More than 281,000 people visited the Anne Springs Close Greenway in 2017, to hike and bike its 40 miles of trails, participate in its nature-focused programs and attend its special events.
On Tuesday, the Greenway announced plans for a new 6,300-square foot welcome center at the Greenway’s Lake Haigler entrance off U.S. 21. Greenway board chair Jan Martin said the new welcome center will provide a front door and focal point for the Greenway.
“It will be a place where members and visitors can meet to learn all about the Greenway and how they can get the most enjoyment out of their time spent in nature on our beautiful 2,100 acres of preserved land,” she said.
With an estimated cost of $4 million, the project will mostly be funded from donations made during the Greenway’s Nature Needs You campaign conducted in 2012. The Greenway also announced its second annual Love the Greenway Month, an awareness and fundraising campaign.
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“A key goal of our annual Love the Greenway campaign is to make the Greenway financially self-sustaining by our 25th anniversary in 2020,” Greenway director of development Denise Cubbedge said.
“We’re reaching out to everyone in Fort Mill and the surrounding community to seek their involvement in and support of the Greenway in order to protect and preserve this treasured asset for future generations.”
An outdoor recreation festival, Blue Star Blitz will feature 5k and 10k trail races, short track mountain bike racing and a geocaching contest. Race participants and spectators can enjoy live music through the afternoon as well as the Blitz Biergarten from 11 a.m.-3 p.m.
The Greenway’s annual Earth Day Celebration will begin at 11 a.m. with an opening ceremony at the Dairy Barn followed by activities such as border collie demonstrations, cane pole fishing, canoeing and kayaking. The event is free and open to the public.
Sitting by a swinging bridge, not far from a swimming hole she used to swim in as a child, the Greenway’s namesake, Anne Springs Close, said the nature preserve and recreational park has grown far beyond what she had ever imagined.
“I could see what was coming,” she said.
“Charlotte was bursting at the seams and pushing out in all directions. Also, farmland in this area was disappearing at a greater rate than anywhere in the state and I wanted to see some farmland protected...and I hated to see all that disappear and get cut down and paved over.”
Originally, she saw the Greenway as an amenity for the residents of Fort Mill – for their children and grandchildren to enjoy. She had no idea it would impact so many people.
Greenway President Tim Patterson said the preserve is important not just to Fort Mill, but to the entire Charlotte region.
“We all know that the growth that we’ve been experiencing in this area and the loss of green space – and the loss of activities and joy that people can find in the outdoors that goes along with that,” he said. “So, we anchor the south end of Charlotte and the north end of York County with a significant green space with lots of activities and the ability for people to get out and enjoy nature.”
Stephanie Jadrnicek: firstname.lastname@example.org