PARTF grants can be implemented

over a three (3) year period. To navigate the PARTF

E XHIBIT: 1 3 POSSIBLE GRANT FUNDING FOR HOWARD KNOB PARK

grant cycle and obtain a grant contract will take nearly a year; for budgeting purposes, note that fiscal impacts upon the WCTDA can be spread across these four (4) years;

Partnership Funding Agency

Howard Knob Park Implications

Maximum Amount

Matching Funds Required

Deadlines

Recreational Trails Program (RTP)

All types of trails and greenways.

$100,000.00

25%

February 1st

Parks and Recreation Trust Fund (PARTF)

All types of parks, trails, and recreation facilities

$500,000.00

50%

April

B OON E, N C 4 3


C H A P T E R 5 // I mplementation

PRIORITIZATION, PHYSICAL NEEDS SUMMARY, AND BUDGET

$

Each implementation phase reflects amenity prioritization identified by key stakeholders; if Howard Knob Park cannot be developed at once, the park should be phased accordingly: 1) Priority Viewshed + Active Recreation; and 2) Supplemental Trails, Viewshed, and Facilities. If pursuing PARTF grant funding, it may be necessary to implement specific elements from all phases to increase the application’s competitiveness.

PHASE 1: PRIORITY VIEWSHED + ACTIVE RECREATION The Priority Viewshed + Active Recreation phase is the foremost implementation phase. Features of this area include a new overlook deck and area, updates to an existing overlook, updates to the existing shelter and picnic areas, a natural playground, council ring, trail system, new kiosk, updated signage and stairs, bouldering sites, restroom facilities, and a fence around the park’s perimeter. Cost-effective partnerships with local climbing groups should be pursued for the development of bouldering sites and supporting trails. These improvements will significantly increase user activity. The table below includes a summary of all physical improvements and their projected costs.

E XHIBIT: 1 4 PHASE 1: IMPLEMENTATION PHYSICAL NEEDS SUMMARY AND BUDGET

“Phase 1: Priority Viewshed + Active Recreation”

4 4 H OWA R D K N OB PARK M ASTE R P LAN

Phase 1: Priority Viewshed & Active Recreation Amount Incidental Grading Large Viewing Platform 340 Railings for Decks 150 Wheelchair accessible overlook area 500 Paved Trail (ADA Accessible) 545 Demolition of existing pavement 972 Additional Parking Pavement 2109 Retaining walls for existing and additional parking 2145 Entry Sign Improvements Playground Features (inlcuding slide) Landscaping (materials and installation) Tree Removal --limited to limbing & grove area Park Kiosks 2 Signage 12 Council Ring: storytelling area with boulders & natural surface Shelter Improvements Waterless Vault Toilet (custom building not temporary) Trails 814 Ladders 1 Stairs-48 risers to climbing and trails 1 Park Perimeter Fence 1000 Railing along trails 1400 Phase 1 Subtotal Engineering + Permitting (18%) Mobilization (3%) Contingency (7%) Phase 1 Total LS= Lump Sum LF= Linear Foot CY = Cubic Yard SF = Square Foot

Unit LS SF LF SF LF SF SF SF LS Allow Allow LS EA EA Allow Allow Allow LF Each LS lf LF

Unit Cost $ $ $ $ $

500.00 65.00 50.00 70.00 8.00

$ $

7.00 30.00

$ $

7,000.00 800.00

$ $ $ $ $

5.00 500.00 18,000.00 30.00 45.00

SY= Square Yard Allow=Allowance

$ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $

Total Cost

28,650.00 170,000.00 9,750.00 25,000.00 38,150.00 7,776.00 14,763.00 64,350.00 14,000.00 75,000.00 28,000.00 12,000.00 14,000.00 9,600.00 22,000.00 55,000.00 125,000.00 4,070.00 500.00 18,000.00 30,000.00 63,000.00 828,609.00 149,149.62 24,858.27 58,002.63 1,060,619.52


PHASE 2: SUPPLEMENTAL TRAILS, VIEWSHED, AND FACILITIES The implementation of Phase 2 will further enhance park usability and accessibility. Features of this phase include updates to the remaining picnic area, improvements and additions to parking areas, the Northern Peaks Tower, new overlook deck and areas, “The Bowl” and new stairway, and walking trails. The table below includes a summary of all physical improvements and their projected costs.

