Earlier this month I covered a Wilkesboro Parks and Recreation Board meeting for a follow-up story on the possible expansion of pickleball courts at Cub Creek Park.

Pickleball doesn’t normally make the front page of the newspaper, but it did this time because the expansion meant sharing court time with tennis players and restriping the adjacent tennis courts at Cub Creek. The tennis players were none too pleased about this development, and protested to make their voices heard.

To cut to the chase, the board decided that the best course at present was to simply not do anything and maintain the status quo with two tennis courts and two pickleball courts.

The meeting also featured updates on ongoing recreational projects in Wilkesboro, something that interests me a great deal because I live right next to the park and exercise quite frequently on its trails.

Andrew Carlton, the town’s director of planning and community development, offered the board a glimpse into the planned development of the eastern end of the park, adjacent to Oakwoods Road. Funding is to come from the N.C. Parks and Recreation Trust Fund, which awards matching grants to local governments for parks and park improvements.

Carlton said phase one of the project would include an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)-compliant playground, construction of which should begin next year. Many aspects of the play area would be modeled after Lebauer City Park in downtown Greensboro.

Lebauer is a beautiful four-acre, $10 million park that opened four years ago. My wife and I had the opportunity to explore Lebauer a couple of years ago when we attended the N.C. Folk Festival, and we were quite impressed.

Wilkesboro is also planning an ADA-approved fishing pier on Cub Creek south of the playground. Carlton said grading on the eastern end of the park should start this year, construction in March 2021 and completion tentatively in November 2021.

Town Manager Ken Noland said the town submitted an application to the Recreational Trails Program for federal grant money. The money would be used to add almost four miles of trails and pump tracks to Cub Creek’s already extensive trail system.

Noland said it’s about a quarter-million-dollar project overall, and the town can use in-kind labor and material to match 25% of the grant money awarded. If all goes as designed, Noland said the expansion would use every bit of recreational space available at Cub Creek.

He said the town would know about the awarding of grant money by October, which would allow the town to start on the trail expansion sometime later this winter.

Jim Horton, a Wilkes County native and Mooresville resident, is designing the expansion for the town. He previously designed and cut in 8.3 miles of trail at Cub Creek and 50-plus miles of single track around the Kerr Scott Reservoir.

Noland shared news about the latest Cub Creek headwater project. It involves rehabilitating an unnamed tributary of Cub Creek running from Cherry Street to Woodland Boulevard and roughly parallel to Main Street, just south of Rose Glen Village Assisted Living and Wilkesboro United Methodist Church.

The rehab work will be funded by a $200,000 state grant the town received in May 2019. The grant will be matched 100% by in-kind labor and materials.

Noland said preliminary planning for the tributary should kick off later this month, and work in earnest should start in early 2021. He called it “a great addition that will allow us to clean up the creek and add value” to the town.

Councilman Russ Ferree said in April, “If we’re ever to be a town of destination, rather than a pass-by town, it would be through these means to be known as a town of parks and recreation” and use the outdoor economy as a new means of fiscal stimulation.

I concur with Ferree and am also thrilled about the concrete recreational steps being taken in Wilkesboro.

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