Imagine Watauga - Action Plan

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A 15-YEAR TOURISM ACTION PLAN FOR BOONE AND WATAUGA COUNTY, NC >> F A L L 2 0 2 3 <<



PRODUCED FOR:

PRODUCED BY:


ACKNOWLEDGMENTS WATAUGA COUNTY TDA

TOWN OF BOONE

FOCUS GROUP CONTRIBUTORS

Board of Directors Matt Vincent.................Chairman Tony Gray.......................Vice-Chair Lisa Martin Kim Rogers Jim Neustadt Brad Moretz Tina Houston

Staff Amy Davis......................Town Manager Jane Shook....................Director of Planning & Inspections

Recreation Paul Stahlschmidt........Recreation Management, ASU Wendy Patoprsty.........Middle Fork Greenway Director,

Staff L. Wright Tilley..............Executive Director Emily Neeley..................Director of P.R. & Social Media Hope Thingelstad.........Director of Tourism Outreach

Blue Ridge Conservancy

Town Council Tim Futrelle...................Mayor Edie Tugman.................Mayor Pro Tem Todd Carter...................Council Member Virginia Roseman.........Council Member Dalton George..............Council Member Becca Nenow................Council Member

Board of Commissioners Larry Turnbow..............Chairman Charlie Wallin................Chairman Todd Castle Braxton Eggers Ray Russell Staff Deron Geouque............County Manager

Economic Development Julie Wiggins.................Executive Director, High Country Council of Governments

Joe Furman...................Director of Economic Development, Boone Chamber of Commerce

David Jackson...............President and CEO of the Boone Area Chamber of Commerce

VIDEO INTERVIEWEES WATAUGA COUNTY

Stephen Poulos............Watauga County Parks & Recreation Melissa Weddell...........Recreation Management, ASU

Jennifer Greene...........Appalachian Regional Health Wendy Patoprsty.........Blue Ridge Conservancy L. Wright Tilley..............Watauga County Tourism Development Authority

Erin Welsh......................Valle Crucis Historic Preservation Commission

Kristian Jackson............Rocky Knob Park / ASU Amber Bateman...........Watauga Arts Council

Talia Freeman................Director of Marketing, Beech Mountain Resort and Boone CoC

Kelly Coffey...................Senior Planner, High Country Council of Governments

Arts and Culture Amber Bateman...........Watauga Arts Council (WAC) Maggie Flanigan...........WAC Board Bob Meier......................Doe Ridge Pottery Gabe Wilson..................WAC Board Chair and BRAHM Katie Jensen..................BRAHM Marrena Greer..............SAHA Frances Keel..................ASU Leila Jackson.................Blue Ridge Conservancy Zachary S. Johnson......WNC Sculpture Lisa Cooper....................Mast General Store Andrea Connell.............Todd General Store Courtney Wheeler.......WAC Board John Bond.....................Artist Amy Forester................WAC Board Lori Hill...........................Art Teacher Kathy Parham................Children’s Playhouse


FOCUS GROUP CONTRIBUTORS CONT’D Environment Charlie Brady.................Blue Ridge Conservancy Brian Crutchfield..........Blue Ridge Energy (Retired) Andy Hill.........................Mountain True/ Watauga Riverkeeper Eric Smallwood.............Watauga County Parks & Recreation (former)

Active Living Angela McMann...........Western Youth Network Hannah Margolis..........Western Youth Network Lindsey Sullivan............Health Promotion Director, App Health Liz Whiteman................Executive Director, Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture

Randy Johnson.............Author Kristian Jackson............Rocky Knob Park Trail Boss, Rocky Knob Park/ASU

Downtown Boone Focus Group Denise Lovin & Fulton Lovin...............Owners of Pads for Grads, Former Owners & Developers of the Horton Hotel. Denise is also VP of DBDA Board

Suzeanne Livesay.........Executive Director for App Theatre Megan Mason...............Director of Communications, Boone Chamber of Commerce

Tim Furtrelle..................Mayor of Boone Lane Moody...................Downtown Development Coordinator Brad Farthing................Admin Assistant/Social Media and Events for Jones House (Cultural Resources Department)

COVE CREEK PRESERVATION & DEVELOPMENT David Tyner...................CCP&D Chair Lara Mast.......................CCP&D Treasurer Shelli McGinnis..............CCP&D Vice Chair

VALLE CRUCIS Margaret Love..............Director Valle Crucis Conference Center

SOUTHERN APPALACHIAN HISTORICAL ASSOCIATION (HORN IN THE WEST) Marrena Greer..............Operations Manager, SAHA

Eric Hiegl........................Director of Land Protection, Blue Ridge Conservancy

Erin Welsh, Chair..........VCHP Susan Mast....................DVM, Mast Mobile Pet Care Melody Pineda..............Owner, Mast Farm Inn Bert Travis......................Manager, Mast Farm Inn Heidi Tester...................Buyer, Mast General Store Alyson Browett.............Community member, Valle Crucis Lisa Cooper....................Owner, Mast General Store Gardner Hoover............Director, Valle Crucis Park Julie Gates.....................Valle Crucis Community Council Tracey Heiss...................Valle Crucis Community Council / Valle Crucis Community Park

JD Dooley......................Valle Crucis Community Council /

FOSCOE GRANDFATHER COMMUNITY CENTER Frank Agate Margie Aldridge Catherine Bare Frank Cuylon Shane Bare Todd Hodges Denise Stahl Brad Lang Wesley Crum Nate Wright

Valle Crucis Community Park

MOUNTAINEER RURITAN (COVE CREEK) Mark Trivette................President Emory Pavel Roger Atkins

GREEN VALLEY / TODD Nancy Moretz................Treasurer, Green Valley Community Park, Inc.

Denny Norris.................Board Member, Green Valley Community Park, Inc.

Chris Laine.....................Past President, Green Valley Community Park, Inc.

DEEP GAP RURITAN Leslie Gentry.................President Loretta Gentry Bencita Brooks Billie Rogers Jeff Stewart Gretchen Baldwin Marie Greene

Bob Scouten..................Board Member, Green Valley Community Park, Inc.

Kelly McCoy...................Owner, River Girl Fishing Co. Renata Dos Santos.......River Girl Fishing Co.

TODD COMMUNITY PRESERVATION ORGANIZATION Deirdra Piegari..............President and Board Chair Rick Weavil.....................Treasurer Lisa Weavil


Contents 1

Background & Purpose

2

Discovery & Analysis

3

Public Engagement & Emerging Themes

1.1 Project Background...10

2.1 Regional Context.......20

1.2 Project Goals..............11

2.2 Demographics............22

3.1 Tools of Engagement................40

1.3 Planning Process........14

2.3 Previous Planning Efforts.........................24

3.2 Community Partners & Engagement............42

2.4 Asset Inventory..........28

3.3 Community Survey.....46

1.4 Plan Organization......16

3.4 Emerging Themes......48

4

Plan Recommendations

5

Implementation

A

Appendix

1. Federal and State Parks & Trails.................52

5.1 General Recommendations...120

A.1 Northern Peaks Strategic Trail Plan...130

2. Regional and Local Parks & Trails.................60

5.2 Implementation Matrix........................121

3. Rural Villages................74

5.3 Key Grant Funding Opportunities...........126

A.2 Winklers Creek Town of Boone and Boone Area Cyclists Resolution.................131

4. Town of Boone..............92


MAPS MAP 01: Regional Context ....................................21

MAP 07: Watauga River Paddle Trail.....................71

MAP 02: Asset Inventory.......................................31

MAP 08: New River Paddle Accesses.....................73

MAP 03: Federal and State Parks & Trails.............53

MAP 09: Rural Villages Map...................................75

MAP 04: Northern Peaks State Trail......................57

MAP 10: Valle Crucis Trail Connectivity................77

MAP 05: Grandfather Mountain State Park GMP Trail Project Overview....................59

MAP 11: Proposed Valle Crucis Conference Center Trail System.................................79

MAP 06: Regional and Local Focus Areas..............61

MAP 12: Connectivity Map.....................................94

EXHIBITS EXH 01: Celebrating Success.................................12

EXH 13: Boone Greenway Signage System...........97

EXH 02: Blue Ridge Conservancy Leads the NPST Planning Efforts.......................56

EXH 14: A New Perspective for King and Depot...99

EXH 03: Middle Fork Greenway & Boone Gorge Park....................................63 EXH 04: MFG New Bridge.......................................64 EXH 05: Creating an Accessible Boone View for Everyone....................................69 EXH 06: Old Valle Crucis School Conceptual Master Plan...........................80

EXH 15: King and Depot: Streetscape Site Plan.100 EXH 16: Exploring a Downtown Green @ King St. Pay Lot..................................102 EXH 17: Site Plan: Downtown Green @ King St. Pay Lot..................................104 EXH 18: Perspective Rendering: Downtown Green @ King St. Pay Lot.......................106 EXH 19: Downtown Boone Wayfinding...............108

EXH 07: Old Valle Crucis School Conceptual Perspective...........................82

EXH 20: Boone Gateway Signage........................109

EXH 08: Cove Creek Park Conceptual Master Plan...............................................85

EXH 21: Daniel Boone Park Master Plan (2012)......................................................111

EXH 09: Proposed Cove Creek Artisans Market...86

EXH 22: Jaycees Park Conceptual Master Plan..112

EXH 10: Green Valley.............................................91

EXH 23: Winklers Creek Park...............................115

EXH 11: Highway 421 Multi-use Path Rendering..95

EXH 24: Winklers Creek Park Conceptual Master Plan.............................................116

EXH 12: Horn in the West Drive One-way Rendering..................................96

EXH 25: Guiding Principles..................................120



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Background & Purpose 1.1 Project Background 1.2 Project Goals 1.3 Planning Process 1.4 Plan Organization

The Imagine Watauga Action Plan provides strategic direction to the Watauga County and Boone Tourism Development Authorities (TDAs) as they invest in critical tourism infrastructure projects in the coming years. This chapter highlights the plan purpose, goals, processes, and overall organization.


1.1

PROJECT BACKGROUND In accordance with state law, the Watauga County and Boone Tourism Development Authorities (TDAs) have the responsibility of collecting and managing the six percent occupancy tax that is levied on all stays in lodging accommodations such as hotels, B&Bs, and short-term vacation rentals located within each jurisdiction. Occupancy tax revenues are used to market and promote the area as an attractive tourist destination and improve the built environment through investments in “tourism-related capital infrastructure” projects. A minimum of two-thirds of revenues may be used for program administration and marketing, while up to one-third of revenues may be invested in the built environment, which is the focus of this plan. In 2011, the Watauga County TDA adopted the Boone Area Outdoor Recreation Plan to provide a roadmap for how to strategically invest in tourism infrastructure projects. Thanks to strong occupancy tax receipts and quality partnerships, significant portions of the plan have been successfully implemented, including the creation of Rocky Knob Mountain Bike Park, multiple new kayak accesses along the Watauga and New Rivers, extensions of the South Fork Greenway, construction of multiple sections of the Middle Fork Greenway, and the creation of the Northern Peaks State Trail. With a plan that is now more than 10 years old, TDA leadership has decided once again to re-engage local citizens, leaders, and partners to cast a renewed vision for tourism infrastructure development.

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The purpose of the Imagine Watauga Action Plan is to create a 15-year vision for how both the Watauga County and Boone TDAs can make best use of available capital infrastructure funding to build projects that help improve the visitor experience and grow tourism. Unlike the Boone Area Outdoor Recreation Plan, the Imagine Watauga Action Plan extends beyond outdoor recreation, and also examines opportunities for expanding arts and culture within both the unincorporated areas of Watauga County and within the Town of Boone.

The Imagine Watauga Action Plan replaces the 2011 Outdoor Recreation Master Plan and casts a new 15-year vision for how the TDAs can make the best use of the available capital infrastructure funding to build projects that help improve the visitor experience and grow tourism. Background & Purpose


1.2

PROJECT GOALS Local tourism leaders rely on strategic planning to best steward the limited resources and to ensure each project supported contributes toward a larger vision. The Imagine Watauga Action Plan includes six (6) primary goals, including:

ASSETS

UNITY

Inventory existing quality-of-life assets within the Town of Boone and Watauga County and evaluate their current condition and ability to provide for a quality user experience.

Identify projects that also help achieve broader community goals, such as young adult and workforce retention, small business growth, environmental quality, and active living.

PARTNERS

VISUAL

Engage government and community leaders to identify projects currently being planned and developed that will enhance quality-of-life for locals and visitors.

Create a plan that generates interest and casts an inspiring vision by creating compelling renderings, site master plans, 3-D illustrations, and other graphics to effectively communicate recommendations.

GAPS

STRATEGY

Identify new, innovative tourism infrastructure projects that promote the outdoor economy.

Provide the Tourism Development Authorities and their partners with clear strategies and a prioritization schedule for implementing the 15-year action plan.

Background & Purpose

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EXH 01: CELEBRATING SUCCESS The WCTDA and its partners have successfully implemented or advanced many of the initiatives identified in the Boone Area Outdoor Recreation Plan. Some key success stories, include: • Rocky Knob Mountain Bike Park: the county’s first purpose-built single-track trail system • The development of two river accesses along the Watauga River Paddle Trail: Upper Gorge Access and Guy Ford Access • The development of two river accesses along the New River Paddle Trail: Pine Run Access and Green Valley Access • Construction of multiple sections of the Middle Fork Greenway • The Northern Peaks State Trail received state trail status • Watauga County wayfinding

Rocky Knob Bike Park


Watauga Wayfinding

Green Valley River Access

Middle Fork Greenway

Pine Run Access

Guy Ford River Access

Northern Peaks State Trail


1.3

PLANNING PROCESS

PHASE 1 : DIRECTION SETTING & PROJECT LAUNCH The consultant team conducted a direction-setting meeting with the TDAs to establish project goals and timelines. A unique plan identity and website were created to inform the public about the planning process and build excitement.

The Imagine Watauga Action Plan is the result of more than a year of data gathering, information analysis, field work, site design, and dozens of stakeholder meetings. This planning process featured five (5) major phases, including:

March-August 2022

March-September 2022

PHASE 2 : RESEARCH & ANALYSIS The consultant team conducted site visits and an extensive field analysis to understand key opportunities and constraints, developed an inventory of existing tourism assets, and reviewed previous planning efforts that might have implications on the Imagine Watauga Action Plan.

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Background & Purpose


PHASE 5 : FINAL PLAN PREPARATION PHASE 3 : STAKEHOLDER & PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT

The consultant team compiled the final plan document to incorporate community input and provide implementation recommendations.

The consultant team produced a custom video that features interviews with local leaders and informed the public about the purpose of Imagine Watauga and opportunities for input. Community partners and stakeholder groups were engaged through personal interviews and focus group meetings. The public also provided input through a community survey.

May-December 2022

January 2023-June 2023

July 2023-November 2023

PHASE 4 : VISION & PLAN FRAMEWORK The consultant team created a plan framework that featured preliminary recommendations for improving and expanding the County’s tourism-related assets. The TDAs and consultant team also sought input from community members during public meetings.

Background & Purpose

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1.4

PLAN ORGANIZATION Imagine Watauga is organized into five (5) major chapters as outlined below. 1) Background & Purpose 2) Discovery & Analysis 3) Public Engagement & Emerging Themes 4) Plan Recommendations 5) Implementation

CHAPTER 1: BACKGROUND & PURPOSE The current chapter, which outlines the plan’s purpose, goals, process, and organization.

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Background & Purpose

CHAPTER 2: DISCOVERY & ANALYSIS A snapshot of the County’s regional setting, demographic trends, and previous planning efforts are presented here. The chapter also includes an inventory and analysis of the many tourism assets found throughout the county which are organized into three (3) major asset types, each interrelated and directly connected to the tourism economy of Watauga County.


CHAPTER 3: PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT & EMERGING THEMES The tools used for public engagement during the planning process are described in this chapter, as are the diverse TDA partner organizations. The chapter culminates with the results of a countywide survey and identifies emerging themes that set the stage for subsequent infrastructure recommendations.

CHAPTER 4: PLAN RECOMMENDATIONS

CHAPTER 5: IMPLEMENTATION

This chapter is organized according to the four (4) Action Plan Focus Areas as identified during the planning process: 1) Federal and State Parks and Trails 2) Regional and Local Parks and Trails 3) Rural Villages, and 4) the Town of Boone. This chapter is supported by extensive custom illustrations and design schematics.

