Extension of city trail proposed near uptown

June 26, 2011

By GINNY WRAY - Bulletin Staff Writer

Plans are in the works to construct a trail head and about 1,230 feet of new trail to connect the Dick & Willie Passage and spur trail to East Church Street in Martinsville.

If approved, the new 1⁄4-mile of trail would start west of the Pine Street access point on the city spur trail near the Dick & Willie Passage in Martinsville. It would go through a wooded area and end at a new trail head and paved parking area near the East Church⁄Church Extension⁄Oakdale intersection, according to a presentation prepared for Martinsville City Council’s meeting on Tuesday.

The extension would provide access to the YMCA, J. Frank Wilson Park, the Virginia Museum of Natural History, Patrick Henry Elementary School and Piedmont Arts, council papers state.

At Tuesday’s meeting, the council will get an update on the project and consider authorizing City Attorney Eric Monday to proceed with acquiring property and⁄or obtaining easements for the extension, according to the council agenda.

The property proposed to be sought for the trail head and parking is a lot in the 500 block of Church Street, next to the We Care building. The property owner, Peter Martin Stolbun, has been a fugitive since 2000, and the city is owed about $12,000 in taxes on the property, Monday said.

If the city acquires the property, it would be asked to donate the site and back taxes to the project, according to council papers.

Activate MHC has grant funds from the Harvest Foundation for the trail project, according to Gary Cody, the city’s director of parks and recreation. He and Cari Zimmer of Activate will present the proposal to city council.

Cody added that no city money would be spent on construction of the trail.

Council papers state that the total cost would be $95,000, including $40,000 to build the paved trail, $11,000 for a pedestrian crosswalk with flashing lights and $10,000 for the parking lot. The rest of the money would be used for decorative iron leaves and interpretive signs, a gazebo and landscaping on the YMCA land with an informational kiosk, bronze sculptures, benches, a natural stacked rock bridge over a stream and plantings.

The iron leaves, benches and other items would be designed to match others along the passage. The leaves would be created by Ed Dolinger, who made the iron leaves on the spur trail.

A former Martinsville resident has been identified as a possible artisan to make eight to 10 small sculptures, such as a bird, frog and grasshopper, for children to locate and identify along the trail, council papers state. The papers did not name that resident.

Grass and landscaping would include the addition of native trees and perennial flowers along the trail, such as Virginia Bluebells, Woodland daffodils, astilbe, Maidenhair ferns, Bleeding Heart, Japanese anemone, foxglove, Epididium, dogwood and redbud trees and others, council papers state.

Points of interest already identified along the proposed wooded route, according to council papers, include:

• A rare tree called a Carolina Silverbell,

• An unusually large beech tree that had a heart carved into the bark years ago,

• A small stream to cross,

• Natural decay of wood with associated mosses and lichen, and

• Natural woodland ferns and wild flowers.

City council will meet at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Martinsville Municipal Building.


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