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Planning for the park: Recreational needs survey solicits input for future of Pinnacle Park

Planning for the park: Recreational needs survey solicits input for future of Pinnacle Park

In April, Sylva received the results of an in-depth botanical survey of Pinnacle Park, and now the town is in the process of creating a master plan for the property.

As part of the master planning process, the town is conducting a recreational needs survey to include public input in the final design.

“This is the chance to have your voice heard in planning the future of this unique site,” the survey introduction reads. “Your responses to this survey will guide the decision-making process to create a comprehensive Master Plan for Pinnacle Park and also help the park secure funding for improvements. We want to know about your experiences at the park if you’ve visited before or what you would like to see added to the park to enhance your visiting experience, even if you have not visited yet.”

Pinnacle Park is an almost 1800-acre public park owned and maintained by the Town of Sylva and bordered by other conserved lands. It is made up of the Fisher Creek Tract, placed under a conservation easement in 2007, the Blackrock Tract, which came under a conservation easement in 2019, and the Dills Creek Tract, transferred to the town this year.

In 2021, the Pinnacle Park Foundation released a request for proposals to conduct a botanical survey of the park prior to building any additional trails and amenities. The Asheville-based consulting, planning and design firm Equinox Environmental completed the botanical survey and is now also conducting the master plan.

The results of the botanical survey showed Pinnacle Park contains at least 25 different natural community types, some of which are very specific to certain topographic or elevational areas. The park contains over 19 miles of streams and seeps with excellent water quality and bio classification ratings and several rare species of vascular plants. 

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The master plan, which is estimated to cost $150,000, is being paid for by the Jackson County Tourism Development Authority, Jackson County and the Town of Sylva, each of which have allocated $50,000.

The survey first asks participants about their history visiting and using Pinnacle Park. Then it asks people to rank which activities they would like to see in the park in the future. Choices include activities like hiking, walking, trail running, mountain biking, rock climbing, fishing, camping, horseback riding and educational opportunities. It also asks for input on universal accessibility of the property, amenities and improvements to the park, as well as what might prevent participants from using the park.  

The survey is open to both residents of Sylva and Jackson County, as well as those visiting the county from surrounding areas. It will be open for responses through mid-October. 

“We want to take these survey results and do a recreational survey of citizens that use this park and determine the best path forward and best future for this park and how to preserve it and how to balance preservation of the park with recreational opportunities for people,” Mayor David Nestler said of the botanical survey and recreational needs survey. “It will help us identify what we need to fix in the park and get funding sources for that as well.”

This master plan is distinct from a separate master planning process to sketch out trails and amenities for the Blackrock Tract. In 2021, the town voted to partner with the EBCI on that planning process. Both governments appropriated $20,000 for the effort.

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