E XHIBIT: 1 5 PHASE 2: IMPLEMENTATION PHYSICAL NEEDS SUMMARY AND BUDGET Phase 2: Supplemental Trails, Viewshed, and Facilities Incidental Grading Demolition of pavement Pavement Retaining walls for existing and additional parking Lower Viewing Deck Optional Northern Peaks Tower Trails Ladders New Furniture (benches and tables) Phase 2 Subtotal Engineering + Permitting (18%) Mobilization (3%) Contingency (7%) Phase 2 Total LS= Lump Sum CY = Cubic Yard

Amount 570 820 835 135 1186 1

LF= Linear Foot SF = Square Foot

Unit LS SF SF SF SF LS LF Each Allow

Unit Cost $ $ $ $

8.00 7.00 30.00 500.00

$ $

5.00 500.00

SY= Square Yard Allow=Allowance

$ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $

Total Cost

4,350.00 4,560.00 5,740.00 25,050.00 67,500.00 103,000.00 5,930.00 500.00 20,000.00 236,630.00 42,593.40 7,098.90 16,564.10 302,886.40

“Phase 2: Supplemental Trails, Viewshed, and Facilitiest”

B OON E, N C 4 5


H OWARD KN O B BOON E, N C


A

APPENDIX


A // appendix

APPENDIX A: STEERING COMMITTEE MEETING COMMENTS, (JULY 23 2018) •

Fence screening private property to the south may have been too “extreme” of a measure to quell issues with landowner-fencing located by lower

rock face

Importance of the clarity of the viewshed- a major driver of current park use

Creating programming opportunities for Summer Program/local groups with park development and additional amenities

Prioritization of facility amenities/phases & funding determining what gets excluded from the revitalization

Cross marketing other recreation/tourism opportunities at HKP

Navigating potential grant cycle conflicts with other local projects (Middle Fork & South Fork Greenways & Rec Center are council priority)

INTERPRETATION/SIGNAGE:

Matching tower location with windmill site?? Or interpretation for how proximate the original site was Educational signage to designate features within the viewshed Currently no interpretation for the windmill in the plan, should be added One-way direction for parking loop may need more signage to make more intuitive •

FACILITIES

Consideration should be given to how facilities weather at the park (elevation/moisture/weather/etc.) Railing where needed around the park for risk management/safety Tower:

Potential negative feedback from the community/public based on the current existence of dramatic views at the park

Approach/framing/selling of the tower through an historical point of view, calling it the “fire tower,” or interpreting it in relation to the former

NASA Windmill

Can the cell tower & viewing tower coexist as one structure? Can the cell tower be redesigned with more efficient technology? Using the roof

of the lookout tower for the antennas?

Phase 3 or 4 implementation

48

H OWA R D K N OB PARK M ASTE R P LAN


APPENDIX A: STEERING COMMITTEE MEETING COMMENTS, (CONTINUED) Vault Toilet:

User functionality/tourists’ aversion to more rugged toilet types of restroom facilities

Cost & cleaning of a vault toilet

A little more due diligence for toilet types/opportunities

Stage:

Would require more parking/shuttle/increased restrooms

Perhaps council ring more appropriate style for this type of programming

Programming for stage would gear towards naturalist talks

Must be sensitive to TOB and conflicting programming opportunities

Use of a mobile stage / smaller stage instead of permanent stage suggested

Removal of stage from plan suggested

Entrance:

More Rocky Knob-like entrance (instead of unsightly chain-link fence gate) suggested

Expense of such gateway, as well as property lines must be accounted for in analysis

Positive reception to revitalizing the current sign

Main Viewing Platform:

Balancing the marketing-effect of its visibility from downtown with potential unsightliness

Big draw for visitors/activity

Potential need for rendering of views from town to properly frame the idea for the public viewing

Can the larger viewing area (deck) be built with materials other than wood?

Platform/priority 1 items drive park use

B OON E, N C 49


A // appendix

APPENDIX A: STEERING COMMITTEE MEETING COMMENTS, (CONTINUED) Natural Play Area:

Playground/play area would drive programming & use, increasing community value for the park

Slide feature is “cool”/positively received + modest play area facilities should be pursued

Positive reception of slide idea-issues cited with playground equipment at Rocky Knob and sustainability/weathering of materials used

Walking Trail:

Important feature

Thought should be given to how internal park trails might connect to other outer trails

Bouldering:

Boone Climbers Coalition reference in plan to have access to develop trail & bouldering activity

Signage issues guiding people to the park from town

Explore addition of 1 or 2 parking spaces

Long Hope Valley development (?) tower as existing example of what tower could look like

Greene Property land acquisition: $1 million for 55 acres near Boone UMC trail/bouldering/surrounding land (Greene’s land w/o the house)

Provide Budget #’s for TDA mtg./presentation

PROJECT PRIORITIZATION:

Priority 1: Dressing Up Existing Facilities (Picnic Tables/Signage/Picnic Shelter) + Bathrooms Priority 2: Viewing Platform Priority 3: Walking Trail System + Play Area Priority 4: Tower + ?

5 0 H OWA R D K N OB PARK M ASTE R P LAN


APPENDIX B: PUBLIC MEETING COMMENTS, (AUGUST 21 2018)

Looks ok, take down the gate. Boone “Free to Be.”

Greatest thing ever. Try to get rid of the guy wires!

Love it! It’s beautiful & will be utilized in Boone for sure!

Great addition to Boone! Thank you for your work & I look forward to enjoying this space.

Looks great. ADA- wonderful

LOVE the slide! It will make the park different from all others!

YES! Reservation process for shelter? Close in one end of shelter & add fireplace (like Mt. Jefferson) to extend seasonal use.

Love. Plenty of parking. I am a fan of the slide.

B OON E, N C 5 1


A // appendix

APPENDIX C: HOWARD KNOB SURVEY RESULTS The Howard Knob Community Survey was distributed through social media paid advertising, receiving 263 total responses.

52

H OWA R D K N OB PARK M ASTE R P LAN


APPENDIX C: HOWARD KNOB SURVEY RESULTS, (CONTINUED)

B OON E, N C 53


A // appendix

APPENDIX C: HOWARD KNOB SURVEY RESULTS (CONTINUED)

54

H OWA R D K N OB PARK M ASTE R P LAN


APPENDIX C: HOWARD KNOB SURVEY RESULTS (CONTINUED)

B OON E, N C 5 5


A // appendix

APPENDIX C: HOWARD KNOB SURVEY RESULTS (CONTINUED)

SURVEY COMMENTS: • Signage to the park needed • No jungle gyms or swing sets. Leashed pets only (enforced). Keep it natural with the only sounds being weather and wildlife... • What is the requirement for the fence? Can the gates come off? • Love the park but just wish there were more amenities. The views are some of the best around and the size of the parcel the Town owns has a lot of potential for growth. • Please consider leaving the park open after sunset. • I fully support a dog park! • Went to ASU when windmill was there. Have taken friends and family back to view campus for 35 years!!!! Love view!!! • Don’t call it Howard Knob. Make it something people will want to talk about. • Outdoor fitness is a great idea. Definitely connect to trails so you don’t have to drive there or use the dangerous road walking • I am relatively new to Boone and hadn’t heard of this park. I have two small children and would be more likely to go to a park with a playground. Building a playground or a splash pad would make me very likely to visit this park. • I think that a trail to get up there is most important because locals, like myself, find the road up to it to be dangerous. I would still keep the park gated at night or the college kids will trash it • See note about the obnoxious rude man that bought the “black house” property. I’m a single female and don’t appreciate him harassing and threatening me. • This is where I would like to take all of our of town guests to show them our gorgeous area but the park is terrible, very unsafe, overgrown, neglected and kids use it to drink and make out. Not appealing right now but with so much potential! • Such a great space that is under utilized. No safe way to bike/hike to the park which further increases vehicle traffic on the road. Also limited hours which impact my ability to enjoy the park after work.

56

H OWA R D K N OB PARK M ASTE R P LAN


APPENDIX C: HOWARD KNOB SURVEY RESULTS (CONTINUED)

• I recall when this was a great place to ride up & view the town & sunsets. I have hated to see it go downhill & become grown up & neglected. Looking forward to this great asset being so again! Thanks for your interest! • Extended hours would be great - or perhaps a clear and honest explanation about WHY there are limited seasons and hours on the new signs would be helpful. • Please try to keep this park as natural as possible, therein lies it’s value. Commercializing it depreciates it. • There has been evidence of illegal drug activity in and outside the park gates. This needs to be addressed. • It would be great if this space was more available more of the year. • Boulders! We want boulders! • I think the closure times really limit the parks use. I would love to be able to star gaze, watch sunsets and sunrises, etc. I think access is poor except by car, there are no safe biking or walking/hiking options to reach the park. • I hope you are aware that a proposed asphalt plant is to be built in the 194 direction Tourist will love to visit and watch an asphalt plant churn out toxic smoke towards them. • The viewing area was poorly trimmed up. It looked brutally wacked. It is also very close to the conservancy and I worry people will go through all the wild Sarsaparilla. • It’s a view of our town that is hard to access, ridiculous hours and limited views . Could be wonderful picnic spot but old and needs renovation as well as signage to identify views. • Great space and views. • Howard Knob is a showpiece for the downtown Boone area with easy access from town and incredible views of our community and surrounding Appalachians. Let’s build a trail up from the Post Office to get to a newly renovated overlook. • Seasonal hours are frustrating because winter provides the best views with minimal foliage. Open the park year round.

B OON E, N C 57


A // appendix

APPENDIX C: HOWARD KNOB SURVEY RESULTS (CONTINUED)

• We hike and visit lots of parks and trails in the area but hardly visit Howards Knob because there isn’t enough to occupy more than 20 min. Some hiking trails and better picnic/shelter areas would open up a great resource that is close by for people to enjoy the views! • I feel the park is one of the most important tourism areas in the Boone area. It’s great to hear of a push to make the park more attractive and useable. It’s a real shame that it’s closed all winter. • Happy to see some movement happening to improve this beautiful but under utilized resource; would also be willing to help! • I love Howard’s Knob as a way to show all of Boone. I think having a way to watch the sunset would be ideal. And if there was a way to access the Howard’s Knob boulders. • The park would be a great sunset spot. Having it open dawn to dusk would really provide some great scenic viewing opportunities! • How about a replica of the NASA MOD-1 Wind turbine blade set up to be used like a giant 98’ long picnic table? • Allowing access to climbing. • Connecting a trail system to Howard’s Knob Park would make for a very rewarding hiking experience! • Make it awesome • I would use the park if one could actually see the view from up there. Connecting the trail that starts at BUMC to Howard’s Knob Park would be awesome. • The main improvement would be to add trails to get there safely on foot rather than having to drive. I don’t want to see much facility “improvement” because that would take away from its natural “wilderness” appeal. We already have plenty of “man made” park and playground areas in Boone. All it needs is a simple working restroom and a water fountain. • Please don’t ruin the park by putting a bunch of stuff up there. It’s a little upsetting to hear that trees and plants were cleared. Having natural “nooks” to enjoy the view and have private conversations were a large part of the appeal of this viewing spot compared to others. • Clean the park up. Hopefully more people will use it making it self policing. • I used to go to Howard’s Knob park years ago. I used to walk up the road to it. It’s a great workout, but traffic can make that dangerous. A trail to the park would be ideal. 58

H OWA R D K N OB PARK M ASTE R P LAN


APPENDIX C: HOWARD KNOB SURVEY RESULTS (CONTINUED)

• An observation tower in the middle of some green space with 360 degree views would be cool. • I’d love to have it available in the winter time when it’s not snowy/icy. • The site has such great potential. I’d love to see it improved! I’d love to be able to hike there from the Boone United Methodist church trail. • At a regional economic development scale, Howard Knob park has the opportunity to be “the park” that business owners could easily point tourists to for a picnic or quick hike. The park has a chance to be the face of outdoor recreation for Boone and Watauga County. Amenities such as signage, restrooms, etc. should respond accordingly and set the stage for what visitors can expect to see across the county.

B OON E, N C 59


A // appendix

APPENDIX D: HOWARD KNOB PARK COMMUNITY RESIDENTS’ LETTER ON NOV. 19, 2018, HOWARD KNOB PARK AREA RESIDENTS SENT A LETTER TO WATAUGA COUNTY AND TOWN OF BOONE LEADERSHIP REGARDING SECURITY AND OTHER CONCERNS ABOUT THE PARK. Greetings all, The Howards Knob residents (‘Residents’) hope to openly, transparently, and collaboratively engage Watauga County Commissioners and the Town of Boone leadership to bring about meaningful, actionable, accountable, and timely reform to Howards Knob County Park (Park). Our goal is to first make known the ongoing private and public liabilities not currently being addressed by the management of the Park. Second, we hope that such discussions will bring about short-term and long-term action plans with clearly identified accountabilities to implement changes that benefit the public’s right to use the limited acreage that is the Park while concurrently protecting and enforcing surrounding landowners’ rights to private landownership. The Residents appreciate the willingness of local leadership and public servants to engage our community regarding the Park. The subsequent paragraphs summarize some details for all recipients, especially those that are unfamiliar with the issues related to the Park and extending to privately owned properties. As you will read, there is an urgent need for a cross-functional collaboration between varying departments and branches of local government. The ongoing issues are not new. If you find this letter too long to read – then it is exactly this apathy and attitude that this letter seeks to address. Please read on. Howards Knob Mountain has long been a fixture of Boone and Watauga County. The park has been under the ownership and responsibility of Watauga County for many years. During such time, Howards Knob County Park has been a central theme and point of discussion for its value of marketing and recreational tourism for the Town of Boone and Watauga County. The latter strongly implies there is mutual interest by the Boone Town Council and Watauga County Commissions to manage the Park as a local resource, but in reality, it seems that there is misalignment of efforts between numerous stakeholders many of whom are included in this correspondence. Over the decades, the Park and surrounding land has morphed from a popular hang-gliding jump point and scenic vista, a bouldering play land for climbers, location of one of the first turbine windmills in the US, the “home” of the “red dot” house, and most recently, a community “county” park and communication tower waypoint. One constant of Howards Knob Mountain is the Park offers an accessible, isolated, opportunity for the public and property owners to enjoy nature along with high-elevation views of Boone. Howards Knob County Park may be unlike any other park in Watauga County in that it is mostly used as a loitering hotspot – when open and when closed including all hours of the day and night, year-round. It is possibly the only park completely surrounded by private property that does not have complete fencing or park boundary signage. The closest comparator is Junaluska City Park that has both fencing and a large amount of through traffic i.e., no dead end. Over the years, the properties on Howards Knob have changed ownership with opportunities for the public and the private sector to secure plots of land. Currently, the ~5-acre plot of land making up the Park is surrounded by private land which does not convey any right of use by the public except for the right to drive up Howards Knob Road to enter the Park. When the Park is closed, the small signs hung atypically high on a tree trunk to the left of the gate that states, “No Parking When Park is Closed” is completely ignored. Not only is that sign or multiple “No Trespassing” signs ignored, the small parking lot, roadway, and private property is used for parking and sightseeing regardless of the signage. It is absolutely stunning to witness the law-breaking 6 0 H OWA R D K N OB PARK M ASTE R P LAN


APPENDIX D: HOWARD KNOB COMMUNITY RESIDENTS’ LETTER

ignorance of tourists, residents, and students alike (many of which are repeat offenders). Where, in any town, in any state, is it acceptable to trespass on closed public or private property, with or without “No Trespassing” signage? This is a fundamental aspect of enforcement that begins from the top down. Namely, enforcement via the District Attorney and their office’s willingness (or unwillingness) to prosecute trespassing as a systemic reoccurring crime. Not enforcing/prosecuting such terrestrial rights/boundaries in the courts either provides absolution of accountability to the perpetrators thereby emboldening them to be repeat offenders, or prosecution of trespassing crimes becomes a top down approach to modulation criminal trespassing behavior via cause and effect outcomes which affect more than isolated cases involved i.e public perception as a whole. The roadway and private properties are not for public parking. This represents a situation where boundaries exist both on the road itself and off the road and where private and public ownership both have lawful responsibilities to uphold. As a matter of civil discourse and law, it is incumbent upon each party (Town of Boone and Watauga County) to respect and ensure that property boundaries and posted laws are upheld and all liabilities assumed with said ownership are mitigated to protect both the public’s interests and the private landowners’ interests. Signage without enforcement is futile, and enforcement without consequences is just what it sounds like…nothing except cost saving strategies and part of the root problem. In the past, seasonal residents mostly, if not solely, occupied the Howards Knob community. This meant there were few opportunities for residents and guests to witness or report infringements in the rights, responsibilities, and laws that are meant to protect landowners and the public. Additionally, Watauga County and the Town of Boone did not have one of its most important assets; the involvement and comprehensive feedback from its constituents – arguably the citizens who are most affected by the actions taken or not taken to manage the Park. The gap in feedback and accountability to the public appears to have created a laissez faire approach by the County in managing the Park as a valuable resource and safe public environment. Out of sight, out of mind - if no one is complaining or hurt, then nothing needs to be done. As a result, the County and Town leadership are placing the burden of LIABILITY on the Residents by failing to adequately secure and monitor this remote and isolated park from unauthorized loitering, littering, trespassing, and possibly other unlawful activities. The most egregious result of this inaction is that it transfers the risk of trespassers’ personal safety and liability of injury/fatality on the surrounding landowners. The abundant opportunities to trespass on public and private land combined with the inherent topography of the land (i.e., rock ledges that drop 30+ feet onto granite boulders) both in and out of the Park makes the area very dangerous during the day and, even more so, at night. Numerous full-time residents now occupy Howards Knob Mountain and with that reality comes a new sense of community awareness and expected accountability by the town and local government who seek to benefit from the Park. If over the past years Monte Green or George Bartholomew have not made this clear, then please allow a homegrown resident of Boone and Watauga County to state the following: Watauga County and local leadership are failing to effectively manage Howards Knob County Park on behalf of the public’s best interest and in doing so are passing the associated liabilities and neglect to the surrounding landowners, the public, and Sheriffs Office. It should not be and is not the residents’ job to police the Watauga County’s neglected property to ensure our individual property rights and laws are respected. To respond by saying it is not the Residents’ responsibility to police the Park is to suggest that local law enforcement is/was doing so without intervention from the community. Please provide long-term data, logs, citations numbers, and court outcomes that objectively demonstrate the County and local stakeholders are or have taken action? Periodic police presence in the last couple of weeks, unfortunately, does not make up for the apparent disparity over years during which this problem was created. If this statement offends anyone, then I welcome the opportunity to be proven wrong with substantive information and action. As I have said before and will reemphasize, despite some meetings,

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APPENDIX D: HOWARD KNOB PARK COMMUNITY RESIDENTS’ LETTER the lack of action, thus far, places surrounding homeowners in a position to not only defend our rights/privacy as residents, but it also contributes to our increased liability from trespassing by the public on land that private owners are liable to mitigate - personal injury, fire hazards (which is a separate topic of concern), and beyond. Why should residents accept the liabilities created by the County when there are no measurable actions being made by the County to deter trespassing? Why should the Sheriff’s Department be tasked with making up for the shortcomings of other Watauga County departments/committee’s that have an obligation to maintain and manage the Park? Let me be clear that sending emails and scheduling meetings are not sufficient actionable results – the latter is managerial fluff and a waste of taxpayers’ money when not followed through with concrete actions. Additionally, exciting Master Plans such as that proposed by Destination By Design and colorful marketing proposals (RFPs) not rooted in the park’s financial or geographic realities and are a waste of taxpayers’ money and time especially when the most basic of details cannot be implemented in a timely fashion or without disenfranchising the surrounding community. The apparent apathy, community stalemate, and inaction show in the Park’s current upkeep e.g gates, fencing, boundary signs, and Park signage. Additionally, the Sheriff Department’s discretionary enforcement, which may be attributed to the courts unwillingness to prosecute trespassers, only enables and emboldens recurring offenders, vehicle traffic, cycles of people trespassing on public and private land, and cars loitering at any available pull off on Howards Knob Road (sometimes in the middle of the road). Howards Knob Road and the surrounding private property are not for public use. As Residents, we repeatedly witness trespassing, are compelled to confront violators, and have documented many reoccurring trespassers (per license plate ID) leaving public and private land. Repeatedly, when trespassers and loiterers see community members holding them accountable by documenting the offense via camera/video – it brings about risk to the Residents even though they are simply doing their civic duty to report crime or in protecting their right as private landowners. Regrettably, the “discretionary” enforcement approach, which should NOT be the first line of actionable deterrence, has fostered a clear sense of “entitlement” by the public who act as if they are due their right to climb under or over the grossly inadequate park gate (which sits on the private property of Mr. Green) or walk/climb on private property to access the park. The public’s “groomed” entitlement goes beyond public trespassing to the point of taking pictures from Residents’ property; hiking on our property; using our driveways; and even using our decks as a viewing platform – this is on top of the blatant trespassing everyday the Park is closed. Each recurring action has become an infringement on our rights as property owners and impacts even the simplest of daily activities especially when the Park is closed. It is wrong (at the very least) that my quality of life, my child’s safety, and the quality of life of other Residents are adversely affected by the inability of local leaders to come together in a timely and actionable manner to bring about park security updates along with actionable improvements to the Park. Make no mistake; each and every resident of this mountain sees it as a privilege to live here along with the stewardship that comes along with maintaining the mountain’s current status of beauty, safety, and serenity. The community very much appreciates the response(s) of the Sheriff Deputies in recent days, and we understand their frustration in being pulled in different directions throughout Watauga County, as there is a lot of acreage to cover. Law enforcement plays a critical role in maintaining public accountability as well as mitigate mischievous behavior via citing violators AND prosecuting violators. However, the isolation of the Park combined with the County’s inability to create and implement an actionable park management plan (inclusive of security and resources management) has placed an unjust burden on Watauga County Sheriff and the surrounding community. We should not have to call repeatedly on a given day because of what the Residents witness by proximity. The level of frustration has delicately, respectful, indirectly, and directly been communicated in past years. The facts, if collected, are Howards Knob does have the same crimes as other areas of Watauga County – the County and Town of Boone leadership do not live here to see it day-to-day and have not 62

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been held accountable by full-time residents in the past. To be very clear, this is not an indictment of the Sheriff and its Deputies – to the contrary- it is a call to action of the County Board of Commissioners; Watauga County Tourism Development Authority; Boone Tourism Development Authority, Boone Town Council; and Advisory Board to Watauga County Parks and Recreation to come together and take ownership, measurable and accountable actions, and shared enforcement of Howards Knob County Park boundaries and the laws governing the park’s use. Now more than ever is time to take action to protect and leverage Howards Knob Park as a keystone fixture of our community - with the support of local residents. It is time to protect the surrounding landowners/stewards of this mountain from liabilities that Watauga County has caused and is fully aware of. These issues are not just Watauga County’s to address because many of the users originate from ASU, the Town of Boone, and tourists; there are many photos and a detailed list of license plates to crossreference to demonstrate this and we have/will make them available online. Resolving the issue(s) requires collaboration and resources from the Town of Boone, Watauga County, District Attorney’s Office, and ASU Administrators to properly manage the valuable resource this park is for all visitors. Yet we hear the Town of Boone, which promotes Howards Knob as a Boone attraction, openly absolves itself of financial and other positive influences they could offer to the Park. This lack of shared ownership and accountability in managing this treasured resource must change from the top-down to better align the Public’s best interests along with the private citizens/landowners rights and responsibilities. In closing, the Residents via have compiled just a hand of the pictures and data on hand to validate the neglect, risk, and liability that is knowingly or unknowingly being assumed and transferred to private landowners and the public by Watauga County’s inaction. The links are as follows: January 2018 - https://photos.app.goo.gl/EXCNpiZUGbSXRRJaA February 2018 - https://photos.app.goo.gl/V2ALJeowR4SaLPDE7 March 2018 - https://photos.app.goo.gl/Y1pz2XF8DQs3xD9k7 April 2018 - https://photos.app.goo.gl/GnRr7U6iJvnaAmQi9 October 2018 (after the 20th) - https://photos.app.goo.gl/qN5o963V2hKbj3TQ8 November 2018 - https://photos.app.goo.gl/LvvRHiAzajQbQrTo6 Additionally, we would like to ask some questions to better understand what has been done to advance our concern to tangible action. Your cooperation and input is very much appreciated. Providing this public information for all of our consolidated/transparent viewing, is intended to help streamline a collective understanding of what has/has not been done and what needs to be worked on as a group with a common goal to improve Howards Knob County Park and reduce its liability. There should be at least one person who can provide substantive feedback on each question below, and if no one can then we kindly ask parties of this email to identify the most appropriate individuals to comment, be it Howards Knob Master Plan leadership spearheaded by the Watauga County Tourism Development Authority, High Country Recreation, Watauga County Commissioners and/or Town of Boone elected officials. Without consolidated transparency in determining specific benchmarks for improvement, we will continue to have a lack of accountability at every level and inaction that is detrimental to Watauga County, Boone, surrounding residents of the Park, and trespassers alike.

