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Nowhere to park?

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Young Korben enjoys the playground equipment

Don't you just hate driving around while looking for that perfect spot to park? You know the one that is just right. It's nice and wide and easily accessible. Well, look no more because Rutherford County is teaming with great parks!

Our infamous Chimney Rock State Park is one of the more recognizable locations in the county. It is unique, beautiful, and a fine example of the wondrous little gems that you find when you're in western North Carolina. Overlooking Lake Lure and the surrounding mountains, Chimney Rock Park offers a magnificent view that cannot be matched or forgotten.

There are also a myriad of other outdoor parks located in Rutherford County. The more well known parks are Crestview Park in Rutherfordton, James F. Crowe Park and Charles R. Summey II, Park in Forest City. All told, there are more than 10 outdoor parks distributed around the county. Each of them have amenities that make it possible for our residents to enjoy a wide variety of outdoor activities including walking, running, tennis, basketball, softball, soccer and baseball, just to name a few. Most of them maintain swings and playground equipment for children to enjoy and you'll likely see colorful balloons at birthday celebrations ongoing in the many covered picnic areas. Others are often occupied by those who are simply looking to get a break from the hustle of their work week to relax and feel the sunshine on their faces.

Seasonally, you'll hear the cracks of little league bats and the cheers of parents as their sons and daughters round the bases for the score. Giggles and laughter from nearby playgrounds will fill the air along with the smell of hot dogs and hamburgers. Walkers are busily moving around the tracks while their fitbits are marking off their steps and the runners are training in earnest for the upcoming 5k's. The flurry of activity from youngsters and seniors alike demonstrate the value of these parks. There really is something for everyone to enjoy.

According to Mr. Doug Barrick, Rutherfordton Town Manager, Crestview Park encompasses some 26 acres of land that was donated to the town in the 1960's by Dr. Ernest Yelton who had originally purchased the property for the site of the elementary school. When the school board chose a different route, Dr. Yelton donated the property to the town with the stipulation that it be developed as a park. Located just off of Hwy. 221, and just minutes from downtown Rutherfordton, the parks amenities include: Purple Marten Greenway Trail with waterfall access, a children's playground, four lighted tennis courts, two lighted outdoor basketball courts, three lighted regulation little league fields, one lighted tee-ball field, one lighted senior league regulation field, a 1/3 mile paved and lighted walking path, four children's play areas with assorted equipment, a concession stand, restrooms, and two covered picnic shelters. Pet friendly, this park is the gateway of the Purple Marten Greenway Trail that starts at the picnic area and crosses Hwy. 221. Upon completion of the greenway, the course will be 3.1 miles in length, exactly what is needed for a 5K race.

Throughout the year you'll find students from Lake Lure Classical Academy, RS Middle and RS Central High schools practicing for baseball, softball and tennis. Rutherfordton Little League and the Rutherford Raiders play there and it is home for the Summer Reading Program. This park is operated and maintained by the town of Rutherfordton.

Just down the road near Forest City is the James F. Crowe Park. This park features covered shelters with cooking grills that are perfect locations for family and group gatherings. Mr. Jody Wright, Director of Parks and Recreation for the town of Forest City tells us that these shelters are so popular that they are almost booked solid until September. Recently renovated restrooms and upgraded fencing make this location ideal for those outdoor parties. Located at the corner of Cherry Mountain Street and Crowe Park Road, this 80 acre site abuts the Second Broad River. With five shelters, two playgrounds and the horseshoe pits, this park is a busy place, especially when the tournaments start.

The Charles R Summey II, Park, located on Vance Street in Forest City, is also maintained and operated by Town of Forest City Parks and Recreation and adds another 71 acres of park access. This is the home of the Rutherford County Relay for Life. Both the Crowe and Summey parks provide facilities for Forest City Little League and Forest City Youth Football programs. Thomas Jefferson Classical Academy, East Middle and East High School students are also found practicing football and soccer at these locations. A windowed tower, vending machines and restrooms, three lighted fields; 1 Little League, 1 Senior League and 1 Softball Field are located here. You'll also find two tee-ball fields, a batting cage, a small picnic shelter and a playground area. Mr. Wright was proud to tell us about the rubberized walking path where he claims "tons of walkers" are found daily.

Whether you are playing ball, pitching horse shoes, or flying a kite, being at the park is always a good experience. The vision and commitment of our community leaders to maintain and improve our parks are contributing to the health and well being of our residents and a vital part of what makes our county so great. It's hard to find anyone that hasn't visited one of our parks at some time.

In Rutherford County, you can always find a great place to Park!

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