Tuesday afternoon, ground was broken for the next phase in the Catawba River greenway.

For years, officials with McDowell County have planned to build the third section of the riverside park following the city of Marion’s work on the Joseph McDowell Historical Catawba Greenway. The county’s section of the greenway will be located along Old Greenlee Road between Marion and the Pleasant Gardens community. The third phase will feature approximately 2,600 feet of paved greenway, the county’s first dog park, horseshoe pit courts, canoe launches and more.

“The county is working with the McDowell Trails Association and the city of Marion to establish a greenway link between this property and the existing greenway in the near future,” reads McDowell County’s Website.

Under a beautiful May sky on Tuesday, local officials gathered at the site for a ground-breaking ceremony. Commission Chairman David Walker, Commissioner Brenda Vaughn and County Manager Ashley Wooten were there to represent McDowell County. Mayor Steve Little, Councilwoman Ann Harkey, Councilman Woody Ayers and City Manager Bob Boyette represented the city of Marion, which is a major partner in this effort. Another important partner is the McDowell Trails Association and MTA President Steve Pierce, former President Frank Dean and several board members from the association took part in the ceremony.

Walker welcomed everyone to the event and said the trail projects in McDowell County could not be accomplished without these partnerships. He said the city of Marion and the Trails Association were integral in helping McDowell County with the development of this phase.

Walker also recognized project contractor Baker Grading and the engineering consulting firm of McGill Associates. Funding for this project comes from McDowell County, the city of Marion, the MTA, the N.C. Parks and Recreation Trust Fund, and the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality, Division of Water Resources, according to Wooten.

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