This chapter provides a comprehensive matrix of all infrastructure recommendations, prioritization and implementation strategies, an estimate of probable costs for key projects, and an outline of possible grant funding sources.

Background & Purpose

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Discovery & Analysis 2.1 Regional Context 2.2 Demographics 2.3 Previous Planning Efforts 2.4 Asset Inventory

This chapter examines the regional context, demographics, and relevant past planning efforts that have occurred in the County. It also provides a recreation-centric asset inventory highlighting existing resources, and in some cases, planned facilities.


2.1

REGIONAL CONTEXT This section examines the County in relation to its local geography, primary transportation corridors, and natural resources. Watauga County is in the Mountain Region of Western North Carolina and includes many of the highest peaks found in the Blue Ridge Mountains. The County’s diverse topography ranges approximately 4,550 feet from its lowest point where Elk Creek exits the County near Triplett (1400 feet) to its highest point at Calloway Peak atop Grandfather Mountain (5,946 feet). Watauga County is mountainous, and all of the county’s terrain is located within the Appalachian Mountains range. Boone, the county’s largest city and county seat, has the highest elevation (3,333 feet) of any city over 10,000 population in the Eastern United States. The Eastern Continental Divide follows the ridge of Grandfather Mountain which includes Calloway Peak, the highest elevation along the eastern escarpment of the Blue Ridge. Many headwaters of the Watauga River are found along the northern slopes of Grandfather Mountain and contribute to the outstanding water resources of the Watauga

River Basin. The Watauga flows mostly east and north through the County before diverting back to the west and forming the boundary with Avery County, then entering Tennessee and Watauga Lake. The Watauga joins the Holston River, a major tributary of the Tennessee River, before ultimately reaching the Ohio River and co-mingling there with the waters of the New River, which also originate in Watauga County. The waters discharged from both the New River and the Watauga River basins eventually reach the Gulf of Mexico via the Mississippi River. The source and headwaters of both the South and North Fork New Rivers are in Watauga County. Watauga County is bounded by five counties: Avery County is located to the southwest and Wilkes County is to the east; Ashe County is to the northeast and Johnson County, Tennessee forms the northern border; Caldwell County is along the southern boundary and Wilkes County is to the east and southeast. US Highways 321 and 421, in addition to NC 105, provide the primary transportation routes through the County. The metropolitan areas of Asheville, Hickory, Johnson City, and Winston-Salem are all within an easy drive.

The Pisgah National Forest consists of less than 400 acres within the County, but more than 77,000 acres are situated just to the south in adjacent Avery and Caldwell Counties. The Blue Ridge Parkway traverses the southern part of the County for approximately 26 miles with access points in the communities of Blowing Rock, Aho, Rutherwood, and Deep Gap. The Mountains-to-Sea and future Northern Peaks State Trails comprise a burgeoning regional trail network for the enjoyment of outdoor adventurers.

Approximately eighty percent of the county is forested, most of which is found on private lands, but there are also significant conservation lands held in trust, and managed park lands within the boundaries of the National Park Service and the NC State Park system.

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Discovery & Analysis


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Map 01: REGIONAL CONTEXT

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2.2

DEMOGRAPHICS This section explores population, income, and employment data for Watauga County residents as reported by the U.S. Census Bureau and NC Department of Commerce. Watauga County has an area of 312 square miles and in 2020 was home to an estimated 54,086 residents. Of the people living in the County, fiftyfive percent are classified as rural and forty-five percent as urban. According to the 2020 decennial census the population of Watauga County saw significant growth from 2010 to 2020, rising from 51,079 to 54,086, an increase of 5.9 percent, or 3,007 residents. Watauga County now ranks 34 of 100 North Carolina counties in total population. From 2010 to 2020 the Town of Boone accounted for 66 percent of the overall population growth in the County. During this timeframe Boone added 1,970 residents and grew from 17,122 to 19,072, an increase of 11.5 percent. By comparison, the total population of Boone ranks 51st of all 552 North Carolina municipalities and 185th out of the 543 Micropolitan Statistical Areas in the United States. Seventy-one percent of the Watauga County population is between the ages of 18-64, or is considered working age, and the median age is 32.7. The per capita income in 2020 was $27,962 while the median annual household income was $46,453. County residents earn less compared with both the North Carolina average income ($31,993) and median household income ($56,642). The

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County performed slightly lower in comparison with the 2020 national per capita income ($35,384) while the national median household income was significantly higher ($64,994). With an unemployment rate of only 3.7% in 2021, the largest employment sectors in the County include educational services, retail trade, health care, and accommodation/food services. The relationship between where people work and where people live is an important factor in understanding the local economy. According to the US Census Bureau, Watauga County workers have an average commute time of around 20 minutes, while approximately 8 percent work from home. Those residents who commute outside the County for jobs work mostly in adjacent communities, although many (1,979) travel relatively long distances to larger labor markets in areas such as Buncombe, Mecklenburg, Catawba, and Forsyth Counties. Workers coming from other states (primarily Tennessee) account for roughly 8 percent of all county workers. In 2021, there were 7,992 residents leaving the County for their primary employment and 11,195 workers entering the county for jobs, resulting in a daily net gain of 3,203 commuters. During 2019 there were 22,230 jobs in Watauga County and less than half (11,035) were held by someone both living and employed in Watauga County.

Discovery & Analysis


Population by age category

Total Population

Age

71%

54,086 *2020 US Decennial Census

32.7

18 to 64

Median age Compared to 38.9 in North Carolina and 38.2 in the United States.

Under 18 18 to 64 65 and over Income

$27,962

$46,453

Per capita income

Median household income

Compared to $31,993 in North Carolina and $35,384 in the United States.

Compared to $56,642 in North Carolina and $64,994 in the United States.

Household income 53% 26% 15% 6% Under $50K

$50K - $100K

$100K - $200K

Over $200K


ELK KNOB STATE PARK MASTER PLAN (2020)

2.3

PREVIOUS PLANNING EFFORTS This section provides a summary of a variety of previous plans produced for the area including recreation master plans, trail and greenway plans, and transportation plans. These plans, in part, address outdoor recreation and bike and pedestrian needs and are organized according to

The plan for this 4,303-acre park established in 2003 has a 20-year time horizon and examines the recreation and conservation priorities for future development. Development priorities are based on a set of opportunities and constraints established in accordance with existing site conditions. The process identified conservation opportunities, and resulted in recommendations for park expansion, new amenities, development phases and associated cost estimates. Major amenities being proposed include a visitor center, day-use area, campground, and dynamic back-country recreation experiences. Another important aspect of the plan includes the integration of new trailheads and 33 miles of new trail with the Northern Peaks State Trail along the summits of Elk Knob and The Peak. DRAFT FOR PUBLIC REVIEW

their date of completion, ranging from 2008 to 2020.

GRANDFATHER MOUNTAIN STATE PARK GENERAL MANAGEMENT PLAN (2020) The management plan for Grandfather Mountain State Park provides an analysis of the park’s major resources and facilities. The plan identifies current and future park needs and prioritizes a list of proposed projects intended to meet those needs. Although the park was established in 2009, numerous facilities are in need of upgrades or replacement due to age and excessive wear. The plan includes a facility inventory that identifies and rates the conditions of all structures, campsites, and related infrastructure. Also included is a description and inventory of the many hiking trails found within the park.

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Discovery & Analysis

GRANDFATHER MOUNTAIN STATE PARK

GENERAL MANAGEMENT PLAN

1


TOWN OF BOONE COMPREHENSIVE PLAN UPDATE (2018)

NORTHERN PEAKS TRAIL MASTER PLAN (2017)

This update to the Town’s 2006 land use plan provides policy statements that address planning and growthrelated concerns provided by residents during an extensive public involvement process. Action items included in the plan recommend detailed actions for the Town to pursue for successful implementation of these policies. Policies relevant to outdoor recreation promote an extended greenway system, land acquisition for new parks, and the development of a parks and recreation master plan that identifies additional policies and actions specific to this issue.

The Northern Peaks Trail Master Plan was prepared for the NC Division of Parks and Recreation to help determine MASTER PLAN the feasibility of establishing a 40-mile trail from downtown Boone to Mount Jefferson in Ashe County. The planning process involved extensive land manager engagement and SUMMER 2017 public involvement. This unique plan includes components on trail character, design, and branding, as well as environmental education. An in-depth analysis of preliminary routes includes an inventory of specific opportunities and constraints along four distinct trail segments. The plan discusses the economic impact of the proposed trail, provides a list of possible funding sources, and suggests a 5-year work plan for implementation. NORTHERN PEAKS TRAIL

2006 Comprehensive Plan Update PREPARED BY BOONE AREA PLANNING COMMISSION BOONE DEVELOPMENT SERVICES DEPARTMENT

Originally Adopted March 20, 2006 Revised July 19, 2018

HIGH COUNTRY REGIONAL BIKE PLAN (2014)

TOWN OF BOONE PEDESTRIAN AND BICYCLE PLAN (2014)

The High Country Council of Governments (HCCOG) developed a Bike Plan for their seven-county region, which includes Watauga County and the Town of Boone. The plan is intended to improve safety, access, and mobility for cyclists by designating routes that connect municipalities and other major destinations in the region. The plan identifies needed bicycle improvements to existing roadways and prioritizes improvement recommendations for the region. The Regional Bike Plan complements and builds off of existing municipal bicycle plans to create a connected regional bicycle network.

Prepared as part of the NCDOT Bicycle and Pedestrian Planning Grant Initiative program, this plan places considerable importance on traffic safety and the health benefits of non-motorized transportation. Numerous improvements are suggested for the Town’s sidewalk system. Network connectivity with the Boone Greenway and the Middle Fork Greenway is emphasized.

March 2014

Wal k Bike Boon e 2013

Town of Boone, North Carolina

Pedestrian and bicycle Plan

Adopted April 24, 2014

Town of Boone, North Carolina North Carolina Department of Transportation Division of Bicycle and Pedestrian Transportation

Discovery & Analysis

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MIDDLE FORK GREENWAY MASTER PLAN (2013) Connecting the Towns of Boone and Blowing Rock using a multi-use greenway trail is the primary goal of the Middle Fork Greenway project. This master plan identifies several ancillary goals and objectives. It re-examines previously planned routes and assesses their feasibility. It recommends alternative trail routes wherever practical. Methods are suggested for establishing routes that are fiscally and environmentally feasible. Six subsections representing specific focus areas and project phases are identified through the planning process. Each section is carefully evaluated for alignment opportunities and constraints. Numerous strategies are provided to assist with the selection and development of a logical route.

BOONE AREA OUTDOOR RECREATION PLAN (2011) As an early precursor to the Spring 2011 The Boone Area Imagine Watauga Action Plan, Outdoor Recreation Plan this plan proposed more than twenty tourism-related capital infrastructure improvements for the Boone Area. The plan focused on nine different areas for outdoor recreation infrastructure development, including: 1) Multi-use Greenways, 2) Hiking, 3) Mountain Biking, 4) Paddle Trails, 5) Rock Climbing, 6) Fishing, 7) Road Cycling, and 9) Disc Golf. Architectural renderings were provided to help establish a unified architectural theme for infrastructure projects. The final element of this plan is an implementation matrix that presents all proposed projects along with a prioritization timeline. Rocky Knob Park, paddle trail accesses, and multi-use greenways emerged as immediate priorities for implementation and have since been established as important community assets. Produced by: Watauga County Tourism Development Authority

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WATAUGA COUNTY COMPREHENSIVE TRANSPORTATION PLAN (2013) Watauga County and the Towns of Beech Mountain, Blowing Rock, 2013 Watauga County Boone, and Seven Devils, worked in Comprehensive Transportation Plan coordination with the High Country Council of Governments, and NCDOT’s Transportation Planning Branch, to develop a Comprehensive Transportation Plan (CTP) for Watauga County. A steering committee composed of planning staff and elected officials from the local governments along with representatives from ASU, AppalCART, and other stakeholder groups developed specific recommendations for this multi-modal plan that is based upon the County’s long-range transportation needs. 

WATAUGA COUNTY PARKS AND RECREATION COMPREHENSIVE SYSTEM WIDE PLAN (2010) The overall recreation needs of the County in 2010 are addressed in this comprehensive parks and recreation plan. This planning process included a public survey and an in-depth analysis of existing recreation facilities and programs throughout the County. A major recommendation of this plan is for the expansion and further development of the area’s trail system. The plan also recommends ongoing support of several Watauga County TDA outdoor recreation projects, including the Middle Fork Greenway and Rocky Knob Park.

Discovery & Analysis

WATAUGA COUNTY PARKS & RECREATION COMPREHENSIVE SYSTEMWIDE PLAN

2010-2019 Watauga County Parks & Recreation Department Stephen Poulos, Director 231 Complex Drive Boone, North Carolina 28607 828-264-9511 Prepared with assistance from: High Country Council of Governments Kelly Coffey, Planner Jessica Brannock, Geographic Information Systems Planner 468 New Market Blvd Boone, North Carolina 28607 828-265-5434


THE CITIZENS’ PLAN FOR WATAUGA COUNTY (2009)

Photo by Hugh Morton

The Citizens’ Plan serves as the County’s comprehensive plan and is intended to help COUNTY prepare the county for growth while preserving community character. In addition to a thorough analysis of the County’s demographics, land use patterns, and transportation network, this plan considers economic trends in the area. There is great emphasis placed on sustainability and the protection of natural resources for economic purposes. Tourism and recreation are presented as key components of economic development and the importance of widespread recreational opportunities is discussed. Entrances into the County along major thoroughfares are described as “economic gateways” where attractive and appropriate development should occur.

WATAUGA COUNTY HERITAGE DEVELOPMENT PLAN (2008) The Watauga County Heritage Development Plan was completed in 2008 in conjunction with the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area Partnership. This plan summarized twenty-six tourismrelated priority initiatives with an estimated total cost of $233,149,900. More than half of this total was for major transportation improvements, but additional major projects identified at the time were related to public art, education, cultural museums, and other capital improvements ranging from public restrooms to a regional performing arts center. This plan also includes an extensive asset inventory of the County’s natural, historic and cultural resources.

GRANDFATHER MOUNTAIN STATE PARK

GENERAL MANAGEMENT PLAN

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Discovery & Analysis

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2.4

ASSET INVENTORY This section provides an overview of tourism assets found throughout Watauga County and organizes them into three (3) major asset types including: 1) Outdoor Recreation and Managed Areas; 2) Natural Resources; and 3) Historic and Cultural Resources. Each asset is located on an inventory map, and a description and summary list of specific assets is provided for each major asset type. Exhibits highlight key signature tourism assets within the County.

WATAUGA COUNTY BY THE NUMBERS Total Land Area of Watauga County...........................200,038 Acres Conserved Land...................................... 30,000 Acres (15% of Total) Pisgah National Forest...........................................................400 Acres Elevation Range.................................................. 5946 - 1400 (4546 ft) Watauga River............................................................................ 27 Miles New River.................................................................................... 33 Miles Trout Streams............................... 135 Miles in Watauga River Basin Major Waterfalls..................................................................................... 8 Blue Ridge Parkway.................................................................. 23 Miles Blue Ridge Parkway Access Points..................................................... 4 Planned State Trails.................................................................. 86 Miles Existing Trails........................................................................... 140 Miles

28

Discovery & Analysis


OUTDOOR RECREATION & MANAGED AREAS The County contains a significant number of conserved lands and managed areas, which provide outdoor recreation facilities and opportunities for residents and visitors. Parks, public lands, multiple-use trails, and paddle accesses offer a variety of recreational activities for people of all ages and abilities.

NATURAL RESOURCES Watauga County is fortunate to have abundant natural resources which provide vast potential for the enhancement and development of outdoor recreation opportunities. The topography of the area’s mountains, deep valleys, and unspoiled foothills, in concert with their associated watersheds, forests, and streams, bestow the County with extensive natural assets attractive to outdoor enthusiasts.

HISTORIC & CULTURAL RESOURCES Watauga County is steeped in Southern Appalachian culture and has a deeply rooted history that includes a strong Native American heritage. The past is remembered at a number of area museums and historical sites. The essence of local culture can be experienced in the form of mountain food, music, arts and crafts, and many other diverse community pastimes and traditions.


