By David Rogers. April 16, 2018. BLOWING ROCK, NC — An unseasonably cold, even snowy day didn’t dampen the warm spirits of some two dozen civic and business leaders on Monday. They braved the elements for a ceremonial groundbreaking focused on the Mayview Plaza project on Laurel Lane that has been some 18 months in the making.
All photographic images by David Rogers for Blowing Rock News
Mayor Charlie Sellers greeted the witnesses and celebrants, which included representatives of the four Blowing Rock attraction icons to be featured in the new plaza: Appalachian Ski Mountain, The Blowing Rock, Tweetsie Railroad, and the Blowing Rock Charity Horse Show.
“I can’t think of a better way to showcase Blowing Rock’s key attractions,”noted Jim Pitts, the immediate past chairman of the Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce and General Manager of Blue Ridge Mountain Club, “than at an intersection in the center of town and right in the heart of the village.
“This project is really rather simple,” Pitts continued, “but with a lot of complexity. We are effectively just doing a streetscape enhancement project. But that streetscape enhancement project means that we are going to pull away this asphalt and replace it with very nice concrete pavers. We’re going to build some walls with additional landscaping, then add some monuments that feature the four attractions that are important to this town. When finished, it will be a really nice public park.”
Pitts acknowledged that two organizations have been central to the planning and execution of the project, including the Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce and the Chamber’s Economic Development Council, as well as the Blowing Rock Village Foundation.
“After 18 months since the planning began,” Pitts concluded, “to see the construction crew on site today is a testament to perseverance and a lot of hard work, as well as a lot of work by a lot of people.”
Pitts noted that the project would take about six weeks to do the work, with a goal to have everything completed by Memorial Day.
Jim Clabough, chairman of the Blowing Rock Village Foundation observed, “The Village Foundation has been around for about five years now and we have completed a number of small projects, but this is the biggest project so far. It is thanks to a lot of people. Some 40 families have contributed directly to this project and over 200 members of the Chamber of Commerce have contributed. As you know, we have also had the Blowing Rock Star program going for a couple of years, and more than 350 families have contributed through that program. Because of that participation by so many, all from this village, is why we are able to give back and do a project like this.”
Retired attorney and founder of the Village Foundation, John Aldridge, acknowledged some specific individuals who were key to the project getting off the ground. Among the most noteworthy were George and Linda Gilleland, who were the last owners of Mayview Manor property and gifted the land on which the plaza is being built to the Town of Blowing Rock. Aldridge also pointed to the cooperation of Town officials, including the Town Council in permitting the project.
“I am going to allocate the (golden) shovels,” Aldridge told the crowd just before directing everyone to a construction bed. “We have three shovels. One for the attractions, one for the Chamber of Commerce and its Economic Development Council, and one for the Village Foundation. This is exactly the sort of project that the Village Foundation was created to fund. I hope this is the first of many projects…The idea is that these are projects that the Town can’t normally do because of a lack of funding or they aren’t necessarily a high enough priority. This shows what we can do if we have a good idea, all come together, and all give just a little bit, there are a lot of things we can do for Blowing Rock.”