Friday, October 23, 2009

Put your best foot forward at Carrier Park!

Asheville’s beloved Mountain Xpress readers have voted, and Carrier Park was voted number one for THE BEST PLACE TO WALK/RUN! The Ole’ Xpress had some lovely things to say about Carrier Park; “one of Asheville's hidden gems, where the whole family can relax and have fun. The park features easy walking/biking trails, the "mellow" drome (the old racetrack), picnic shelters, a cool playground and even shuffleboard.”
I will go over a brief history of Carrier Park (with the help of RiverLink's Executive Director, Karen Cragnolin), from speedway to greenway, followed by a play by play way to spend your day at Carrier Park (there is so much to do!)

It was just 10 years ago in October 1999 when RiverLink bought the old Asheville Motor Speedway, and in those ten short years the old speedway has transformed into the most used recreational facility in the entire region and is now known and loved as Carrier Park. It is 50 acres of sheer fun and a critical link in the Wilma Dykeman RiverWay. NC DOT has funded a trail which we encourage you to use from Carrier Park to Hominy Creek Park. Now we have four miles of greenway as part of the Wilma Dykeman RiverWay.

RiverLink bought the old EDACO junkyard, which is next to Carrier Park in 2006 and renamed it Karen Cragnolin Park, after our amazing Executive Director. RiverLink worked with DH Griffin and recycled 100,000 tons of concrete that covered the junk yard. RiverLink was just awarded $300,000 in stimulus funds to clean up the oil, grease, diesel fuels left over from being an auto junk yard for 50 years. RiverLink is going to be the first in the region to utilize a Brownfield for Open Space and the first in the region to do a Brownfield using phytoremediation. What is phytoremediation, you ask? It is plants. Yes, plants can clean up a contaminated site! RiverLink will use this site as a demonstration site to demonstrate how to clean up junkyards. Unfortunately, junkyards in Asheville are all along the river corridor - and as land uses change in the Wilma Dykeman RiverWay phytoremediation may be the least expensive way to clean up the all the oil, gas and diesel fuels that are left and contaminate the soil!

So, If you are looking for something to do, then head out to Carrier Park and fill your day with fun underneath the sun or shade (depending on the way of the day…). Mellow out with a walk around the “mellow” drome, or if you are feeling frisky, lace up the old roller skates and pretend you’re hand and hand with your old high school sweet heart with Luther Vandross swinging sweetly in the background. Once you’ve had a skate down memory lane, head over the basketball courts and play a game of pick up (no shirts v. skins, please.) After you are done pretending to be Michael Jordan in his glory days, head out to one of the picnic tables and enjoy that nice North Carolina juicy apple that you packed for a picnic. Picnic tables are scattered throughout the park. Carrier Park also has a large picnic shelter for your enjoyment!

What next you ask? If you’re feeling up to it, head over to the playground and have a good swing; feel the wind at your back and the observe the clouds in your horizon. If you have any friskiness left in you, head down the slide, or take an airplane ride (stationary, but hey we all have a bit of imagination churning through us!) Still going strong? How about a game of sand volleyball, or doing a little shuffle on the shuffleboard. Perhaps you could stretch out those fingers for some bowling; lawn bowling that is (also known as bocce ball over in Italy, Prego!)

Once you have worked up a sweat, head out for a stroll along the many nature trails the park offers. Stop for a breathtaking view of the French Broad River, and breathtaking it is; it literally took my breath away the other day. I found a hidden spot high on the bank where I sat down to ponder the day and let the river wash my worries away. The river seemed to calm me as I sat and admired all the vibrant leaves floating freely down the Ole Broad. The fall colors reflecting on the river is true beauty to the eye. If you are a picture person, this is the perfect time of year to start snapping away. The sights are truly inspirational!

Carrier Park is a park for everyone’s enjoyment, for it seems to bring out the youth in all of us. The park brings together generations young and young at heart to enjoy their day; follow the youthful advice lining the fence of the playground.

“Go for it”

Basically, Carrier Park was made with fun in mind. No wonder the Mountain Xpress readers voted it the best place to walk/run because when you are at Carrier Park; you feel at your best. So go ahead and put your best foot forward and enjoy the ever-inspiring Carrier Park!

Kyle E. Wolff
AmeriCorps member
RiverLink’s newbie to the blogosphere

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