Plans for Belews Park AnnouncedMar 14, 2018
Plans for Belews Park Announced
Duke Energy officials along with Rockingham Community College President Dr. Mark Kinlaw, and Rockingham County Commissioner Mark Richardson announced a generous gift of land to Rockingham County as part of a plan to enhance the Duke Energy TRAILS program at Rockingham Community College.
The donated property is located in southwestern Rockingham County near Belews Lake. The approximately 100-acre parcel will be home to a passive park for use by the public and will serve as a laboratory for the students enrolled in the Duke Energy TRAILS.
“We are excited about the potential this land holds for public enjoyment as a park and as an educational canvas for Duke Energy TRAILS at Rockingham Community College,” said Dr. Mark Kinlaw, RCC President. “Last April, the college formally announced the generous donation of $700,000 from Duke Energy to create a new hands-on outdoor skills program, Duke Energy Trails.”
“Since that time, more than 1300 contact hours for outdoor extension sustainable trails skills classes have been taught, and students from North Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee, South Carolina and even Puerto Rico and Brazil have enrolled in our courses. Today, the college is in the curriculum planning and development phase to establish an Associate in Applied Science degree that we believe will be one of the first of its kind in the United States.”
“Education and environmental stewardship are two critical focus areas for Duke Energy,” said Mike Hughes, Vice President, North Carolina Government and Community Affairs, Duke Energy. “We are excited that our land donation to Rockingham County will bring these elements together and provide hands-on learning for the TRAILS program at Rockingham Community College.”
College officials have been working in partnership with Rockingham County Government and members of an advisory committee to develop a site-specific master plan through a series of community meetings held this winter. The Rockingham County Board of Commissioners approved a $43,000 development agreement with obs Landscape Architects of Raleigh to develop the master plan. Funding for the development of this master plan development came from a NC legislative appropriation.
“We believe that if you are in Rockingham County ‘You are in a Good Place’,” said Rockingham County Commissioner Mark Richardson. “The addition of this asset, due to the generosity of Duke Energy, will make us a better place!”
“The economic development model has changed over recent years. Quality of life issues have increased in priority. The environment is more rigorously protected and citizens spend more of their free time in outside recreation. Belews Park will serve our citizens in a general sense while providing RCC a vital tool in preparing TRAILS students for a rewarding career.”
The proposed park will include natural surface mountain bike trails and hiking trails, a paved trail, tree-top canopy walk, adventure playground, multiple overlooks, open spaces for disc golf and a dog park, picnicking areas, restrooms, shelters, and parking for guests.
RCC is providing support to Rockingham County in their submission of a Parks and Recreation Trust Fund (PARTF) grant application that will leverage the approximately $360,000 value of the property and fund initial development of the park.
The Belews Park Master Plan Advisory Committee includes the following: Mark Richardson, Rockingham County Board of Commissioners; Tonya Caddle, Rockingham County Planning and Inspections; Dr. Tony Gunn, Associate Vice President of Facilities and External Affairs at RCC; Mara Apple O’Neil, Director of Occupational Extension at RCC; Tim Johnson, Director Duke Energy TRAILS at RCC; Kelly Larkins, Piedmont Triad Regional Council; Palmer McIntyre, Piedmont Land Conservancy; Kayla Kohlman, Piedmont Triad Regional Council/Piedmont Land Conservancy Americorp Intern; Deirdre Moyer, Rockingham County Schools; Joseph Peele, Rockingham County Catalyst Coordinator; Jenny Edwards, Dan River Basin Association; Fred Thompson, City of Reidsville Parks and Recreation; Keith Martin, Mayo River State Park; Cindy Adams, Eden Rivers and Trails/City of Eden Coordinator of Tourism and Special Events; Julie Glandt, West Rock Rivers and Trails; Kitty Williams, West Rock Rivers and Trails; Kathy White, resident of Belews Landing; Danny Booker, community member; Wayne Kirkpatrick, Dan River Implementation Team member.