ASSET INVENTORY KEY

OUTDOOR RECREATION & MANAGED AREAS

30

NATURAL RESOURCES

1

Emerald Outback Trails

18

App Ski Mountain

33

Pisgah National Forest

2

Beech Mountain Ski Resort

19

Payne Branch Park

34

Watauga River

3

Laurel Creek Falls

20

Clawson-Burnley Park

35

New River

4

Watauga River Paddle Trail

21

Boone Greenway

36

Amphibolite Mountain Range

5

Valle Crucis Park

22

Watauga County Recreation Center

37

Blue Ridge Escarpment

6

Cove Creek Park

23

Daniel Boone Park

7

Bear Paw State Natural Area

24

Northern Peaks State Trail

8

Otter Falls

25

Howard Knob Park

9

Grandfather Mountain State Park

26

Boone United Trail

10

Julian Price Memorial Park

27

Ted Mack Soccer Complex

11

Blue Ridge Parkway

28

Brookshire Park

12

Mountains-to-Sea Trail

29

Rocky Knob Mountain Bike Park

13

Moses H. Cone Memorial Park

30

New River Paddle Trail

14

Glen Burney Falls Trail

31

Green Valley Park

15

Middle Fork Greenway

32

Elk Knob State Park

16

Blue Ridge Conservancy Loop

17

Sterling Creek Park

Discovery & Analysis

HISTORIC & CULTURAL RESOURCES 38

Doc Watson Festival

39

Doc Watson Museum

40

Apple Festival

41

Blood Sweat & Gears

42

Valle Crucis Rural Historic District

43

Historic Downtown Boone

44

Appalachian Theater

45

Boonerang Festival

46

Banff Film Festival

47

Horn In The West


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Map 02: ASSET INVENTORY

36

£ ¤ 221

11

16

13 14

15

BLOWING ROCK

37

£ ¤ 321

31


OUTDOOR RECREATION & MANAGED AREAS Conserved lands offer managed areas that provide parks, trails, greenways, and river access points. These outdoor recreation facilities provide direct access to the natural resource assets found throughout the County.

OUTDOOR RECREATION & MANAGED AREAS ASSETS App Ski Mountain

Howard Knob Park

Bear Paw State Natural Area

Julian Price Memorial Park

Beech Mountain Ski Resort

Laurel Creek Falls

Blue Ridge Conservancy Loop

Middle Fork Greenway

Blue Ridge Parkway

Moses H. Cone Memorial Park

Boone Greenway

Mountains-to-Sea Trail

Boone United Trail

New River Paddle Trail

Brookshire Park

Northern Peaks State Trail

Clawson-Burnley Park

Otter Falls

Cove Creek Park

Payne Branch Park

Daniel Boone Park

Rocky Knob Mountain Bike Park

Elk Knob State Park

Sterling Creek Park

Emerald Outback Trails

Ted Mack Soccer Complex

Glen Burney Falls Trail

Valle Crucis Park

Grandfather Mountain State Park

Watauga County Recreation Center

Green Valley Park

32

Crab Orchard Falls, Valle Crucis

Watauga River Paddle Trail

Discovery & Analysis


WATAUGA COUNTY IS HOME TO TWO STATE-DESIGNATED TRAILS The North Carolina Trails System Act (GS 143B-135.90) defines a state trail as a linear corridor on land or water, separated from vehicular traffic, providing public access for non-motorized recreation or transportation. All state trails must be authorized by the NC General Assembly, and as units of the NC State Parks System they are distinguished from other regional and local trails. According to the NC Division of Parks and Recreation (NCDPR), three minimum criteria are used for the initial evaluation of proposed state trails: 1) statewide significant natural, cultural, scenic and recreation value; 2) sufficient potential length and beauty to attract varied and significant use from regions outside the local area; and 3) minimal and surmountable incompatible features, such as roads, intrusive development or large water bodies. While NCDPR is responsible for the planning, coordination, and creation of a state trail, section sponsors build, maintain, and manage their sections of trail. A section sponsor may be a state or federal agency, local government, non-profit organization, or private landowner, and they retain authority on lands they own. The sponsor also determines trail type and use for their state trail section, and it may include natural surface, gravel, and asphalt trails that allow hiking, mountain biking, and equestrian use. There are two state trails located in Watauga County: 1) The Mountains-to-Sea Trail, and 2) The Northern Peaks State Trail.

MOUNTAINS-TO-SEA TRAIL The planned Mountains-to-Sea Trail (MST) stretches approximately 1,400 miles across the state from Clingman’s Dome in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park on the NC/TN border to Jockey’s Ridge State Park on the Outer Banks. The MST was proposed in 1977 and authorized by the NC General Assembly in 2000. Approximately 660 miles of the trail are constructed and designated with 300 continuous miles located in Western North Carolina. The Watauga County section of the MST extends approximately 35 miles on public land managed by the National Park Service along the Blue Ridge Parkway.

NORTHERN PEAKS STATE TRAIL The Northern Peaks State Trail was authorized in 2019. Once constructed, the trail will provide connectivity of several dramatic mountain peaks from Boone to Mount Jefferson State Natural Area while passing through parts of southeast Ashe and northwest Watauga Counties. Blue Ridge Conservancy serves as the nonprofit implementation partner for the Northern Peaks State Trail.

33


NATURAL RESOURCES Watauga County is home to an abundant number of natural resources. Through sustainable planning, infrastructure development, and public access management, these resources provide an opportunity to expand opportunities for both locals and visitors. The natural resources located in Watauga County offer opportunities for infrastructure enhancement and development to provide and improve access to residents and tourists.

Upper Gorge Access on the Watauga River

34

Discovery & Analysis

NATURAL RESOURCES ASSETS Amphibolite Mountain Range Blue Ridge Escarpment New River Pisgah National Forest Watauga River


Green Valley Access on the New River


HISTORIC & CULTURAL RESOURCES Watauga County’s rich history includes a strong Native American heritage, early exploration by European settlers, and stories of the American Revolution. The past is honored, and culture is showcased at area museums, historical sites, and public event spaces within and near the county’s main street communities.

HISTORIC & CULTURAL ASSETS Appalachian Theater

Doc Watson Festival

Apple Festival

Doc Watson Museum

Banff Film Festival

Historic Downtown Boone

Blood Sweat & Gears

Horn In The West

Boonerang Festival

Valle Crucis Rural Historic District

With a rich history and strong arts community, a significant opportunity exists for Watauga County and the Town of Boone to grow its public art and performing arts programming.

36

Discovery & Analysis


Boonerang Music Festival. Photo Credit: Eric Rayburn



3

Public Engagement & Emerging Themes 3.1 Tools of Engagement 3.2 Community Partners and Engagement 3.3 Community Survey 3.4 Emerging Themes

This chapter discusses tools used for public engagement, primary stakeholders and organizations involved in the planning process, and key results from an online survey designed to obtain ideas from the community regarding outdoor recreation, tourism, and future development priorities for Boone and Watauga County. The chapter culminates with key emerging themes that will guide plan recommendations.


3.1

TOOLS OF ENGAGEMENT The Imagine Watauga project was launched and introduced to the public using a three-minute promotional video narrated by key community leaders. This video highlights the planning process and goals and encourages citizens to visit the project website and take an online community survey. A project Fact Sheet was created to highlight key project information.

40

Public Engagement & Emerging Themes



GOVERNMENT/INSTITUTIONS ENGAGED

3.2

Watauga County TDA

COMMUNITY PARTNERS & ENGAGEMENT

Boone TDA US National Park Service

Watauga Economic Development Commission

NC Division of Parks and Recreation

Watauga County

Appalachian State University Downtown Boone Association

The Imagine Watauga Action Plan planning process engaged a variety of stakeholder groups

Boone Area Chamber of Commerce

Town of Boone High Country Council of Governments

AppHealthCare

including non-profit, government and quasigovernmental agencies. The consultant team conducted interviews, focus group meetings, and walking tours with stakeholder groups identified at the kick-off meeting and established a coalition of community and local government leaders from

NON-PROFIT AND PUBLIC PARTNERS

across the County for the purpose of developing

Blue Ridge Conservancy

River Girl Fishing Company

a unified vision. Key implications and takeaways from these meetings are incorporated into plan

Valle Crucis Conference Center

Mast General Store

recommendations.

Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture

Mast Farm Inn

Western Youth Network

Cove Creek Preservation and Development

Mountain True / Watauga Riverkeeper

Green Valley Community Park, Inc.

Children’s Playhouse

Valle Crucis Park, Inc.

Watauga Arts Council

Mountaineer/ Cove Creek Ruritan

Blowing Rock Art & History Museum

Deep Gap Ruritan

Southern Appalachian Historical Association Appalachian Theater

42

Public Engagement & Emerging Themes

Todd Community Preservation Org. Foscoe-Grandfather Community Center, Inc


STAKEHOLDER ENGAGEMENT MEETINGS Stakeholder meetings were conducted throughout the planning process to set goals, gather input, and propose recommendations for future investments in tourism-related capital infrastructure development in Watauga County.

GEOGRAPHIC FOCUS GROUP MEETINGS: Valle Crucis -- Valle Crucis Conference Center, July 19, 2022 Cove Creek -- Mountaineer Ruritan Club, September 26, 2022

THEMATIC FOCUS GROUP MEETINGS:

Green Valley/ Todd -- Green Valley Park, July 18, 2022

Recreation -- Watauga County Recreation Center, May 17, 2022

Downtown Boone Focus Group & Walking Tour, September 21, 2022

Environment -- Watauga County Recreation Center, August 24, 2022

Town of Boone Administration & Public Works, October 6, 2022

Arts and Culture -- Watauga Arts Council, May 18, 2022

Foscoe -- Foscoe-Grandfather Community Center, October 17, 2022

Economic Development -- Watauga County Recreation Center, May 17, 2022

Deep Gap -- Deep Gap Volunteer Fire Department, October 13, 2022

Active Living -- Watauga County Recreation Center, August 24, 2022

Valle Crucis -- Valle Crucis Conference Center, January 19, 2023

Public Engagement & Emerging Themes

43


Green Valley Park, Inc.

Deep Gap Ruritan

Economic Development Focus Group

Valle Crucis Focus Group

44

Public Engagement & Emerging Themes


Foscoe-Grandfather Community Center, Inc.

Environment and Sustainability Focus Group

Public Health Focus Group

Horn in the West Focus Group

Public Engagement & Emerging Themes

45


3.3

COMMUNITY SURVEY The Imagine Watauga Action Plan – Community Survey was conducted to gather input on which tourism assets residents feel are most important and how future projects should be prioritized. The survey received a total of 579 responses between July 1 and October 31, 2022. The online survey was promoted by the TDAs, Town

Total Responses

579

18-29

>64

Age

and County officials, and local stakeholders via the project website, email and social media platforms.

<18

30-39 40-49

50-64


Outdoor Recreation

DOWNTOWN SPECIAL EVENTS

6% Adjoining Counties

ZIP

PICNICKING FESTIVALS

CHALLENGES TO ACCESSING EXISTING OUTDOOR RECREATION ASSETS OVERCROWDING LACK OF PARKING LACK OF SIDEWALKS OR BIKE LANES LACK OF PUBLIC ACCESS

88% Watauga County

COST / TOO EXPENSIVE INADEQUATE PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION LACK OF ONGOING MAINTENANCE SAFETY ADA

35% Male

Not Imp 11

RUNNING

LIGHTING

COMMUNITY CHARACTER / UNIQUE IDENTITY

STREET TREES & LANDSCAPE

HISTORIC PRESERVATION

AMENITIES (BENCHES, TRASH CANS, BIKE RACKS)

PUBLIC ART

PUBLIC EVENT SPACE / GREEN SPACE

PICNIC AREAS

PARKING

PUBLIC RESTROOMS

LACK OF INFO / SIGNAGE

Gender 5% Prefer not to Answer

BLUE RIDGE PARKWAY

BOONE GREENWAY

NEW RIVER

GRANDFATHER MOUNTAIN STATE PARK

MOSES CONE

WATAUGA RECREATION CENTER

WATAUGA RIVER

PRICE PARK

VALLE CRUCIS PARK MIDDLE FORK GREENWAY

VERY IMPORTANT

IMPORTANT

SOMEWHAT IMPORTANT

NOT IMPORTANT

FAIR/POOR

HIGH

60% Female

6

SNOW SKIING/ SNOWBOARDING

MOUNTAIN BIKING

GOOD/EXCELLENT

18

SIGHTSEEING

PUBLIC CONCERTS

91%

believe outdoor recreation & tourism is important or very important

38

6% Other

SWIMMING

WALKING

ACTIVITY CATEGORIES RANKED BY IMPORTANCE

tant por m I

CAMPING

IMPORTANCE OF MOST VISITED ASSETS FOR COMMUNITY MEMBERS

4

th

PERCEIVED QUALITY OF SELECT DOWNTOWN ELEMENTS

3

rd

HISTORICAL ATTRACTIONS

Somew ha t

2

nd

HIKING

Very Im

t tan or

Imp o

1

st

FISHING

CANOEING/ KAYAKING

Heritage & History

WILDLIFE WATCHING/ BIRDING

t an rt

Arts & Culture

nt rta po 8 31

Downtown Main Streets

Development & Improvement Priorities of outdoor Facilities

MEDIUM

LOW

TRAILS/ GREENWAYS

HIKING

DOWNTOWN PUBLIC SPACES

OUTDOOR EVENTS VENUE

PLAYGROUNDS

SWIMMING AREAS

PICNIC AREAS

CANOE/ KAYAK

CAMPGROUNDS

BEGINNER MOUNTAIN BIKE TRAILS

FISHING AREAS

MOUNTAIN BIKE TRAILS

ROCK CLIMBING ACCESS

SKATEBOARD PARKS

DISC GOLF COURSES

EQUESTRIAN TRAILS


3.4

EMERGING THEMES The Emerging Themes provide the framework and rationale for the recommendations made in Chapter 4. These themes will help guide local leaders and decision-makers over the next several years as the Boone and Watauga County TDAs implement the Imagine Watauga Action Plan. The Boone and Watauga County TDAs will work in partnership with Watauga County and the Town of Boone to steward their tourism dollars effectively and make strategic investments focused on the connections between tourism, outdoor recreation, natural resources, heritage, and local culture to enhance quality of life and spur economic growth.

CONNECTIVITY Improve connectivity within communities and access to recreation opportunities by installing functional and attractive outdoor recreation infrastructure and public event spaces that improve the quality of life for residents and attract visitors.

EDUCATION & AWARENESS Increase public awareness and opportunities, both county-wide and within the Town of Boone, to visit and experience the area’s extensive natural resources, outdoor recreation assets, culturally significant, and historic sites. Promote destinations that are ideal for hands-on and active learning experiences in a variety of topics related to history, anthropology, and the environmental sciences.


OUTDOOR RECREATION Conserve and maintain natural resources, rural landscapes, and water quality through wellconceived trail corridors, public river accesses, and conservation lands that support sustainable outdoor recreation activities.

ARTS & CULTURE

RURAL VILLAGES

Bolster the creative economy by supporting and encouraging the expansion of visual, public, and performing arts assets. Create conditions favorable to the spaces and events needed for the expansion of this important sector.

Pursue opportunities for community revitalization of the rural villages based on site-specific master plans that capitalize on these unique sites and settings and introduce new activities where appropriate.

SPREAD DEMAND Promote a wide range of tourism assets that are geographically dispersed and spreads demand throughout the County to decrease traffic congestion, overcrowding, and overuse of existing resources.


Members of Green Valley Park Inc. discuss plan changes.


4

Plan Recommendations 1. Federal and State Parks & Trails 2. Regional and Local Parks & Trails 3. Rural Villages 4. Town of Boone

This chapter serves as the heart of the Imagine Watauga Action Plan and is organized according to four (4) primary Action Plan Focus Areas as identified through the planning process: 1) Federal and State Parks and Trails, 2) Regional and Local Parks and Trails, 3) Rural Villages, 4) Town of Boone. Each focus area includes specific projects and action steps.


1.

FEDERAL AND STATE PARKS & TRAILS Watauga County is home to one Federal Park unit (Blue Ridge Parkway National Park), two state trails (Mountains-to-Sea Trail and Northern Peaks State Trail), and three NC State Park units (Grandfather, Elk Knob, and Bear Paw). These parks and trails, and the experiences they provide, are critical to the future of Watauga County tourism. The WCTDA and its partners must continue to engage and partner with state and federal land managers to ensure a high-quality and safe user experience that adhere to sustainable design, access, and maintenance principles. Each of these park units are at various levels of development. The purpose of this section is to outline proposed action items for each unit that align with WCTDA interests, while supporting the following two (2) major overarching goals:

1. Support land managers and non-profit partner organizations working to plan, develop, and maintain parks, trails and facilities; and

2. Increase informational and educational signage about area outdoor recreation opportunities and the unique geography, geology, and natural history of the area and region.

52

Plan Recommendations


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53


1.1 BLUE RIDGE PARKWAY The Blue Ridge Parkway stretches 469 miles from Shenandoah National Park in Virginia to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park on the North Carolina/Tennessee border. Approximately 23 miles of the Parkway passes through Watauga County, and its corridor supports approximately 58 miles of hiking trail. The WCTDA recognizes this federal park unit as a significant tourism asset for the county and region.

SPECIFIC WCTDA ACTION ITEMS IN SUPPORT OF THE BLUE RIDGE PARKWAY INCLUDE THE FOLLOWING: 1.1.1 TRAIL INVESTMENT Provide funding to the parkway’s non-profit partners and continue existing partnerships with Youth Conservation Corp crews and the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation’s trail project manager to prioritize repairs and improvements, organize community and volunteer involvement, and implement new trail projects.

1.1.2 SIGNAGE AND INFORMATION Work with Parkway officials to improve signage at trailheads and park areas to provide visitors quality information.

The Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation provides support for projects along the parkway, including historical and cultural preservation, environmental protection, visitor amenities, and education and outreach. The Foundation collaborates with the NPS, conducts fundraising efforts, and works with community partners to complete initiatives along the 469 mile route.

54

Plan Recommendations


1.2 MOUNTAINS-TO-SEA TRAIL The Mountains-to-Sea State Trail (MST) connects Clingmans Dome in Great Smoky Mountains National Park to Jockey’s Ridge State Park on the Outer Banks. The trail parallels the Blue Ridge Parkway along the southern boundary of Watauga County. The MST connects Watauga County to a growing regional trail system located in Western North Carolina.

SPECIFIC WCTDA ACTION ITEMS IN SUPPORT OF THE MOUNTAINS-TO-SEA TRAIL INCLUDE THE FOLLOWING: 1.2.1 MOUNTAINS-TO-SEA STATE TRAIL (MST) RELOCATION Support efforts by the Friends of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail (FMST) to conduct an environmental assessment of the Parkway corridor to identify potential opportunities to relocate the trail off the Blue Ridge Parkway road shoulder.

1.2.2 FMST VOLUNTEER TRAIL CREWS The Friends of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail (FMST) brings together communities and volunteers to build, maintain, promote, and

Support FMST task force leaders and volunteers in their efforts to maintain and improve the trail experience.

advocate for the trail. Task force leaders focused in geographic areas lead a large volunteer base which constructs, maintains, and improves trail segments across the state.

Plan Recommendations

55


1.3 NORTHERN PEAKS STATE TRAIL The 40 mile long Northern Peaks State Trail (NPST) planning corridor connects Boone, Elk Knob State Park, West Jefferson, and Mount Jefferson State Natural Area within Watauga and Ashe Counties. The project was proposed in the Boone Area Outdoor Recreation Plan, and presents a unique recreational

SPECIFIC WCTDA ACTION ITEMS IN SUPPORT OF THE NORTHERN PEAKS STATE TRAIL INCLUDE THE FOLLOWING: 1.3.1 NORTHERN PEAKS STATE TRAIL IMPLEMENTATION Partner with Blue Ridge Conservancy and its NPST

and quality of life opportunity to the region. The WCTDA must

Coordinator to construct and fund the NPST within Watauga

continue to support this project to connect existing public

County. (See Appendix 01: Northern Peaks State Trail

lands and provide access for residents and tourists while

Plan 2022-2027, page 128.) The NPST should be built to a

minimizing impact to conserved lands that protect a diverse

sustainable trail standard

collection of unique flora and fauna.

1.3.2 NORTHERN PEAKS STATE TRAIL NODE DEVELOPMENT AT HOWARD KNOB PARK Assist with funding of planned park improvements at Howard Knob Park to create a destination-trailhead for the NPST.

Exh 02: BLUE RIDGE CONSERVANCY LEADS THE NPST PLANNING EFFORTS

Blue Ridge Conservancy’s Northern Peaks State Trail Coordinator, Jordan Sellers, presents to the Watauga County Commissioners. Blue Ridge Conservancy serves as the nonprofit partner for the Northern Peaks State Trail. In 2022, the NC Legislature created the $29.25-million Complete the Trail Fund (CTF) to construct state trails and expand capacity for nonprofit trail partners. Photo Credit: Watauga Democrat

56

Plan Recommendations


Map 04: NORTHERN PEAKS STATE TRAIL 57


1.4 ELK KNOB STATE PARK popular destination and public conservation area within the

1.4.2 ELK KNOB STATE PARK MASTER PLAN IMPLEMENTATION

Northern Peaks State Trail planning corridor. The park was

Partner with NC State Parks to improve and expand

established in 2003 to protect Elk Knob and the headwaters

recreation opportunities in accordance with the Elk Knob

of the North Fork of the New River. The park offers a summit

State Park Master Plan.

Elk Knob State Park, located north of Boone, represents a

overlook, backcountry campsites, and 5.5 miles of trail.

SPECIFIC WCTDA ACTION ITEMS IN SUPPORT OF ELK KNOB STATE PARK INCLUDE THE FOLLOWING: 1.4.1 NORTHERN PEAKS STATE TRAIL DEVELOPMENT Support efforts for existing trail improvements and new trail and facility development within the planned NPST planning corridor at Elk Knob State Park.

1.5 GRANDFATHER MOUNTAIN STATE PARK Grandfather Mountain State Park serves as an important tourism asset for the county, region, and state. The Park is located in Avery, Caldwell, and Watauga counties adjacent to the Grandfather Mountain attraction and Blue Ridge Parkway.

SPECIFIC WCTDA ACTION ITEMS IN SUPPORT OF GRANDFATHER MOUNTAIN STATE PARK INCLUDE THE FOLLOWING:

The State Park encompasses approximately 2,456 acres of land

1.5.1 GRANDFATHER MOUNTAIN STATE PARK GENERAL MANAGEMENT PLAN

and 13 miles of trails including the statewide Mountains-to-Sea

Partner with NC Parks to improve and expand recreation

State Trail.

opportunities in accordance with the Grandfather Mountain State Park General Management Plan (GMP).

58

Plan Recommendations


1.6 BEAR PAW STATE NATURAL AREA Bear Paw State Natural Area (SNA) includes 384 protected acres along the Avery and Watauga County boundary. The Watauga County communities of Valle Crucis, Seven Devils, and Foscoe

SPECIFIC WCTDA ACTION ITEMS IN SUPPORT OF BEAR PAW STATE NATURAL AREA INCLUDE THE FOLLOWING:

border the area which contains the headwaters of Dutch Creek

1.6.1 GRANDFATHER MOUNTAIN STATE PARK GENERAL MANAGEMENT PLAN

and tributaries for the Elk and Watauga Rivers. Bear Paw SNA

Partner with NC State Parks to improve and expand recreation

became a unit of the NC State Parks system in 2008, and it is

opportunities in accordance with the Grandfather Mountain

managed by Grandfather Mountain State Park.

State Park General Management Plan (GMP).

MAP 05: GRANDFATHER MOUNTAIN STATE PARK GMP TRAIL PROJECT OVERVIEW

GRANDFATHER MOUNTAIN STATE PARK GENERAL MANAGEMENT PLAN

Plan Recommendations

59


2.

REGIONAL AND LOCAL PARKS & TRAILS Watauga County is fortunate to have a host of natural resources, numerous destination-quality local parks and greenways, and multiple active non-profit organizations engaged in asset development. The WCTDA must continue to support the planning, development, and maintenance of locally managed resources for the benefit of locals and visitors. This section highlights recommendations for six (6) key focus areas, including:

1. Middle Fork Greenway 2. South Fork Greenway 3. Rocky Knob Mountain Bike Park 4. Howard Knob Park 5. Watauga River Paddle Trail 6. New River Paddle Trail

60

Plan Recommendations


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421

Map 06: REGIONAL AND LOCAL FOCUS AREAS

GRANDFATHER MOUNTAIN STATE PARK

£ ¤

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221

£ ¤ 321

61


2.1 MIDDLE FORK GREENWAY The Middle Fork Greenway has emerged in recent years as the preeminent quality of life and tourism development project for Watauga County. Because of the commitment and leadership of Blue Ridge Conservancy and their vast network of partners and donors, the vision of connecting Boone and Blowing Rock is further realized each year. The WCTDA has been a major financial supporter of the Middle Fork Greenway, and this plan highlights the need and priority for continued assistance. Furthermore, local, state, and federal elected officials must work in tandem to support Blue Ridge Conservancy efforts to secure significant grant funding from state and federal institutions. As sections of the Middle Fork Greenway are constructed and completed, the parks and trails are under permanent conservation. This land and amenities are transferred to Watauga County for long-term ownership and maintenance.

SPECIFIC WCTDA ACTION ITEMS IN SUPPORT OF THE MIDDLE FORK GREENWAY INCLUDE THE FOLLOWING: 2.1.1 ONGOING FINANCIAL SUPPORT

NCDNCR as key partners in the

The WCTDA shall provide consistent

implementation of the MFG to install

financial support to Blue Ridge

public art along the Middle Fork

Conservancy for the purpose of

Greenway.

securing land, completing engineering studies, restoring the Middle Fork

2.1.3 INTERPRETIVE SIGNAGE

New River and its tributaries, and

Support efforts to install

constructing the greenway and

environmental and historical

associated pocket parks, trailheads,

interpretive signage along the Middle

and support facilities.

Fork Greenway to further educate

2.1.2 PUBLIC ART

locals and visitors on our unique region, geography, and ancillary

Partner with Blue Ridge Conservancy,

benefits of building greenway

Watauga County Arts Council,

infrastructure (ie. stream and habitat

NCDOT, Watauga County, the towns

restoration).

of Blowing Rock and Boone, and

62

Plan Recommendations


awarded $500,000 to Watauga County towards the efforts of BRC to develop Boone Gorge Park, which features a one-mile section of the

Exh 03: MIDDLE FORK GREENWAY & BOONE GORGE PARK

In 2022, the North Carolina Parks and Recreation Trust Fund (PARTF)

Middle Fork Greenway (MFG). WCTDA, NC General Assembly, numerous other public grants, and community contributions have committed significant funds towards the creation of this park and greenway extension.. Photo Credit: Blue Ridge Conservancy Website, 2022

63


Because of the commitment and leadership of Blue Ridge Conservancy and their vast network of partners and donors, the vision of connecting Boone and Blowing Rock is further realized each year.


Exh 04: MFG NEW BRIDGE

Middle Fork Greenway Trailhead on Highway 321.

65


2.2 SOUTH FORK GREENWAY BROOKSHIRE PARK The WCTDA and Watauga County partnered in 2015 to extend the greenway north of Brookshire Park (behind Ted Mack Soccer Complex) along the South Fork New River. The WCTDA supports the continued extension of the greenway north provided private landowners adjacent to the county’s property are amenable. In addition, a variety of trail connectivity routes should be explored that would link Brookshire Park and Rocky Knob Park (see Town of Boone Focus Area for more information).

SPECIFIC WCTDA ACTION ITEMS IN SUPPORT OF THE SOUTH FORK GREENWAY INCLUDE THE FOLLOWING: 2.2.1 EXTEND SOUTH FORK GREENWAY Support efforts to extend the South Fork Greenway north of Ted Mackorell Soccer Complex. Work with local land trusts (New River Conservancy and Blue Ridge Conservancy) to conduct landowner outreach.

2.2.2 PUBLIC ART Support efforts to incorporate public art at Brookshire Park, the Ted Mackorell Soccer Complex, and along the South Fork Greenway.

2.2.3 INTERPRETIVE SIGNAGE Support efforts to install environmental and historical interpretive signage at Brookshire Park and along the South Fork Greenway to educate locals and visitors on our unique region, geography, and ancillary benefits of building greenway infrastructure (ie. stream and habitat restoration). Brookshire Park

66

Plan Recommendations


2.3 ROCKY KNOB MOUNTAIN BIKE PARK For more than a decade Rocky Knob Mountain Bike Park

2.3.3 ROCKY KNOB PLAYGROUND

has served locals and visitors. Boone Area Cyclists (BAC)

Explore the construction of a high-quality, pour-in-

and its volunteers have been a critical partner in the

place ADA accessible playground. The park’s original

quality development of this purpose-built mountain bike

adventure playground was decommissioned after

trail system. The park has been an exemplar for how

10-years of use due to the wear of natural materials.

WCTDA funding can produce a compelling tourism asset

Watauga County replaced the playground with basic

that not only drives visitation, but also creates ongoing

playground equipment.

media attention.

2.3.4 PUBLIC ART

BAC has continued to maintain existing trails, develop new

Partner with Boone Area Cyclists and the Watauga Arts

trails and features, and ensure risk management signage

Council to incorporate public art at Rocky Knob Park.

meets industry standards. The WCTDA recently updated the Rocky Knob Park brand, installed a new gateway entry sign, and constructed a paved pump track installed by industry leader Velo Solutions.

SPECIFIC WCTDA ACTION ITEMS IN SUPPORT OF THE ROCKY KNOB MOUNTAIN BIKE PARK INCLUDE THE FOLLOWING: 2.3.1 TRAIL MAINTENANCE AND EXPANSION The WCTDA shall continue to support efforts of Boone Area Cyclists (BAC) to redevelop, expand, and further improve the bike park’s trail system. An annual financial contribution from the WCTDA to BAC will ensure the maintenance of trails and risk management signage, and the design and construction of new trail opportunities.

2.3.2 FINALIZE PUMP TRACK DEVELOPMENT Finalize the Velo pump track by installing new support facilities, including additional parking, a covered shelter, and community plaza.

Plan Recommendations

67


2.4 HOWARD KNOB PARK Howard Knob Park is an iconic regional asset that provides

2.4.3 PUBLIC ART

outstanding views of downtown Boone. The 5.7 acre park,

Partner with the Watauga Arts Council to incorporate

owned and managed by Watauga County, was developed

public art at Howard Knob Park.

in the mid-80s, and many of the facilities have fallen into disrepair. The Boone Area Outdoor Recreation Plan (2011)

2.4.4 EDUCATIONAL INTERPRETIVE SIGNAGE

and the Northern Peaks Trail Master Plan (2017), plans

Support efforts to develop and install interpretive

which were spearheaded by the WCTDA, identify Howard

signage to educate residents and visitors on the unique

Knob Park as a priority for redevelopment.

geography, geology, and history of the park and Boone’s nearest amphibolite peak.

SPECIFIC WCTDA ACTION ITEMS IN SUPPORT OF

HOWARD KNOB PARK INCLUDE THE FOLLOWING: 2.4.1 HOWARD KNOB PARK MASTER PLAN IMPLEMENTATION Partner with Watauga County to implement the Howard Knob Park Master Plan including a new viewing platform, parking area expansion, support facility improvements, and additional recreation amenities.

UPDATED SIGN WOODLAND WALK

2.4.2 NORTHERN PEAKS STATE TRAIL CONNECTOR SIGNAGE

“THE GROVE”

Develop informational and interpretive signs that provide visitors with information about the NPST

TRANQUILITY GARDEN

corridor and its unique biodiversity. Partner with BRC to

WOODLAND WALK

KIOSK ADA ACCESSIBLE PATH

connect Howard Knob Park to NPST towards Elk Knob

ADA ACCESSIBLE PATH

State Park and the Town of Boone.”

