One of the "signature projects" in the town of Mineral Springs is our greenway, a network of - so far - approximately three miles of natural-surface trails on 65 acres of conserved property.

As part of the "Conservation by Design" theme of Mineral Springs, our greenway is a singular accomplishment, one that I brought with me as just a dream at the very founding of the town in 1999, and that your town council has turned into a reality over the course of the past ten years.

The Mineral Springs Greenway has its main trailhead on McNeely Road, and the trails that make up the greenway follow the Wolf and Bates Branches behind the Harrington Hall and Copper Run subdivisions. The first "piece of the puzzle" was approximately 7.5 acres of floodplain that was donated to the town by the original developers of the Harrington Hall subdivision in 2005.

Over time, your town council was able to add to this first small piece of beautiful wooded creekfront property. The town bought an additional 3.5 acres with a spring from Harrington Hall. The original developer of the Copper Run subdivision on Pleasant Grove Road donated another 45 acres of property adjoining the creeks, and in 2007 the town - in cooperation with the Catawba Lands Conservancy - applied for a $300,000 grant from the North Carolina Clean Water Management Trust Fund to purchase an additional 12 acres of sloping, densely-wooded land adjoining the floodplain.

Meanwhile, volunteers from various trail user groups began to re-connect several miles of old equestrian trails that had developed over the past 25 years and had fallen into disuse as subdivisions developed where the original trails used to be.

In addition to hundreds of hours of volunteer work, the town was fortunate to have partnered with seven boy scouts from four different troops - including four from the Mineral Springs United Methodist Troop 18 - on Eagle Scout projects. I was proud to have served as the Eagle Project Coordinator on all of these projects. These young men of the community joined forces with their fellow scouts, their leaders, and their parents to construct everything from trail access points to bridges to benches and picnic tables to the stone base of our parking lot sign pictured above.

This sort of community involvement is yet another example of how our greenway affects a broad range of people in a positive way: these scouts had the opportunity to earn scouting's highest honor, while the town and its citizens benefited from the excellent work the scouts accomplished.

Launched in 2007, the Carolina Thread Trail is a planned network of nearly 1,400 miles of trails, walkways, "blueways", and even sidewalk interconnections spanning 15 counties in both North and South Carolina. A total of 76 local governments in the region have participated in master plans, and as of mid-2013 a total of 119 miles of the Thread are open and being enjoyed by visitors.

I am proud to say that the 2-mile main section of the Mineral Springs Greenway was the first Carolina Thread Trail segment in Union County that is complete and open to the public.

On October 20, 2012, the Mineral Springs Greenway was dedicated as an official Carolina Thread Trail segment. Pictured at left are Councilwoman Melody LaMonica, Catawba Lands Conservancy Development Director Margaret Brantley, Mayor Rick Becker, and Councilwoman Janet Critz.

In 2014, your town council purchased an additional 1.75 acres of land near the trailhead, and in 2016 they added enhanced handicapped parking, 260 feet of paved fully accessible walkways, and four picnic tables in this new accessible area that was created on part of that 1.75-acre purchase.

The Mineral Springs Greenway has already been enjoyed by thousands of members of our community from every walk of life, and I am proud to have been instrumental in creating this beautiful conservation project and outdoor recreation facility.