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APPENDIX D: HOWARD KNOB PARK COMMUNITY RESIDENTS’ LETTER 1. How many citations have been written for trespassing/loitering at Howards Knob County Park per year with focus on the last 3 years? 2. What are the prevalence numbers and rates of convictions for trespassing in our district? 3. How many dispatched calls are made each year to Howards Knob (by residents and by standalone patrol)? 4. How much (relative or exact) does each dispatch cost per Sheriff unit? Time is money among other aspects of being called to the Park. At some point, the duty of the Deputies to respond and the cost of dispatching deputies to the Park will become more financially and resource intensive than placing for example a “Tsunami Systems” camera at the gates to monitor traffic, loitering, and trespassing at the Park. It is assumed that private residents are responsible for their property’s security monitoring and such a suggestion is to serve the County needs. This request is for quantitative data that will help justify technology for “us” to work smarter and not harder (less efficient). https://www.wataugademocrat.com/news/eyes-up-high-surveillance-camerasandpolicing- in-downtown-boone/article_13523969-f392-533c-94b9-3e72fa98dbef.html 5. If the residents stopped calling law enforcement on an almost daily basis when the park is closed; how would authorities know that people are trespassing, as often happens, during closure, including late at nights and early morning? This is not a philosophical question; it is a practical question of enforcement because unlike other community parks, Howard Knob is isolated from EVERYONES view except the residents. Please help us understand how this has or is currently taking place? 6. In working with Destination by Design and spending over $50,000 on plans that arguably misrepresent many aspects of the parks possible features and boundaries, what has the return on investment been in dollars or other quantifiable evidence? We ask because we are told funds are limited to bring about meaningful improvements to the park’s security (something as basic as bolstering the parks gate or completing fencing which currently does not completely enclose and/or define the park’s boundaries). 7. What are the last 3 facial year Budget amounts allocated to the maintenance, upkeep, and security of the Park? 8. In the linked article, parties are quoted by the Watauga Democrat as saying, “The board liked the ideas presented and asked about the neighboring private lands. Woolridge said that’s an issue that can likely only be solved by time in the next five to 10 years.” What proposal and dialogue has Mr. Woolridge provided to the surrounding landowners or TDA to clarify this presumptive comment if said statement was accurately represented? Additionally, one of largest stakeholders of this project (the resident property owners) were not contacted directly or indirectly by Destination by Design. https://www. wataugademocrat.com/news/watauga-tda-reviews-proposedhoward- knob-master-plan/article_237711b0-4692-58b5-9f79-6271dae8e027.html 9. How many people use the park each year to factually discuss both pedestrian and car traffic coming to and using the park? If this information does not exist, then how are decisions being made for the need to obtain additional funding/resources via National, State, and Local pathways? Howards Knob Road is not lined (the state painted ridiculously sloppy road lines only to tar/gravel over them one week later) or wide enough to support the speeding traffic up and down this mountain. There is not enough room on the road for two cars worth of lanes let alone the pedestrians who walk/bicycle up and down the mountain with vehicles speeding by and no shoulder or sidewalk to travel on. Is there appreciation for the pedestrian/bicycle traffic leading up to and on Howards Knob Road?

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10. What options that have been explored in recent months to resolve the issues at Howards Knob County Park and surrounding private property? Are meeting minutes available from the public servant discussion(s) to help the residents better understand and help combat obstacles that prevent this collective team from advancing this dialogue past yet another meeting followed by inaction? 11. What strategies have been employed in recent years to raise funds for Howards Knob County Park similar to those undertaken for the new skate park, Rocky Knob, and other community parks? Beyond the Howards Knob Park limited acreage and isolation, how is the park similar and different to other country parks currently commanding more funding and attention? 12. Why is the park closed during the season in which heavy traffic would be expected (i.e., “leaf lookers/vacationers” and the extra 20,000 plus temporary residents of Boone who attended ASU and often frequent the park)? One cannot help but wonder if the closure creates the desire and opportunity to trespass in the park by visitors easily breaching the gate or walking on private property. 13. What updates to signs (not wayfinding) have been discussed and implemented? For example signs such as Dead End; No Outlet; No Parking Anytime, No Loitering; Towing Enforced at Owner Expense? There have been numerous requests for simple sign corrections, updates, and/or additions, which have not occurred for months and of which directly contribute to the selfproclaimed ignorance of many violators that trespass, litter, and loiter (up and down) on Howards Knob Road especially when the park is closed. Something as simple as taking down the OPEN sign cannot be accomplished despite it taking less than five minutes with a wrench. 14. What constructive role do the decision-makers envision the property owners of Howards Knob have in the effort to establish and maintain a lawabiding, safe, enjoyable environment in and immediately surrounding the park? 15. Finally, who is the Project Manager/Public servant (name) responsible for overseeing this topic? Specially, who is directly accountable? If it is multiple individuals, please provide an organization chart that identifies who and what role each has in advancing this public issue to actionable improvement. Committees abound, but whom does the buck stop with? -Kind Regards Howards Knob Community Residents (19-Nov-2018)

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Profile for DbD Planning

Howard Knob Park Master Plan -- Draft for Public Review  

Howard Knob Park is a 5.7-acre park located just north of downtown Boone, NC. This master plan was developed in partnership with the Watauga...

Howard Knob Park Master Plan -- Draft for Public Review  

Howard Knob Park is a 5.7-acre park located just north of downtown Boone, NC. This master plan was developed in partnership with the Watauga...