Charlotte Observer Jan. 8, 2006

State offers to pay for makeover of Rocky River near schools site

Proposal would enrich planned nature trail

by KATHRYN THIER - kthier@charlotteobserver.com

State officials are offering to improve and shore up a stretch of river
on land the Mooresville Graded School District intends to use for three
schools.
The district had already planned a nature trail at its "Educational
Village" site, and any stream improvement would improve that project,
said Superintendent Bruce Boyles.
The N.C. Ecosystem Enhancement Program is asking the school board for an
easement so it can restore the stretch and then protect it with
conservation easement that will protect it from development. The board
is considering the offer, which Boyles said he is hopeful will be accepted.
"It will just make our site so much more valuable," he said. "It's a
neat project. I think it will be one that will benefit us and also
benefit the environment around it too."
The state would spend about $400,000 to restore 3,430 feet of Rocky
River. That includes restoring the stream's natural curves, reducing the
slope of its banks, improving water quality and planting vegetative
buffers to reduce pollution and erosion.
That work would impact water quality for an approximately 49-square-mile
area around the site, throughout the Upper Rocky River watershed, said
Melonie Allen, the project manager with the state ecosystem enhancement
group.
The stream shows evidence of poor water quality, an impaired aquatic
habitat and erosion, she said.
Having stronger banks along the river would also help protect the
stability of water and sewer lines about to be installed at the
Educational Village site, she said.
The site is 100 acres bounded by Coddle Creek, Kistler Farm and Rocky
River roads and includes the current Mooresville Intermediate School.
District plans call for converting the intermediate school into a middle
school and building new intermediate and elementary schools on the property.
Students at those three schools could use the repaired stream and a
future nature trail for environmental science education, Boyles said.
Community members would also be able to use the nature trail for
recreation, he said.
The district already has nature trails at several schools: Park View
Elementary, South Elementary and Mooresville Intermediate, and one
planned for East Mooresville Intermediate.
If the school board approves the easement, it will take the state about
a year before it's ready to start construction. The stream restoration
would be completed in about two months, Allen said.