COUNCIL RING

RELOCATE UTILITIES

RESTROOM

UPDATED PICNIC SHELTER

NEW OVERLOOK AREA

PICNIC AREA

“THE BOWL”

KIOSK

ADA OVERLOOK

NEW OVERLOOK AREA

UPDATED STAIRS

RAILING WHERE NEEDED

NEW DECK AT EXISTING OVERLOOK AREA

NEW OVERLOOK AREA SELECTIVE THINNING FOR VIEWS

BOULDERING AREA

STEEP CLIFF

BOULDERING AREA

“THE CHIMNEY”

PICNIC AREA

BOULDERING AREA

5.699 ACRES RAILING WHERE NEEDED

68

Plan Recommendations

OVERLOOK DECK WITH 200 DEGREE VIEW


A new viewing platform with ADA access is planned at the park’s primary overlook to allow visitors of all abilities to enjoy the park. At the writing of this plan, engineering and permitting remains ongoing with expected construction of expanded parking and the viewing platform to take place in 2024. Watauga County and the WCTDA received a $350,000 grant from the NC Parks and Recreation Trust Fund to assist with project implementation. Rendering by: Stitch Design

Exh 05: CREATING AN ACCESSIBLE BOONE VIEW FOR EVERYONE

Existing

69


2.5 WATAUGA RIVER PADDLE TRAIL The Watauga River Paddle Trail extends approximately 10 miles from

2.5.3 WATAUGA GORGE ACCESS

Valle Crucis north to Guy Ford Road. The paddle trail features four

Partner with Watauga County to ensure adequate ongoing

access locations, including: 1) Valle Crucis; 2) Watauga River Road; 3)

maintenance of the existing Watauga Gorge Access.

Watauga Gorge; and 4) Guy Ford Access.

2.5.4 GUY FORD ACCESS

The Valle Crucis Access does not exist, but land has been secured by

Partner with Watauga County to ensure adequate ongoing

Blue Ridge Conservancy, which is managing the design, permitting,

maintenance of the existing Guy Ford Access.

and construction of this facility. An access along Watauga River Road has not been specifically identified, but is needed between

2.5.5 PUBLIC ART

Valle Crucis and Watauga Gorge Access. Watauga Gorge Access

Partner with the Watauga Arts Council to incorporate public art at

was developed by the WCTDA in 2012 and continues to receive

appropriate river accesses along the Watauga River Paddle Trail.

considerable use by fisherman, boaters, and swimmers. The Guy Ford Access was developed by Blue Ridge Conservancy, Watauga County, and the WCTDA in 2020, formalizing a traditional high-use river access point.

2.5.6 INTERPRETIVE SIGNAGE Support efforts to install interpretive environmental and historical signage along the Watauga River Paddle Trail to educate visitors and locals about the river, environmental issues, local history, and

SPECIFIC WCTDA ACTION ITEMS IN SUPPORT OF THE WATAUGA

regional geography.

RIVER PADDLE TRAIL INCLUDE THE FOLLOWING: 2.5.1 VALLE CRUCIS ACCESS

Partner and financially support Blue Ridge Conservancy efforts to design, permit, construct, and maintain the Valle Crucis River Access.

2.5.2 WATAUGA RIVER ROAD ACCESS Partner with Blue Ridge Conservancy and other community stakeholders to purchase property and develop a river access along Watauga River Road between the Valle Crucis Access and Watauga Gorge Park. The newest river access in Watauga County is located on the Watauga River on Guy Ford Road.

70

Plan Recommendations


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71


2.6 NEW RIVER PADDLE TRAIL The New River Paddle Trail extends approximately 22 miles from the Boone

2.6.3 PINE RUN ACCESS

Access located in Boone on New River Hills Road north to the Todd Access.

Partner with Watauga County to ensure adequate ongoing maintenance

The paddle trail features seven (7) access locations, including: 1) Boone; 2)

of the existing Pine Run Access.

Roby Greene; 3) Pine Run; 4) Milton Moretz; 5) Castle Ford; 6) Green Valley; and 7) Todd.

2.6.4 MILTON MORETZ ACCESS Support efforts to purchase property and develop a river access along

The Boone Access exists, but there is currently no signage or information.

Milton Moretz Road.

This access is within the Boone town limits, and thus, the WCTDA will need

2.6.5 CASTLE FORD ACCESS

to work with the Boone TDA and Town of Boone for any infrastructure development. The Roby Greene bridge access is informally used by boaters and fisherman. Previous efforts to develop a formal public access were denied when NCDOT approached adjacent landowners in 2011 when the bridge was replaced. The WCTDA and its partners should re-engage nearby landowners. The Pine Run has been a successful WCTDA project for more than ten years, but some stormwater issues have been reported and quality ongoing maintenance is the primary goal moving forward. Formal accesses need to be developed for both Milton Moretz and Castle Ford. Green Valley Park was engaged throughout the Imagine Watauga planning process, and is prepared to partner with the WCTDA to further develop their river access area. Blue Ridge Conservancy has secured the property that has been traditionally used as the Todd Access; this is an exciting new acquisition for the future of the New River Paddle Trail.

Purchase property and develop a river access along Castle Ford Road between the proposed Milton Moretz Access and Green Valley Park.

2.6.6 GREEN VALLEY ACCESS Partner with Green Valley Park to ensure adequate ongoing maintenance of the existing Green Valley Access. In accordance with the site master plan (Exhibit XX: Green Valley Park Master Plan, page XX) approved by the WCTDA and Green Valley Park Board of Directors, design, engineer, and construct the improved road access, additional parking, restrooms, shelters, and signage kiosk.

2.6.7 TODD ACCESS Partner and financially support Blue Ridge Conservancy efforts to design, permit, construct, and maintain the Todd

SPECIFIC WCTDA ACTION ITEMS IN SUPPORT OF THE NEW RIVER PADDLE TRAIL INCLUDE THE FOLLOWING:

River Access.

2.6.8 PUBLIC ART Partner with the Watauga Arts Council to incorporate public art at

2.6.1 BOONE ACCESS Partner with the Town of Boone and Boone TDA to install an information kiosk (featuring a paddle trail map and safety information) in accordance with established WCTDA facility design standards for the New River Paddle Trail.

appropriate river accesses along the New River Paddle Trail.

2.6.9 INTERPRETIVE SIGNAGE Support efforts to install interpretive environmental and historical signage along the New River Paddle Trail to educate visitors and locals about the river, environmental issues, local history, and regional

2.6.2 ROBY GREENE ACCESS Pursue a land acquisition and access development adjacent to Roby

geography.

Greene Road bridge.

72

Plan Recommendations


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7373


3.

RURAL VILLAGES Various community stakeholders engaged throughout the Imagine Watauga planning process highlighted the need to create new tourism opportunities throughout the county as a means of “spreading visitor demand.” In addition, tourism development was identified as an important means for growing small business within our rural cultural and commercial centers, or “villages,” located throughout the county. Accordingly, five (5) specific communities were engaged in the planning process to help identify potential land use, commercial, recreational, and cultural development opportunities, including:

1. Valle Crucis 2. Cove Creek 3. Foscoe 4. Deep Gap 5. Green Valley/Todd Specific WCTDA action items are outlined below for each community.

74

Plan Recommendations


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75


3.1 VALLE CRUCIS Valle Crucis is recognized by the state as a rural historic district

System). The highest priority is to redesign and construct

and has been a major High Country destination for decades.

a new trail accessing Crab Orchard Falls. Provide for

While its scenic beauty alone is destination worthy, Valle Crucis

appropriate signage and a dedicated parking area. Partner

is home to significant assets, including the Watauga River,

with Blue Ridge Conservancy to incorporate their adjacent

original Mast General Store, Annex Mast General Store, Valle

property into the new trail system.

Crucis Park, Valle Crucis Conference Center, Mast Farm Inn, and other historic properties.

3.1.3 OLD ELEMENTARY SCHOOL AND VALLE LANDING COUNTY PROPERTY

Throughout the Imagine Watauga planning process the

Partner with Watauga County and Valle Crucis Park to

consultant team engaged a local group of community

repurpose the old Valle Crucis Elementary School (during

stakeholders (see listing in Acknowledgments section), which

the time of this plan writing, the new school was under

identified numerous opportunities for improving quality of life

construction). Explore opportunities for expanding

and asset development while preserving the rural landscape

greenspace, developing an artisans market, and providing for

and protecting the history and heritage of the community.

connectivity among the Mast General Stores and Valle Crucis

On-going and expanded community engagement is critical for

Park (see Exhibit 06: Old Valle Crucis School Redevelopment

project success within the community.

Concept Plan, page 80). Further engage the Valle Crucis community to refine all concept plans.

SPECIFIC WCTDA ACTION ITEMS IN SUPPORT OF VALLE CRUCIS INCLUDE THE FOLLOWING: 3.1.1 TRAIL CONNECTIVITY

3.1.4 VALLE CRUCIS PARK Partner with Valle Crucis Park to identify and implement key projects that will assist in visitor management and provide

Work alongside Blue Ridge Conservancy and local partners

new opportunities for park users.

to provide for trail connectivity among key destinations, including: Valle Crucis Conference Center; Mast General

3.1.5 PUBLIC ART

Stores; Valle Crucis Park; Valle Crucis Access on the Watauga

Partner with community partners and the Watauga Arts

River; old Valle Crucis School; new Valle Crucis School; Mast

Council to incorporate public art at appropriate areas

Farm Inn; and Mission Ridge. See Map 10: Valle Crucis Trail

throughout Valle Crucis.

Connectivity, page right.

3.1.6 INTERPRETIVE SIGNAGE

3.1.2 VALLE CRUCIS CONFERENCE CENTER (VCCC) TRAIL SYSTEM REDEVELOPMENT

Support efforts to install environmental or historical

Partner with the VCCC to design and construct a new hiking

visitors and locals about history and regional geography.

interpretive signage throughout Valle Crucis to educate

trail system throughout their 450 acre property (see page XX, Map XX: Proposed Valle Crucis Conference Center Trail

76

Plan Recommendations


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77


Crab Orchard Falls is a popular and accessible waterfall located at the Valle Crucis Conference Center. The existing access trail (see green trail on page right) will need to be redesigned to offer improved access and to prevent erosion.


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2850 2850

79 2800 2800


The WCTDA will need to partner with local community members, Watauga County, and Valle Crucis Park to repurpose the old Valle Crucis Elementary School (during the time of this plan writing, the new school was under construction). Explore opportunities for expanding greenspace, developing an artisans market, and providing for connectivity among the Mast General Stores and Valle Crucis Park. The Valle Crucis community must be engaged to refine initial concept plans.

Existing


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­

­

­

­

­

­

­

­

Exh 06: OLD VALLE CRUCIS SCHOOL CONCEPTUAL MASTER PLAN

81



Imagine Watauga planning process. The preliminary concept plan for the old school features an open air artisan market, multiple shelters, an open green, and connectivity to Valle Crucis Park. The original, historic part of the school remains intact within this concept, although county officials are uncertain whether they will be able to save any portion of the structure. More community engagement and analysis will be needed to refine and finalize a site plan for the old school site.

Exh 07: OLD VALLE CRUCIS SCHOOL CONCEPTUAL PERSPECTIVE

The consultant team hosted multiple focus group meetings with Valle Crucis stakeholders throughout the

83


3.2 COVE CREEK Cove Creek Preservation and Development and Mountaineer

3.2.2 COVE CREEK ARTISAN MARKET

Ruritan, the two organizations working on community

Partner with the Mountaineer Ruritan to acquire adjacent

development initiatives in Cove Creek, have been actively

property to their building, expand parking, and construct an

involved in the Imagine Watauga process.

artisan market (See Exhibit 09: Proposed Cove Creek Artisans

After multiple joint meetings and visioning sessions, the

Market, page 86).

collective group of leaders identified several key priorities,

3.2.3 COVE CREEK GREENWAY

including: 1) Improve Cove Creek Park; 2) Increase capacity to

Explore the development of a new greenway trail to link

have regular visiting hours for the Doc Watson Museum; 3)

Cove Creek Park and the Mountaineer Ruritan and proposed

Conduct a regular “Music on the Creek” event each Saturday

Cove Creek Artisan Market.

during the summer; 4) Explore the development of an artisans market and expanded parking adjacent to the Mountaineer

3.2.4 PUBLIC ART

Ruritan building (across from Cove Creek General Store); and 5)

Support efforts to incorporate public art at the Cove Creek

Create a greenway trail linking Cove Creek Park to Mountaineer

Ruritan and Cove Creek Park.

Ruritan. To meet these goals, on-going and expanded community engagement is necessary for project success.

IN ACCORDANCE GENERAL PROJECT GOALS, SPECIFIC WCTDA ACTION ITEMS IN SUPPORT OF COVE CREEK INCLUDE THE FOLLOWING:

3.2.5 INTERPRETIVE SIGNAGE Support efforts to add interpretive environmental or historical signage at Mountaineer Ruritan and Cove Creek Park to educate visitors and locals about history and regional geography.

3.2.1 COVE CREEK PARK REDEVELOPMENT Work alongside Cove Creek Preservation and Development and Watauga County to provide for a complete redevelopment of Cove Creek Park including an updated parking lot, new pickleball and tennis courts, and a new playground. Construct a new music stage and bathrooms and provide for decorative fencing around the pump station (See Exhibit 08: Cove Creek Park Conceptual Master Plan, page 85).

Existing

84

Plan Recommendations


­

­

­

­

The consultant team hosted multiple focus group meetings with Cove

Exh 08: COVE CREEK PARK CONCEPTUAL MASTER PLAN

Creek Preservation and Development Inc. throughout the Imagine Watauga planning process. The preliminary concept plan for an updated park features a new stage, pavilion, playground, tennis and pickle ball courts, and restrooms. New parking circulation and expansion will help orient visitors.

85


The consultant team hosted multiple focus group meetings with the Mountaineer Ruritan to explore the redevelopment of the “village” center of Cove Creek. The preliminary concept plan features an open air artisan market, improved parking, controlled vehicular access, and a pedestrian plaza.


Exh 09: PROPOSED COVE CREEK ARTISANS MARKET

Existing

87


3.3 FOSCOE For more than thirty years land use and development in

3.3.3 TRAIL CONNECTIVITY

this key western gateway community has been guided

Explore trail connectivity opportunities between the

by the Foscoe-Grandfather Community Council. In 1990,

following locations: Grandfather Mountain State Park;

Watauga County established a partial-county zoning

Foscoe-Grandfather Community Center; and the large

ordinance to address growth-related issues and help

tracts of land in the vicinity owned by the State of North

preserve the rural character of the district.

Carolina and the Nature Conservancy.

The Foscoe-Grandfather Community Center is vitally

3.3.4 PUBLIC ART

important to this rural village and a dedicated group of

Incorporate public art within the Foscoe community

volunteers remains committed to providing a community-

celebrating the area’s culture and history.

oriented public gathering space and recreational opportunities at this facility in the future. On-going and

3.3.5 COUNTY GATEWAY ENTRY SIGNAGE

expanded community engagement is necessary for project

Install gateway entry monument sign near the Avery

success.

County border on Highway 105.

SPECIFIC WCTDA ACTION ITEMS IN SUPPORT OF FOSCOE INCLUDE THE FOLLOWING: 3.3.1 FOSCOE SMALL-AREA PLANNING Re-establish the Foscoe-Grandfather Community Council and develop a community driven small-area plan to guide future growth, land use development, and infrastructure investments.

3.3.2 FOSCOE-GRANDFATHER COMMUNITY CENTER AND PARK Partner with the Foscoe-Grandfather Community Center to update its facilities, including the band shell, walking path, dog park, and stream bank restoration.

88

Plan Recommendations


3.4 DEEP GAP to eastern Watauga County. The Doc and Merle Watson

3.4.3 MAJOR PARK DEVELOPMENT/ PROPERTY ACQUISITION

Scenic Hwy. 421 Byway offers pastoral scenes and long-

Work with Deep Gap Ruritan to acquire property ideally

range mountain vistas. Protecting the visual landscape

suited for a major recreation facility. In accordance with

of open spaces, mountains, forests, and farms will

visioning meetings with Deep Gap Ruritan, the property

be supremely important as the Highway 421 Corridor

should provide for walking, biking, a stage and music

experiences residential and commercial growth in the

events, picnic shelters, disc golf, and other community

future.

needs.

Organizations such as the Deep Gap Volunteer Fire

3.4.4 COUNTY GATEWAY ENTRY SIGNAGE

Department and Deep Gap Ruritan Club serve vital roles

Install gateway entry monument sign on Hwy. 421 north

for public service and community outreach in this area

of its intersection with Hwy. 221.

The Deep Gap community serves as the primary entryway

of the County and provide important local knowledge regarding community needs and development priorities. Goals from the County’s Deep Gap Gateway Corridor Plan have been incorporated into the recommendations for this important gateway community. On-going and expanded

3.4.5 PUBLIC ART Support public art within the Deep Gap community using the installation of barn quilts, sculpture, murals, etc.

community engagement is necessary for project success.

