Polk closes on Alexander’s Ford property

Published 10:03 am Monday, June 20, 2011

Nature preserve park could be open next summer
Polk County officially owns Alexander’s Ford at Bradley Nature Preserve, thanks to grants and the Bradley Fund, which held the property for the past five years.
The closing occurred last week on the 163-acre property, which  will be used as a nature preserve.

Map showing the approximate location of Alexander’s Ford.

In 2006, the board of the Marjorie M. and Lawrence R. Bradley Endowment Fund through the Polk County Community Foundation committed to preserving the historic property by purchasing land from Tryon Arts and Crafts and establishing conservation easements.
Polk County in the meantime sought grants to make the $830,000 purchase using no county funding.
“The purchase of the Alexander’s Ford property is a great event for the citizens of Polk County,” said Polk County’s Alexander’s Ford Project Manager Ambrose Mills. “We are grateful for the generosity of Marjorie M. and Lawrence Bradley. The nature preserve which will bear their names will truly be ‘a benefit for generations to come’ as they desired. The diligence and wisdoms of the boards of their foundation and the Polk County Community Foundation have made this possible.”
The county park is not yet open to the public. Polk County Manager Ryan Whitson said improvements must be made to the property to make it accessible and usable as a park. Whitson said under the state grant requirements, the county will have about a year to make those improvements. Hopefully, Whitson said, the park will be available for public use sometime next summer.
The property was described last year by Tom Fanslow, land protection director of Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy, as a “botanical garden.”
County commissioners approved a budget ordinance last year of $1,419,500 for the project.
The county obtained funding through several grant sources, including the N.C. Clean Water Management Trust Fund, the N.C. Natural Heritage Trust Fund and the N.C. Parks and Recreation Trust Fund.
Polk County’s vision for the property is to create a nature preserve that will be low maintenance and low cost to the county.
The land is situated along almost a mile of the Green River and includes part of the Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail, which follows the route of assembly of the American Patriot Army, which decisively defeated an American Loyalist army at the battle of Kings Mountain, S.C., in the fall of 1780. The land is also thought to be at least a transit route for native Americans.
“The Bradley board is delighted that a land so ecologically rich and steeped in history will remain unspoiled for generations of residents to enjoy,” states a Polk County Community Foundation press release. “Located along the Green River in Mill Spring, the property has impressed environmental surveyors with its botanical diversity, including several rare plant species and identification of significant natural heritage areas. The site also boasts exceptionally high water quality.”
Improvements to the property include picnic facilities, informational boards, trails and a parking area.
“The final purchase represents years of coordination between Polk County and the community foundation,” said the Polk County Community Foundation release. “The county and its partners successfully raised enough funds through grants and local contributions that zero county dollars were needed for the purchase. Meanwhile, the foundation confirmed that the property would be permanently protected after the sale through comprehensive conservation easements and deed restrictions. “
Maps of the Overmountain Victory Trail, including information about Alexander’s Ford, are available at the community foundation, located at 255 South Trade Street in Tryon.

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