ASHE COUNTY-Lansing’s largest community development project in more than 70 years got underway this week as town leaders broke ground on the new Creeper Trail Park expansion.
It’s a $1.2 million project several years in the making, and town leaders said this week they hope the project becomes a major draw for visitors and a shot in the arm for local property values.
“It’s no small thing that we’re actually going to be able to get started on this project,” Lansing Mayor George Rembert said. “We’re thrilled, we’re excited that we’re going to actually start seeing some progress as opposed to just knowing that it’s coming.”
The first phase of construction will create new nature trails and parking areas, while follow-on phases will turn two barns on the land into a community center and a performance stage, develop a playground and primitive camping areas, among other additions.
The expansion runs from East Little Horse Creek Bridge down to the foot of the pre-existing park area near Patton Road, according to Lansing Alderman Dylan Lightfoot, and extends beyond the ridge on the west side of town.
Since late 2013, Lansing has worked with Greater Lansing Area Development and community members to collect more than $1 million to get the build underway. The project lacks less than $200,000 to meet its build out goals, Lightfoot said.
And recently an anonymous donor pledged $45,000 to help the project reach it funding goals.
“I think we’re going to see more of that now that we’re starting construction,” Rembert said. “People will be able to see that this is actually going to happen and I think it’ll make it easier to raise the remainder of the money.”
Lightfoot, who is currently running unopposed to become the town’s next mayor, said he’s just glad the land purchase part of the project is finished. Over the past two years, the town has negotiated land buys that raised the Creeper Trail Park’s space to more than 70-acres.
“That’s a big deal because we’re not going to have to worry about vision-less development in that part of town,” Lightfoot said. “We’ve got a chance to take a lot of great ideas and build something that’s going to be a draw for people.”
He called the expanded park the community’s biggest development project since the the old Lansing School was built in the 1930s.
“The people who come to this area, to this region, to take advantage of the entire constellation of great outdoor stuff, that’s who we want to appeal to,” Lightfoot said. “And when this is done I think it will do that.”
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