SPECIFIC WCTDA ACTION ITEMS IN SUPPORT OF DEEP GAP INCLUDE THE FOLLOWING: 3.4.1 VIEWSHED PROTECTION Adhere to planning principles identified in the Watauga County Citizens’ Plan that help maximize and preserve scenic views along Highway 421.

3.4.2 COMMERCIAL DESIGN GUIDELINES Establish design guidelines for new commercial development that encourage land uses compatible with the area’s unique rural character.

Plan Recommendations

89


3.5 GREEN VALLEY/TODD The Green Valley and Todd communities are the primary

3.5.2 TODD RIVER ACCESS

gateways for visitors and local to experience the New

Partner and financially support Blue Ridge Conservancy

River and its boating, tubing, swimming, and fishing

efforts to design, permit, construct, and maintain

opportunities. Green Valley Park has been a long-time

the Todd River Access (note: this action item is

partner of the WCTDA; these groups worked together in

also highlighted in the New River Paddle Trail

2011 to develop the park’s river access and walking loop.

recommendations, section 2.6).

Organizations such as the Deep Gap Volunteer Fire

3.5.3 PUBLIC ART

Department and Deep Gap Ruritan Club serve vital roles for

Incorporate public art within the community featuring

public service and community outreach in this area of the

local artists.

County and provide important local knowledge regarding community needs and development priorities. Goals from

3.5.4 INTERPRETIVE SIGNAGE TRAIL

the County’s Deep Gap Gateway Corridor Plan have been

Install interpretive signage throughout Todd and at

incorporated into the recommendations for this important

Green Valley Park to educate visitors and locals about the

gateway community. On-going and expanded community

region’s history, geography, and environment.

engagement is necessary for project success.

SPECIFIC WCTDA ACTION ITEMS IN SUPPORT OF GREEN VALLEY AND TODD INCLUDE THE FOLLOWING: 3.5.1 GREEN VALLEY ACCESS Partner with Green Valley Park to ensure adequate ongoing maintenance of the existing Green Valley Access. In accordance with the site master plan approved by the WCTDA and Green Valley Park Board of Directors, design, engineer, and construct the improved road access, additional parking, restrooms, shelters, and signage kiosk (note: this action item is also highlighted in the New River Paddle Trail recommendations, section 2.6).

90

Plan Recommendations


Exh 10: GREEN VALLEY

The Green Valley Park river access serves

more than 30,000 locals and visitors each year with a safe access to the New River. To better serve the growing number of users, proposed park improvements include

restrooms, expanded parking, and an

information kiosk.

91


4.

TOWN OF BOONE Boone Town Council and staff were heavily engaged in the Imagine Watauga planning process. In addition, key stakeholders, including the Southern Appalachian Historical Association (Horn in the West), Downtown Boone Development Association, and the arts community provided key insights for downtown improvements, bicycle connectivity, green infrastructure improvements, and arts and culture recommendations. While the Town continues to implement a number of important existing plans, such as the Community Climate Action Plan, Comprehensive Plan, Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan, and others, the aim of Imagine Watauga is to identify the primary infrastructure projects that are critical for expanding quality of life opportunities for local residents and while also driving or significantly enhancing the visitor experience. This section highlights four (4) focus areas for improving tourism infrastructure within the Town of Boone, including:

1. Bicycle Infrastructure and Connectivity 2. Downtown 3. Daniel Boone Park/ Horn in the West 4. Winklers Creek Park

92

Plan Recommendations


4.1 BICYCLE INFRASTRUCTURE, CONNECTIVITY, AND ENHANCEMENTS The Town must aggressively expand its bicycle network

4.1.1.3 Grove Street to Horn in the West. NCDOT’s

to link key community assets and the existing greenway

funded path terminates at Grove Street. The preferred

system with downtown. In addition, increased staff

route will extend to Hwy. 194 and then cross Hwy.

capacity is necessary to provide sufficient attention

421. A proposed retrofit on the existing bike lane and

toward acquiring property, fundraising, engineering and

sidewalk will allow for a 12’ wide multi- use path

design, and construction oversight. Lastly, the system

extending to Horn in the West Drive.

must be well branded and clearly organized to provide an optimal user experience.

4.1.1.4 Horn in the West Drive to Rivers Street/ Downtown. Horn in the West Drive is proposed as a

SPECIFIC SUPPORTING ACTION ITEMS INCLUDE: 4.1.1 PRIMARY BICYCLE CONNECTORS Within the next 15 years focus on five (5) primary bicycle connections (see page 94, Map 12: Proposed Bicycle Connectivity Map), including:

single lane. The existing southbound lane is proposed as new two-way bicycle path lane. 4.1.1.5 Greenway Road to Rivers Street/ Downtown Connector (XBC). The existing greenway terminates near the Walmart shopping center at Greenway Road. Develop a feasibility study for connecting Greenway

4.1.1.1 Rocky Knob to Bolick/ Brookshire Park Connector. Connect Brookshire Park/ South Fork Greenway to Rocky Knob Park. Partner with the Town of Boone and NCDOT to connect a feasibility analysis, secure funding, and implement a multi-use connector path. 4.1.1.2 Brookshire Park to Grove Street. The connector is now funded through NCDOT. Partner with the Town and NCDOT to review the draft design and provide comments prior to final design and construction.

Road to Hwy. 105 to Rivers Street/ Downtown.

4.1.2 BOONE GREENWAY BRANDING AND SIGNAGE PACKAGE Develop a new signage package for the Boone Greenway.

4.1.3 STAFF AND FINANCIAL CAPACITY (TOWN OF BOONE) The Town of Boone must invest a minimum of $20 million in the next 10-15 years to begin advancing the connecting of its assets. This will require additional staff and financial capacity.

Plan Recommendations

93


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Exh 11: HIGHWAY 421 MULTI-USE PATH RENDERING

Existing

The Highway 421 corridor from New Market to Horn in the West Drive provides a critical bicycle connection for linking downtown to residential and commercial areas and Rocky Knob Bike Park. The proposed retrofit of this corridor includes replacing southern sidewalk and bike lane with a multi-use side path. This design will increase width for safe bike/ped travel both ways and improve user safety.

95


HORN IN THE WEST DRIVE

Exh 12: ONE-WAY RENDERING

Horn in the West Drive is an important connector between the proposed Hwy. 421 sidepath and the Farmers Market, Horn in the West Amphitheater, Daniel Boone Native Gardens, and Jaycees Park. In addition, this road provides a nearby connection to Rivers Street, which is a critical connection linking downtown. By making this connector a vehicular one-way street, the other lane can be re-purposed as a multi-use path for bicycles and pedestrians.

Existing


especially for visitors, is quality, uniform signage. Currently, the Boone Greenway incorporates a variety of logos, signs, and support facility styles. Throughout the Imagine Watauga planning process, the consultant team and town staff explored conceptual designs for a new signage system. The system should be further refined and implemented throughout the Town’s greenway system.

Exh 13: BOONE GREENWAY SIGNAGE SYSTEM

An important element of connectivity,

97


4.2 DOWNTOWN Historic Downtown Boone is a critical component of the tourism economy and serves as a cultural and small business hub for both locals and visitors. Within the plan community survey and focus groups, there was significant support for additional green space downtown along with

4.2.4 PEDESTRIAN WAYFINDING AND SIGNAGE In accordance with the downtown brand, develop and implement a downtown pedestrian wayfinding master

signage and other improvements.

plan. See exhibit 19: Conceptual Pedestrian Wayfinding

SPECIFIC ACTION ITEMS INCLUDE:

4.2.5 BOONE GATEWAY ENTRY SIGNAGE

Signage, page 108.

4.2.1 STREETSCAPE IMPROVEMENTS

For both downtown and along the Boone town limits,

Design and implement significant streetscape

develop and implement a gateway signage master plan.

improvement at two major intersections: 1) Depot

See Exhibit 20: Conceptual Gateway Signage, page 109.

St. and King St.; and 2) Water St. and King St. Key streetscape features include curbs to reduce the length of pedestrian crosswalks, installing mast arms for traffic signals, and providing for special materials and pavers at these major Intersections.

4.2.2 DOWNTOWN GREEN SPACE Convert the downtown King Street Pay Lot into an open green, providing for a 1/4 acre park space. See Exhibit 17, page 105.

4.2.3 PUBLIC ART INSTALLATION Develop and implement a detailed public arts plan for downtown that includes a mix of sculpture, murals, and other artistic elements that celebrate the area’s rich history.

Existing

98

Plan Recommendations


pedestrian intersection. Safety and aesthetics are critical elements to ensuring a quality experience among both locals and visitors. Proposed improvements include new curbs (designed with appropriate turn radius), large corner “bump outs” to protect pedestrians and allow for additional public space, and the replacement of signal lines with mast arms. A site plan view of this same design is presented on the subsequent pages.

Exh 14: A NEW PERSPECTIVE FOR KING AND DEPOT

The intersection of King and Depot is Downtown Boone’s primary and busiest

99


Existing


Exh 15: KING AND DEPOT: STREETSCAPE SITE PLAN

101


The Town-owned King Street Pay Lot provides an opportunity for a new downtown public green. An elevated green (option A) would preserve the most existing parking, while an “atgrade” entry (option B) would be most costeffective and provide the greatest accessibility, while preserving some parking from Howard Street.

Existing

Existing


Grade

Exh 16: EXPLORING A DOWNTOWN GREEN @ KING ST. PAY LOT

Grade

103



a playground, walkway, open green, a small stage, and a variety of seating areas. See the next page for a perspective view of the proposed park.

­

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Exh 17: SITE PLAN: DOWNTOWN GREEN @ KING ST. PAY LOT

The proposed downtown green is approximately 1/4 acre in size and features

105


Existing


Exh 18: PERSPECTIVE RENDERING: DOWNTOWN GREEN @ KING ST. PAY LOT

107


Exh 19: DOWNTOWN BOONE WAYFINDING

The proposed pedestrian wayfinding signage will feature major public downtown destinations. The preliminary design aesthetic aligns with the Downtown Boone brand.


New gateway signs are proposed at four locations: 1) Hwy. 321 (see here); 2) Hwy. 105; 3) Hwy. 421/321; and 4) Hwy. 421 (East Boone).

Exh 20: BOONE GATEWAY SIGNAGE

Existing

109


4.3 DANIEL BOONE PARK/ HORN IN THE WEST/ JAYCEES PARK

In 2014 the Town of Boone adopted the Daniel Boone Park Master Plan that called for an amphitheater renovation and an artisan market.

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR DANIEL BOONE PARK INCLUDE:

Daniel Boone Park includes the Horn in the West amphitheater (managed by Southern Appalachian Historical Association (SAHA)),

4.3.1 HORN IN THE WEST AMPHITHEATER

Boone Native Gardens, Strawberry Hill and

Many of the initial recommendations remain

Develop a detailed facility improvement master plan. Partner with SAHA to develop a diverse range of programming opportunities that activate the amphitheater throughout

intact, but a new plan for Jaycees Park was

the entire year.

Jaycees Park. In 2014 the Town of Boone adopted the Daniel Boone Park Master Plan.

13

developed as part of the Imagine Watauga planning effort.

4.3.2 JAYCEES PARK Redevelop Jaycees Park to provide for new shelters, a climbing area, new playground, expanded parking, and connectivity to the Boone Native Gardens.

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Character and theme images by others.

Horn In The West

110

Plan Recommendations


14

Daniel Boone Park Where Boone Tells Its Story

11 12

Conceptual Master Plan Legend

10

8 6

5 9

3

4

2 Hickory Ridge Homestead The Orchard Hickory Ridge Homestead

14

12

Covered Stage & Back of House Entry / Preshow Plaza Ticket Office

3 Community Center 4 Market Pavilion 5 Farmers’ Market Plaza 6 Garden Pavilion 7 Daniel Boone Native Gardens 8 Expanded Garden / Demonstration Area 9 Woodland Gardens

13

1 2

10 Strawberry Hill

Arboretum & Hillside Meadow 11 Observation Tower & Stone Circle 12 Playgrounds 14 Overflow Parking 15 Recycle Center & Maintenance Area

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13 Parking Lot with Bioretention

10

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1 Horn in the West Amphitheater

Exh 21: DANIEL BOONE PARK MASTER PLAN (2012)

15

111


Proposed recommendations at Jaycees Park includes expanded parking, new shelters, a new playground, a boulder/ rock climbing area, and direct connection to the Daniel Boone Native Gardens.


­

Exh 22: JAYCEES PARK CONCEPTUAL MASTER PLAN

113


4.4 WINKLERS CREEK PARK Winkler Creek Reservoir serves as the Town of Boone backup water supply. The 151 acres, including an approximately seven-acre lake, are owned and managed by the Town. Due to significant stakeholder interest in creating a more beginner friendly mountain biking park, the Boone Town Council and Boone Area Cyclists have formally adopted a resolution (see Appendix 02, page 129) to work in partnership to create a beginner friendly bike park with extensive hiking options.

SPECIFIC ACTION ITEMS IN SUPPORT OF WINKLERS CREEK PARK INCLUDE THE FOLLOWING: 4.4.1 PARK MASTER PLAN AND BRANDING Develop a park master plan that provides for facility development, including parking, trail development, and signage. Also, develop a unique brand for the park facility. Obtain formal adoption of the park master plan by Boone Town Council.

4.4.2 FINANCIAL SUPPORT Provide financial support to the Boone Area Cyclists to help implement the park master plan.

4.4.3 ENGINEERING, PERMITTING, AND CONSTRUCTION Develop engineered construction documents and construct the facility in accordance with the adopted plan.

114

Plan Recommendations

NATIONAL SERVIC


Exh 23: WINKLERS CREEK PARK

PA R K CE

+

3920

WEST RIM HUB #2

+

WEST RIM 3870 HUB #1

+

TRAILHEAD PARKING

3630 RESTRICTED ACCESS

GATEWAY OVERLOOK

+

WINKLERS CREEK

3650

+

3770 HOURGLASS HUB

+

3600 LAKESIDE OVERLOOK

+

3880 SOUTH HUB

Existing

115


SOUTH HUB

HOURGLASS+ HUB 3880

COUNCIL RING

HOURGLASS HUB

SHELTER

COUNCIL RING SKILLS AREA

HOURGLASS HUB SHELTER

TRAILHEAD PARKING INTERPRETIVE SIGNAGE GATEWAY OVERLOOK

RS

RESTRICTED ACCESS

HIGH-VISIBILITY CROSSWALK PORTA-JOHN SCREENING

WI

20

HIGH-VISIBILITY CROSSWALK

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PORTA-JOHN SCREENING

ENTRANCE SIGN

LAKESIDE OVERLOOK

DR TES TA

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GATEWAY OVERLOOK

RESTRICTED ACCESS

CR EE KE S

INTERPRETIVE SIGNAGE

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Exh 24: WINKLERS CREEK PARK CONCEPTUAL MASTER PLAN

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3630

117



5 Implementation 5.1 General Recommendations 5.2 Implementation Matrix 5.3 Key Grant Funding Opportunities

This chapter presents general recommendations for implementation, a summary implementation matrix and key grant funding organizations.


5.1

GENERAL RECOMMENDATIONS The Imagine Watauga Action Plan provides a community-led vision and 15-year roadmap to create and enhance outdoor infrastructure that benefits both tourists and residents. The pursuit of any action or project must be underpinned by one or more of the six (6) guiding principles including: 1) Connectivity; 2) Education and Awareness; 3) Outdoor Recreation; 4) Arts and Culture; 5) Rural Villages; and 6) Spread Demand. The Boone and Watauga County TDAs should consider seven (7) general recommendations as they work to implement the Imagine Watauga Action Plan, which include the following:

1. IMAGINE WATAUGA IMPLEMENTATION COMMITTEE: Establish an Imagine Watauga Implementation Committee (approximately 6-10 members) composed of representatives from local government, non-profits, and other key stakeholder groups. The committee will meet quarterly to prioritize projects, identify appropriate funding sources, and dedicate appropriate staff levels to realize each project.

2. IMAGINE WATAUGA PLANNER STAFF POSITION: Consider hiring a staff position, such as an Outdoor Recreation Planner or Tourism Infrastructure Planner, to assist in the implementation of Imagine Watauga. Responsibilities will include solidifying partnerships with stakeholders, procuring funding, project management, identifying marketing opportunities for completed projects, and generally implementing the Imagine Watauga Action Plan.

