Rowan County gives Carolina Thread Trail Plan its OK

The South Fork Corridor Paddle Trail in McAdenville is part of the Carolina Thread Trail.
The South Fork Corridor Paddle Trail in McAdenville is part of the Carolina Thread Trail. tsumlin@charlotteobserver.com

After seven years, the Carolina Thread Trail received approval to proceed from the last of the 15 counties it aims to connect with a vast network.

In a contentious meeting on July 6, the Rowan County Board of Commissioners questioned the Thread Trail’s representatives about the additional costs associated with sanitation and safety on the trails.

“Where does that responsibility fall?” county commissioner Craig Pierce asked. “What tax dollars are going to take care of this?”

Randi Gates, who was presenting on behalf of Catawba Lands Conservancy, said each county was responsible for the upkeep of the land around the trails and that money generally came from a county’s parks budget.

The commissioners also raised concerns that the trail would cause eminent domain issues by creating easements through private property. Gates said they opposed eminent domain measures because it could hurt the organization in the rest of the counties that they were operating in.

“The Carolina Thread Trail is a nonprofit organization, so they don’t have the authority to use eminent domain whatsoever,” Gates said. “You guys are the ones who would be able to control something like that.”

This was the fourth time that adopting the plan had come up at a board of commissioners meeting, according to Pierce, who compared the organization to a 5-year-old in a candy store.

“He’s told no, but he keeps bringing it and asking and asking, hoping you will let your guard down and make a mistake,” Pierce said. “And I think this is a mistake.”

The town of Landis starting the planning process for Rowan County in 2013 when it received a grant to develop a master plan to identify Thread Trail corridors. The 10 municipalities in Rowan County, including Gold Hill, have adopted the 108-mile trail plan. The plan would connect downtown Salisbury, the North Carolina Transportation Museum, and Dan Nicholas Park.

The board voted 3-2 to formally adopt the trail’s master plan. Rowan County is the final county in the Thread’s master plan.

“Now all 15 counties in North and South Carolina that were conceived as part of the Thread Trail network have declared their intentions to join this regional trail initiative,” said executive director Tom Okel. “The goal of a 15-county master plan has been realized.”

Currently, the Thread Trail consists of 240 miles that are open to the public and the master plans calls for a total of over 1,500 miles of trail.

The trail is in 11 counties in North Carolina and four counties in South Carolina.

In the near future, the group plans to:

▪ Build a Thread Trail that will cross state lines by connecting Waxhaw to Lancaster, S.C., by a pedestrian bridge, which is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

▪ Will add an addition two more launch points, for a total of five, in the 60-mile paddle trail from Concord to Midland.

▪ Continue to expand the existing trail at Sally’s YMCA in Denver, N.C. by 1.3 miles.

▪ Expand the Hector H. Henry II Greenway to connect upstream to Davidson and Kannapolis and downstream to the Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord.