Fort Mill Rotary Club members gathered at the Anne Springs Close Greenway last week to have their annual meeting, including swearing in new board members and officers. But there was more on the agenda — celebrating a long-time partnership with the nature preserve.
In 2014, the Rotary Club pledged a five-year $100,000 donation to the Greenway, which in part has been used to build a new amphitheater that is attracting over 1,000 people to summer concert series performances and other improvements to the 2,100-acre preserve.
“When you build a brand new space where you will be bringing a lot of people to, some of the things logistically that you have to do is get them there safely from the parking lot to the theater,” said Denise Cubbedge, director of development at the Greenway.
“To do that, we put in this brand new trail that we named Rotary Way. With their donation, we were able to make those improvements and add lighting to help people get there safely. It was also a great opportunity to recognize a long-standing partnership. The Rotary has been a partner with the Greenway since it began in 1995.”
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Local attorney and former Rotary Club President Brian Wilson said the club has one more year left on its commitment. This year they raised $16,000, mostly from an annual auction.
“We decided when there was a capital campaign for improvements to this wonderful piece of property that we wanted to be a part of that,” said Wilson, who served a one-year term as club president beginning in 2011.
“As Rotarians, we believe ourselves to be the leaders and business leaders of this community. One of the ways we could lead is with our time and with our treasure. It’s a service club, and this is a way to give some service money as well as our time.”
The newly dedicated Rotary Way features a series of boulders lining the trail that speak to the organization’s core values: “Truth, fair to all concerned, building goodwill and fellowship and being beneficial to all who are concerned.”
On June 3, the Greenway opened a new 4.5-mile stretch of trails, bringing the total to over 40 miles of usable trail space, up from 20 when it opened. There are still some needs, though, Cubbedge said. The Greenway spends about $1 per foot on trail maintenance during the year, and that isn’t including re-routing or building new trails.
Wilson said a preserve like the Greenway is important to a high-growth area like Fort Mill.
“This is a jewel in our community,” he said.
“Charlotte has sprawled into Fort Mill. What we have now is mass-density high-rise apartments and houses clustered together with everyone on top of each other and then we have this oasis. It’s (2,100) acres of God’s beauty right here for us to revel and rejoice in. It’s here now, it will be here 100 years from now and it’s fantastic. It’s just cool and we’re happy to be a part of it.”