120

Exh 25: GUIDING PRINCIPLES Connectivity Education & Awareness

Dispersion

3. IMAGINE WATAUGA PROMOTION: Require any organization or entity utilizing WCTDA funding to include the Imagine Watauga name and or logo within all press releases, groundbreakings, and ribbon cuttings. This requirement should be included in an MOU with TDA funding recipients.

4. MAINTENANCE AND MANAGEMENT PLAN: Ensure that all organizations that obtain TDA funding have a clear plan for management and maintenance. This requirement should be included in an MOU with TDA funding recipients. In addition, the TDA should have an MOU with the County and Town regarding the maintenance of TDA funded capital projects.

5. IMAGINE WATAUGA PARK RANGER POSITION: Consider hiring a staff position to help with the security of park facilities. This position could be funded by the TDA through a partnership with Watauga County and its sheriff’s office.

Implementation

Rural Village

Arts & Culture

Outdoor Recreation

All plan recommendations support at least one or more of the Imagine Watauga Guiding Principles.

6. GATEWAY SIGNAGE AND BRANDING: Create branding and signage packages for gateways and other signage (greenway, downtown, etc.) for both Watauga County and the Town of Boone.

7. PUBLIC ART: In collaboration with Watauga County Arts Council, develop a public art master plan for Watauga County that features local artisans. As part of this planning effort, an extensive list of possible art locations was submitted to the TDA.


5.2

IMPLEMENTATION MATRIX PLAN RECOMMENDATIONS

TIMEFRAME

KEY PARTNERS

1.1.1 Trail Investment. Provide funding to the parkway’s non-profit partners to continue existing partnerships with Youth Conservation Corp crews and the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation’s trail project manager to prioritize repairs and improvements, organize community and volunteer involvement, and implement new trail projects.

Ongoing

Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation; National Park Service

1.1.2 Signage and Information. Work with Parkway officials to improve signage at trailheads and park areas to provide visitors quality information.

Long-term

1. Federal and State Parks and Trails 1.1 BLUE RIDGE PARKWAY

1.2 MOUNTAINS TO SEA STATE TRAIL 1.2.1 Mountains-to-Sea State Trail (MST) Relocation. Support efforts by the Friends of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail (FMST) to conduct an environmental assessment of the Parkway corridor to identify potential opportunities to relocate the trail off the Blue Ridge Parkway road shoulder.

Mid-term

1.2.2 FMST Volunteer Trail Crews. Support FMST task force leaders and volunteers in their efforts to maintain and improve the trail experience.

Ongoing

1.3 NORTHERN PEAKS STATE TRAIL 1.3.1 Northern Peaks State Trail Implementation. Partner with Blue Ridge Conservancy and the NPST Coordinator to implement the NPST five-year plan.

On-going

1.3.2 Northern Peaks State Trail Node Development at Howard Knob Park. Assist with funding of planned park improvements at Howard Knob Park to create a destination-trailhead for the NPST.

Near-term

Friends of Mountains to Sea Trail; Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation; National Park Service Blue Ridge Conservancy; NC Division of Parks and Recreation; Watauga County

1.4 ELK KNOB STATE PARK 1.4.1 Northern Peaks State Trail Development. Support efforts for existing trail improvements and new trail and facility development within the planned NPST planning corridor at Elk Knob State Park.

Near-term

1.4.2 Elk Knob State Park Master Plan Implementation. Partner with NC State Parks to improve and expand recreation opportunities in accordance with the Elk Knob State Park Master Plan.

On-going

1.5 GRANDFATHER MOUNTAIN STATE PARK 1.5.1 Grandfather Mountain State Park General Management Plan. Partner with NC State Parks to improve and expand recreation opportunities in accordance with the Grandfather Mountain State Park General Management Plan (GMP).

Long-term

NC Division of Parks and Recreation

Mid-term

NC Division of Parks and Recreation

1.6 BEAR PAW STATE NATURAL AREA 1.6.1 Infrastructure Development for Access at Bear Paw State Natural Area. Support efforts for facility and trail development to promote public access.

Blue Ridge Conservancy; NC Division of Parks and Recreation

2. Regional and Local Parks and Trails 2.1 MIDDLE FORK GREENWAY 2.1.1 Ongoing Financial Support. Provide consistent, financial support to Blue Ridge Conservancy for the purpose of securing land, completing engineering studies, restoring the Middle Fork New River and its tributaries, and constructing the greenway and associated pocket parks, trailheads, and support facilities.

On-going

2.1.2 Public Art. Partner with Blue Ridge Conservancy and the Watauga Arts Council to install public art along the Middle Fork Greenway.

On-going

2.1.3 Interpretive Signage. Support efforts to install environmental and historical interpretive signage along the Middle Fork Greenway to further educate locals and visitors on our unique region, geography, and ancillary benefits of building greenway infrastructure (ie. stream and habitat restoration).

On-going

Implementation

Blue Ridge Conservancy; Watauga Arts Council

121


PLAN RECOMMENDATIONS

TIMEFRAME

KEY PARTNERS

2.2.1 Extend South Fork Greenway. Support efforts to extend the South Fork Greenway north of Ted Mackorell Soccer Complex. Work with local land trusts (New River Conservancy and Blue Ridge Conservancy) to conduct landowner outreach.

Mid-term

2.2.2 Public Art. Support efforts to incorporate public art at Brookshire Park, the Ted Mackorell Soccer Complex, and along the South Fork Greenway.

Mid-term

2.2.3 Interpretive Signage. Support efforts to install environmental and historical interpretive signage along the Middle Fork Greenway to further educate locals and visitors on the unique region, geography, and ancillary benefits of building greenway infrastructure (ie. stream and habitat restoration).

Blue Ridge Conservancy; Watauga Arts Council

Mid-term

2. Regional and Local Parks and Trails (cont’d) 2.2 SOUTH FORK GREENWAY/BROOKSHIRE PARK

2.3 ROCKY KNOB MOUNTAIN BIKE PARK 2.3.1 Trail Maintenance and Expansion. Continue to support efforts of Boone Area Cyclists (BAC) to redevelop, expand, and further improve the bike park’s trail system. An annual financial contribution from the WCTDA to BAC will ensure the maintenance of trails, risk management signage, and the design and construction of new trail opportunities.

On-going

2.3.2 Finalize Pump Track Development. Finalize the Velo pump track by installing new support facilities including additional parking, a covered shelter, and community plaza.

Near-term

Boone Area Cyclists; NCDOT; Watauga Arts Council

2.4 HOWARD KNOB PARK 2.4.1 Howard Knob Park Master Plan Implementation. Partner with Watauga County to implement the Howard Knob Park Master Plan including parking area expansion, support facility improvements, and additional recreation amenities.

Near-term

2.4.2 Northern Peaks State Trail Connector Signage. Develop informational and interpretive signs that provide visitors with information about the NPST corridor and its unique biodiversity.

Near-term

2.4.3 Public Art. Partner with the Watauga Arts Council to incorporate public art at Howard Knob Park.

Mid-term

2.4.4 Educational Interpretive Signage. Support efforts to develop and install interpretive signage to educate residents and visitors on the unique geography, geology, and history of the park and Boone’s nearest amphibolite peak.

Near-term

Watauga County; Blue Ridge Conservancy; Watauga Arts Council

2.5 WATAUGA RIVER PADDLE TRAIL 2.5.1 Valle Crucis Access. Partner and financially support Blue Ridge Conservancy efforts to design, permit, construct, and maintain the Valle Crucis River Access.

Near-term

2.5.2 Watauga River Road Access. Partner with Blue Ridge Conservancy and other community stakeholders to purchase property and develop a river access along Watauga River Road between the Valle Crucis Access and Watauga Gorge Park.

Mid-term

2.5.3 Watauga Gorge Access. Partner with Watauga County to ensure adequate, ongoing maintenance of the existing Watauga Gorge Access. 2.5.4 Guy Ford Access. Partner with Watauga County to ensure adequate, ongoing maintenance of the existing Guy Ford Access. 2.5.5 Public Art. Partner with the Watauga Arts Council to incorporate public art at appropriate river accesses along the Watauga River Paddle Trail. 2.5.6 Interpretive Signage. Support efforts to install interpretive, environmental, and historical signage along the Watauga River Paddle Trail to educate visitors and locals about the river, environmental issues, local history, and regional geography.

On-going On-going Mid-term

Blue Ridge Conservancy; Watauga County; Watauga River Keeper

Mid-term

2.6 NEW RIVER PADDLE TRAIL 2.6.1 Boone Access. Partner with the Town of Boone and Boone TDA to install an information kiosk (featuring a paddle trail map and safety information) in accordance with established WCTDA facility design standards for the New River Paddle Trail. 2.6.2 Roby Greene Access. Pursue a land acquisition and access development adjacent to Roby Greene Road bridge. 2.6.3 Pine Run Access. Partner with Watauga County to ensure adequate ongoing maintenance of the existing Pine Run Access. 2.6.4 Milton Moretz Access. Support efforts to purchase property and develop a river access along Milton Moretz Road.

Near-term Long-term On-going Long-term

2.6.5 Castle Ford Access. Purchase property and develop a river access along Castle Ford Road between the proposed Milton Moretz Access and Green Valley Park.

Near-term

2.6.6 Green Valley Access. Partner with Green Valley Park to ensure adequate, ongoing maintenance of the existing Green Valley Access. In accordance with the site master plan approved by the WCTDA and Green Valley Park Board of Directors; design, engineer, and construct the improved road access, additional parking, restrooms, shelters, and signage kiosk.

Near-term

2.6.7 Todd Access. Partner and financially support Blue Ridge Conservancy efforts to design, permit, construct, and maintain the Todd River Access. 2.6.8 Public Art. Partner with the Watauga Arts Council to incorporate public art at appropriate river accesses along the New River Paddle Trail. 2.6.9 Interpretive Signage. Support efforts to install interpretive, environmental, and historical signage along the New River Paddle Trail to educate visitors and locals about the river, environmental issues, local history, and regional geography.

Mid-term On-going On-going

Watauga County; Town of Boone; Green Valley Park


PLAN RECOMMENDATIONS

TIMEFRAME

KEY PARTNERS

3. Rural Villages 3.1 VALLE CRUCIS 3.1.1 Trail Connectivity. Work alongside Blue Ridge Conservancy and local partners to provide for trail connectivity among key destinations, including: Valle Crucis Conference Center; Mast General Stores; Valle Crucis Park; Valle Crucis Access on the Watauga River; old Valle Crucis School; new Valle Crucis School; Mast Farm Inn; and Mission Ridge.

On-going

3.1.2 Valle Crucis Conference Center (VCCC) Trail System Redevelopment. Partner with the VCCC to design and construct a new hiking trail system throughout their 450 acre property. The highest priority is to redesign and construct a new trail accessing Crabtree Falls. Provide for appropriate signage and a dedicated parking area. Partner with Blue Ridge Conservancy to incorporate their adjacent property into the new trail system.

Near-term

3.1.3 Old Elementary School and Valle Landing County Property. Partner with Watauga County and Valle Crucis Park to repurpose the old Valle Crucis Elementary School (during the time of this plan writing, the new school was under construction). Explore opportunities for expanding greenspace, developing an artisans market, and providing for connectivity among the Mast General Stores and Valle Crucis Park. Further engage the Valle Crucis community to refine all concept plans.

Mid-term

3.1.4 Valle Crucis Park. Partner with Valle Crucis Park to identify and implement key projects that will assist in visitor management and provide new opportunities for park users.

Mid-term

3.1.5 Public Art. Partner with community partners and the Watauga Arts Council to incorporate public art at appropriate areas throughout Valle Crucis.

On-going

3.1.6 Interpretive Signage. Support efforts to install environmental or historical interpretive signage throughout Valle Crucis to educate visitors and locals about history and regional geography.

On-going

Valle Crucis Conference Center; Valle Crucis Park; Valle Crucis Community Coalition; Blue Ridge Conservancy; Watauga County; Watauga River Keeper

3.2 COVE CREEK 3.2.1 Cove Creek Park Redevelopment. Work alongside Cove Creek Preservation and Development and Watauga County to provide for a complete redevelopment of Cove Creek Park including an updated parking lot, new pickleball and tennis courts, and a new playground. Construct a new music stage and bathrooms and provide for decorative fencing around the pump station.

Near-term

3.2.2 Cove Creek Artisan Market. Partner with the Mountaineer Ruritan to acquire adjacent property to their building, expand parking, and construct an artisan market.

Near-term

3.2.3 Cove Creek Greenway. Explore the development of a new greenway trail to link Cove Creek Park, the Mountaineer Ruritan, and proposed Cove Creek Artisan Market.

On-going

3.2.4 Public Art. Support efforts to incorporate public art at the Cove Creek Ruritan and Cove Creek Park.

On-going

3.2.5 Interpretive Signage. Support efforts to add interpretive, environmental, or historical signage at Mountaineer Ruritan and Cove Creek Park to educate visitors and locals about history and regional geography.

On-going

Cove Creek Ruritan; Cove Creek Preservation & Development; Blue Ridge Conservancy; Watauga County

3.3 FOSCOE 3.3.1 Foscoe Small-Area Planning. Re-establish the Foscoe-Grandfather Community Council and develop a community driven small-area plan to guide future growth, land use development, and infrastructure investments.

Mid-term

3.3.2 Foscoe-Grandfather Community Center and Park. Partner with the Foscoe-Grandfather Community Center to update its facilities, including the band shell, walking path, dog park, and stream bank restoration.

Long-term

3.3.3 Trail Connectivity. Explore trail connectivity opportunities between the following locations: Grandfather Mountain State Park; FoscoeGrandfather Community Center; and the large tracts of land in the vicinity owned by the State of North Carolina and the Nature Conservancy.

On-going

3.3.4 Public Art. Incorporate public art within the Foscoe community celebrating the area’s culture and history.

Near-term

3.3.5 County Gateway Entry Signage. Install gateway entry monument sign near the Avery County border on Highway 105.

Near-term

Foscoe-Grandfather Community Center, Inc.; Grandfather Mountain State Park; Nature Conservancy

3.4 DEEP GAP 3.4.1 Viewshed Protection. Adhere to planning principles identified in the Watauga County Citizens’ Plan that help maximize and preserve scenic views along Highway 421.

On-going

3.4.2 Commercial Design Guidelines. Establish design guidelines for new commercial development that encourage land uses compatible with the area’s unique rural character.

Near-term

3.4.3 Major Park Development/ Property Acquisition. Work with Deep Gap Ruritan to acquire property ideally suited for a major recreation facility that provides for walking, biking, a stage and music events, picnic shelters, disc golf, and other community needs.

Mid-term

3.4.4 County Gateway Entry Signage. Install gateway entry monument sign on Hwy. 421 north of its intersection with Hwy. 221.

Near-term

3.4.5 Public Art. Support public art within the Deep Gap community using the installation of barn quilts, sculpture, murals, etc.

Near-term

Watauga County, Deep Gap Ruritan


PLAN RECOMMENDATIONS

TIMEFRAME

KEY PARTNERS

3.5.1 Green Valley Access. Partner with Green Valley Park to ensure adequate, ongoing maintenance of the existing Green Valley Access. In accordance with the site master plan approved by the WCTDA and Green Valley Park Board of Directors, design, engineer, and construct the improved road access, additional parking, restrooms, shelters, and signage kiosk.

On-going

3.5.2 Todd Access. Partner and financially support Blue Ridge Conservancy efforts to design, permit, construct, and maintain the Todd River Access.

Near-term

3.5.3 Public Art. Incorporate public art within the community featuring installation by local artists.

On-going

Todd Community Preservation; Green Valley Park; Blue Ridge Conservancy

3.5.4 Interpretive Signage Trail. Install interpretive signage throughout Todd and at Green Valley Park to educate visitors and locals about the region’s history, geography, and environment.

On-going

3. Rural Villages (Cont’d) 3.5 GREEN VALLEY/ TODD

4. Town of Boone 4.1 BICYCLE INFRASTRUCTURE, CONNECTIVITY, AND ENHANCEMENTS 4.1.1 Primary Bicycle Connectors. Within the next 15 years focus on five (5) primary bicycle connections. 4.1.1.1 Rocky Knob to Bolick/ Brookshire Park Connector. Connect Brookshire Park/South Fork Greenway to Rocky Knob Park. Partner with the Town of Boone and NCDOT to conduct a feasibility analysis, secure funding, and implement a multi-use connector path.

Mid-term

4.1.1.2 Brookshire Park to Grove Street. The connector is now funded through NCDOT. Partner with the Town and NCDOT to review the draft design and provide comments prior to final design and construction.

Near-term

4.1.1.3 Grove Street to Horn in the West. NCDOT’s funded path terminates at Grove Street. The preferred route will extend to Hwy. 194 and then cross Hwy. 421. A proposed retrofit on the existing bike lane and sidewalk will allow for a 12’ wide multi-use path extending to Horn in the West Drive.

Long-term

4.1.1.4 Horn in the West Drive to Rivers Street/ Downtown. Horn in the West Drive is proposed as a single lane. The existing southbound lane is proposed as a new two-way bicycle path lane.

Long-term

4.1.1.5 Greenway Road to Rivers Street/ Downtown Connector (XBC). The existing greenway terminates near the Walmart shopping center at Greenway Road. Develop a feasibility study for connecting Greenway Road to Hwy. 105 to Rivers Street/ Downtown.

Mid-term

4.1.2 Boone Greenway Branding and Signage Package. Develop a new signage package for the Boone Greenway.

Near-term

4.1.3 Staff and Financial Capacity (Town of Boone). The Town of Boone must invest a minimum of $20 million in the next 10-15 years to begin advancing the connection of its assets. This will require additional staff and financial capacity.

Long-term

Town of Boone; Watauga County; NCDOT

4.2 DOWNTOWN 4.2.1 Streetscape Improvements. Design and implement significant streetscape improvements at two major intersections: 1) Depot Street and King Street; and 2) Water Street and King Street. Extend curbs to reduce the length of pedestrian crosswalks, install mast arms for traffic signals, and provide for special materials and pavers at these major intersections.

Mid-term

4.2.2 Downtown Green Space. Convert the downtown King Street Pay Lot into an open green, providing for a 1⁄4 acre park space.

Near-term

4.2.3 Public Art Installation. Develop and implement a detailed public arts plan for downtown that includes a mix of sculpture, murals, and other artistic elements that celebrate the area’s rich history.

Near-term

4.2.4 Pedestrian Wayfinding and Signage. In accordance with the downtown brand, develop and implement a downtown pedestrian wayfinding master plan.

Near-term

4.2.5 Boone Gateway Entry Signage. For both downtown and along the Boone town limits, develop and implement a gateway signage master plan.

Near-term

4.3 DANIEL BOONE PARK/ HORN IN THE WEST/JAYCEES PARK 4.3.1 Horn in the West Amphitheater. Develop a detailed facility improvement master plan. Partner with SAHA to develop a diverse range of programming opportunities that activate the amphitheater throughout the entire year.

Mid-term

4.3.2 Jaycees Park. Redevelop Jaycees Park to provide for a new shelters, a climbing area, new playground, expanded parking, and connectivity to the Boone Native Gardens.

Mid-term

Town of Boone; Watauga County Arts Council; NCDOT

Town of Boone; Southern Appalachian Historical Society (SAHA)

4.4 WINKLERS CREEK PARK 4.4.1 Park Master Plan and Branding. Develop a park master plan that provides for facility development, including parking, trail development, and signage. Also, develop a unique brand for the park facility. Obtain formal adoption of the park master plan by Boone Town Council.

Near-term

4.4.2 Financial Support. Provide financial support to the Boone Area Cyclists to help implement the park master plan.

On-going

4.4.3 Engineering, Permitting, and Construction. Develop engineered construction documents and construct the facility in accordance with the adopted plan.

Near-term

Town of Boone; Boone Area Cyclists



5.3

KEY GRANT FUNDING OPPORTUNITIES APPALACHIAN REGIONAL COMMISSION (ARC)

NC PARKS & RECREATION TRUST FUND (PARTF)

THE NORTH CAROLINA LAND AND WATER FUND

The Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) is a federal economic development agency focusing on the Appalachian region that partners with states and local communities to make grants supporting a broad range of economic development categories. Investment priorities include projects related to community infrastructure, regional culture and tourism, and building businesses and workforce ecosystems.

PARTF provides grants to local governments for the acquisition and development of parks and recreation projects that serve the general public. Grant funds can be used to acquire land, protect natural resources, renovate existing parks, and build new parks or other recreational facilities.

The NC Land and Water Fund supports local government projects that improve water quality, sustain ecological diversity, and protect natural resources. Grant funds may be used to acquire lands, restore fish and wildlife habitat, and manage stormwater runoff. Public access to trails, greenways and open space is a priority for the Land and Water Fund.

LOWE’S HOMETOWN GRANTS The Lowe’s Hometown Grants Program supports community projects that involve making physical improvements or enhancements. Projects must be sponsored by a nonprofit or government entity and must fall into at least one of the following categories: community resources/space; safe affordable housing; cultural preservation; area revitalization; and/or skilled trades education initiatives.

NC DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE, RURAL ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT DIVISION (REDD), FEDERAL COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT BLOCK GRANT (CDBG) ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT GRANTS REDD administers federal CDBG funds for local governments to use for various types of public infrastructure improvements, including those that protect water resources. Funding is awarded based on the potential for projects to attract or retain businesses, create jobs, and drive economic development.

NC DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE, RURAL ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT DIVISION (REDD), STATE RURAL GRANTS REDD provides state grants to local governments to assist with publicly owned infrastructure projects. Projects must be associated with job creation and be in the state’s most economically distressed areas according to the Commerce Department’s tier ranking system.

RECREATIONAL TRAILS PROGRAM (RTP) The Recreational Trails Program is a federal grant program designed to help states develop recreational trails. The North Carolina Trails Program administers the program and provides funds to support trail- related projects in local communities including land acquisition, trail construction, trail maintenance, and safety and education programs.

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE, RURAL DEVELOPMENT The Rural Development program offers grants and loans to help develop or improve essential public services and facilities in rural communities. Funds may be used to construct, expand, or develop community- based initiatives that improve the quality of life and assist in the economic development and sustainability of rural areas.

NC WATER RESOURCES DEVELOPMENT GRANT PROGRAM The NC Division of Water Resources issues grants to fund local development projects for the purposes of stream restoration, water-based recreation, and engineering studies. Water-based recreation projects may include: greenways, trails, and boardwalks; paddle accesses and fishing docks; and land acquisition for recreation sites by local governments.

PEOPLE FOR BIKES COMMUNITY GRANT Community Grant that supports bicycle infrastructure projects and targeted initiatives that make it easier and safer for people of all ages and abilities to bike.

AARP COMMUNITY CHALLENGE GRANT Small grant to fund quick-action projects that can help communities become more livable for people of all ages.

T-MOBILE HOMETOWN GRANTS T-Mobile has partnered with Smart Growth America and Main Street America, to help build stronger and more prosperous small towns and rural communities. With the Hometown Grant program, the company is investing in communities by awarding grants of up to $50,000 for qualifying projects. The T-Mobile Hometown Grants program will help fund projects that build or renovate public spaces.

STATE STREET-AID PROGRAM (POWELL BILL) The NC State Street-Aid program (Powell Bill) provides proceeds from gas taxes directly to municipalities based on their population and the mileage of public streets within the community not included in the state highway system. Funds allocated to cities and towns under the provisions of the Powell Bill may be used for the planning, construction, and maintenance of bikeways, greenways, and sidewalks.

LOCAL BOND Consider a local bond, particularly in the Town of Boone, to augment TDA funding and implement the numerous major projects identified within the Imagine Watauga Action Plan.


PARTNERSHIP FUNDING AGENCY

PLAN IMPLICATIONS

Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) Area Development Grants

Regional culture and tourism

Lowe’s Hometown Grant

MAXIMUM MATCHING FUNDS DEADLINES AMOUNT REQUIRED $1,000,000

30%

TBD

Community projects that involve making physical improvements

Varies

N/A

Spring

NC Commerce, Rural Economic Development Division (REDD), Federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG)

Infrastructure projects that impact economic development

Varies

N/A

Varies

NC Commerce, Rural Economic Development Division (REDD), State Rural Grants

Infrastructure projects that support job creation

Varies

N/A

Varies

NC Parks and Recreation Trust Fund (PARTF)

All types of parks, trails, and recreation facilities

$500,000

50%

Early May

NC Recreational Trails Program (RTP)

All types of trails, greenways, and paddle access areas

$100,000

25%

Varies

USDA Rural Development

Infrastructure, community facilities, streetscape enhancements

Varies

Varies

Rolling

NC Water Resources Development Grant Program

Greenways, boardwalks, and water access areas

Varies

50%

Late Dec/ Late June

People for Bikes Community Grant

Bike Trails and Greenways

$10,000

50%

Spring/Fall

NC Land and Water Fund

Stream restoration, enhancement, or stabilization

Varies

Varies

Early February

AARP Community Challenge Grant

Help communities become more livable for people of all ages

Varies

N/A

Early March

T-Mobile Hometown Grant

Community and Public Spaces

$50,000

N/C

Rolling/ Quarterly

State Street-Aid Program (Power Bill)

Sidewalks, greenways, bike lanes

Varies

50%

Annual Submittals

Local Bond

Implement major projects in Imagine Watauga

N/A

N/A

N/A

Implementation

127



A Appendix


Work with Mountain Region Trails Specialist on trail layout as land becomes available Construct a section of trail in Elk Knob State Park

Trail Development Complete the biological survey of NPST planning corridor. BRC will contract with the N.C. Natural Heritage Program to inventory rare species and natural areas within the NPST planning corridor. The study will guide the final trail location to minimize the impact on the natural heritage qualities of the corridor. Locate the trail after completion of the biological survey. BRC will work with partner agencies to locate the trail route within the corridor surveyed by the Natural Heritage Program. This trail route will be used to secure cost estimates from trail builders. Construct trail segments at Elk Knob State Park, Three Top Mountain Game Land and Paddy Mountain. Contract with private trail builders to construct NPST at locations agreed upon by land managing entities. Construction includes the trail, parking areas, restrooms and other facilities needed for the trail. Recruit trail volunteers for each segment of the trail that has been constructed. Once the trail is constructed there will be a need for continuous management and maintenance. BRC will organize a ‘Friends’ group to help land managers with this task. Acquire additional land along the trail corridor. BRC and its partners will acquire land from willing sellers to construct the trail and protect the trail’s conservation values.

A.1 aks Sta n Pe te er T th

il ra

No r

NORTHERN PEAKS STRATEGIC TRAIL PLAN t ra

Northern Peaks State Trail Plan: 2022-2027

Elk Knob and Snake Mountain (14 miles)

Blue Ridge Conservancy Planned Length: 40 miles

Complete the Trails Funds: $286,943

Miles Designated: 0

Capacity Funds: $49,500

Biological Study: Complete the biological study along the proposed trail corridor on lands owned by Elk Knob State Park and willing public and private landowners. Land Acquisitions: Complete acquisitions from willing sellers to connect and expand public land for inclusion in Elk Knob State Park. Construct the trail along the most appropriate route as determined by the biological study and State Parks. Create a Friends group and recruit trail volunteers to help maintain sections of trail at Elk Knob State Park.

i l s . n c . g ov

Capacity Building Funds: Blue Ridge Conservancy (BRC) will increase staff capacity to plan, design, construct and maintain the Northern Peaks State Trail (NPST). A new staff position will be created by leveraging additional funds with the capacity building grant. This staff position will be the main contact for the NPST and will partner with N.C. State Parks, NC Wildlife Resources Commission, N.C. Plant Conservation Program, Ashe County, Watauga County, West Jefferson, Jefferson, Boone and private landowners to create the NPST. The biological study, general trail alignment and one new section of trail will be completed with the funds. Project Coordinator Deliverables: Meet with land management agencies to discuss trail alignment, parking, and timeframes: N.C. State Parks, N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, and N.C. Plant Conservation Program Meet with local government to garner support for trail construction and management: Ashe County, West Jefferson, Watauga County, and Boone Outreach to private landowners within the proposed trail corridor Assist with the completion of the biological survey conducted by N.C. Natural Heritage Program Work with Mountain Region Trails Specialist on trail layout as land becomes available Construct a section of trail in Elk Knob State Park

Three Top Mountain Game Land and The Peak (14 miles) Biological Study: Complete the biological study along the proposed trail corridor on lands owned by Elk Knob State Park and NC Wildlife Resources Commission. Land Acquisitions: Complete acquisitions from willing sellers to connect and expand public land at Elk Knob State Park and Three Top Mountain Game Land. Construct the trail along the most appropriate route as determined by the biological study and land managers. Create a Friends group and recruit trail volunteers to help maintain sections of trail on Three Top Mountain.

Northern Peaks State Trail Plan 2022-2027

Trail Development Complete the biological survey of NPST planning corridor. BRC will contract with the N.C. Natural Heritage Program to inventory rare species and natural areas within the NPST planning corridor. The study will guide the final trail location to minimize the impact on the natural heritage qualities of the corridor. Locate the trail after completion of the biological survey. BRC will work with partner agencies to locate the trail route within the corridor surveyed by the Natural Heritage Program. This trail route will be used to secure cost estimates from trail builders. Construct trail segments at Elk Knob State Park, Three Top Mountain Game Land and Paddy Mountain. Contract with private trail builders to construct NPST at locations agreed upon by land managing entities. Construction includes the trail, parking areas, restrooms and other facilities needed for the trail. Recruit trail volunteers for each segment of the trail that has been constructed. Once the trail is constructed there will be a need for continuous management and maintenance. BRC will organize a ‘Friends’ group to help land managers with this task. Acquire additional land along the trail corridor. BRC and its partners will acquire land from willing sellers to construct the trail and protect the trail’s conservation values.

Biological Study: Complete the biological study along the proposed trail corridor on lands owned by Mount Jefferson State Natural Area and willing private landowners. Determine trail corridor through the downtown of West Jefferson to link BRC land on Paddy Mountain to Mount Jefferson State Natural Area. Land Acquisitions: Complete acquisitions from willing sellers to create a corridor between Paddy Mountain and Mount Jefferson State Natural Area. Construct the trail along the most appropriate route. Create a Friends group and recruit trail volunteers to help maintain sections of trail in this section.

Complete the Trail (CTF) Projects: Construct 4 miles of new trail and rehabilitate 2 miles existing trail at Elk Knob State Park and construct one new parking area. Estimated total cost $1.1 million CTF funds will be leveraged to help with trail construction and parking facilities. Construct 8 miles of new trail at Three Top Mountain Game Land, upgrade two existing parking areas and construct one new parking area. Estimated total cost $1.4 million CTF funds will be leveraged to help with trail construction and parking facilities. Land acquisition along the proposed trail corridor from Snake Mountain to Mount Jefferson. Estimated cost $3.7 million CTF funds will be leveraged to help with land acquisitions.

2023 Year of the Trail Celebrations Planned/Anticipated:

Elk Knob and Snake Mountain (14 miles) Biological Study: Complete the biological study along the proposed trail corridor on lands owned by Elk Knob State Park and willing public and private landowners. Land Acquisitions: Complete acquisitions from willing sellers to connect and expand public land for inclusion in Elk Knob State Park. Construct the trail along the most appropriate route as determined by the biological study and State Parks. Create a Friends group and recruit trail volunteers to help maintain sections of trail at Elk Knob State Park.

Three Top Mountain Game Land and The Peak (14 miles) Biological Study: Complete the biological study along the proposed trail corridor on lands owned by Elk Knob State Park and NC Wildlife Resources Commission. Land Acquisitions: Complete acquisitions from willing sellers to connect and expand public land at Elk Knob State Park and Three Top Mountain Game Land. Construct the trail along the most appropriate route as determined by the biological study and land managers. Create a Friends group and recruit trail volunteers to help maintain sections of trail on Three Top Mountain.

130

West Jefferson and Mount Jefferson State Natural Area (12 miles)

Appendix

Celebrate the start of trail construction at Elk Knob State Park or Three Top Mountain Game Land.

Needed technical/other assistance needed from State Parks:

Assistance with the planning and layout of the trail corridor along the proposed route from willing land managers. Assistance with parking area design standards to create a common theme throughout the NPST.


A.2

WINKLERS CREEK TOWN OF BOONE AND BOONE AREA CYCLISTS RESOLUTION

Appendix

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© Destination by Design 2023


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