Chimney Rock Village gears up for summer

Chimney Rock Village is gearing up for the summer season.  This past Memorial Day weekend saw a lot of visitors and they are still spending on their vacations.  The storm clouds gathered along with the metaphorical storm clouds of the most anticipated recession ever but the tourists are still coming.  I think it will be a good summer.  Stores are stocked, the parking lot is ready, and the new Village Square is already gathering crowds.

We have wider sidewalks in front of Bubba’s General Store.  We have a new, beautiful and wide-open Village Square in the center of the Village.  We have new sections of riverwalk “roughed in”.  The Village is working hard to make our spaces more walkable and more pedestrian friendly.

The Village just received notification that we have received a $300,000 grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission to proceed with project 2 of our streetscape improvement plan.  This money will be combined with Village and TDA funds to complete more of the improvements that Village residents and the Village Council approved several years ago.  Our Village Square was project 1 and it has been a wonderful addition to our Village.

Phase 2 of the Village Streetscape plan will put in wider sidewalks, parallel parking, and streetscape amenities (trash cans, benches, plantings, lighting, etc.) between Gales Gift Shop and Featherheads.  This is directly across from the CR Park entrance.  Also, the second part of this project will be widening the sidewalk from the Public Restrooms across the CR Park entrance and westward to the end of the Village Scoop property. 

As part of this plan the Old Rock wants to create another “plaza” type area in front of their restaurant to better accommodate the thousands of pedestrians who are here on weekends.  This will greatly enhance the center of the Village and provide plenty of room for pedestrians, strollers, wheelchairs, and room for people to spread out and linger and spend more time in the Village.

On the riverwalk project the Village has been working with DOT and the Town of Lake Lure to plan and engineer a pedestrian crossing under the Highway 74 bridge which will tie the Flowering Bridge into the proposed riverwalk as it crosses behind the Riverside Events Center.  This location, across the highway from the Flowering Bridge, is now open as the Lured on the Fly Food Truck and the Sunken Buffalo canoe rental center.

Other sections of the riverwalk have some new sign posts up and more signage is planned as we continue to connect sections between Lake Lure and the Village.  Between the Carter Lodge and the Hickory Nut and then between the Riverside Lodge and the River House are two sections of riverwalk that are “roughed in” with gravel that provides walking access along and views of the river.

There is more excitement and momentum now to complete sections of the riverwalk and the Village continues working to better connect Lake Lure, Chimney Rock Village, and westward to the Esmeralda and Bat Cave.  The Village owns and/or has easements on 12 riverside properties between Lake Lure and Bat Cave.  Some sections, such as the area along the river in the Village center and the trail in the Riverside Park near the Geneva are completed; other sections are roughed in with gravel such as just east of the Carter Lodge and the eastside of the River House, while other sections have no pathway yet.

We continue to look for opportunities to get easements for the riverwalk and connect Lake Lure, Chimney Rock Village, and Bat Cave.  This will not only create a wonderful tourism asset for the Village but our residents will benefit from a beautiful walkway along the river that you can use every day.  What an amenity for dog walking, exercising, or just enjoying the beautiful scenery and tranquility of the Rocky Broad River.  Until you’ve walked along the banks you cannot appreciate the beauty of this river and the Hickory Nut Gorge.

The Village also continues to work on improving our sewer system.  We took over the main line along the river from Rutherford County last year at no cost.  While the line is doing fine now it will require a lot of work over the next 10 years to meet the Village’s current and future needs.  The Village is looking diligently for money through grants, loans, and directly from the state to help us with a major rebuild of the system which would include reinforcing the main line, adding service lines to individual customers, changing the line to the Esmeralda to a gravity line from a forced main, and other improvements.

This will impact your sewer rates but we are working to keep that impact as small as possible.  Unfortunately for small mountain community’s sewer and other utilities are expensive but necessary.

In other news the new owners of the Esmeralda are in the process of planning a major overhaul and rebuild of the Inn and also building vacation rental properties across the covered bridge opposite the Inn.  The Inn will still be open to the public with a bar and restaurant.  It will provide a swimming pool, meeting and game rooms, and other amenities to the people staying on the property.

The old house behind Laura’s house has been torn down and will be replaced with a new house for the on-site manager to live in.  The main building is still in the planning stages for some type of food service/restaurant.

The Best View Motel is still on the market as several people have looked at it but no one has committed to rebuilding and/or developing the property.

The bears are here and according to the NC Wildlife Dept there isn’t much we can do about them except protecting our trash better.  Trash should be put out the morning of pickup if possible and in a bear proof trash can.  Birdfeeders and birdseed are also a huge magnet for bears.  If you have a dumpster it needs to be locked or bearproof because otherwise they can get into it.  If your trash is attacked and spread around, please pick it up.  Look in the woods and within several hundred yards of your property because the bears will drag it off sometimes before tearing into the bags   It is your trash after all.  If the Village has to pick it up we will charge you for it.

The CDA is planning music in the Gathering Place on the evening of July 6 with Vintage Vinyl, a local favorite band.  If you’d like to volunteer to help with the concert, please call April Schick at 321-506-1720.

The CDA is also going to hold several trash pickups throughout the summer.  I encourage everyone to participate in these trash pickups.  You can make a huge difference by helping with a trash pickup for an hour.  The positive feelings you receive from making our Village look better are real and its good exercise and gives you the chance to give something back to our community.  We need your help.

The Village Council meets the third Tuesday of every month at 7:30 pm in the Chimney Rock Volunteer Fire Department building.  Our next meeting is June 20 and we will have a public hearing on the new budget for 23/24 and on some rezoning requests.  Please contact Peter O’Leary 828-545-1243 or Steve Duncan 828-777-5718 if you have any questions.

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