By Debbie Adams
Members of the Vinton Breakfast Lions Club and the William Byrd High School Terriers Varsity Football Team partnered to clean up the Gladetown Trail on July 14. The trail is part of the Roanoke Valley Greenway system.
Lion Chris McCarty, Head Coach Brad Lutz–also a Breakfast Lion–and Assistant Coach Kim Colls, organized the effort to clean up the trail before football practices begin in late July. They came armed with weed eaters, lawn mowers, and chainsaws. Part of the group started at Woodland Place; the others began at the Craig Avenue Center.
McCarty says the team, Lions Club members, and other volunteers “did weed eating on the wooded part of the trail and picked up debris.” McCarty cut some limbs that had fallen across the trail.
Football players who participated included Cannin Lutz, Lane Shoemaker, Wyatte Bailey, Israel Hairston, John Kiker, Nicholas Toney, Jackson McCoy, Justyn Rozenboom, Caden McReynolds, Lukas Riddle, Titus Beatty, and Ethan Haston.
According to Lion John Berry, the Gladetown Trail is a walking/biking trail about 0.7 miles in length with a natural surface. It is mostly flat at about 165 feet in elevation. The trail is heavily wooded, circling a stormwater management pond. Many wildlife species—birds and mammals–frequent the area. Those who use the trail have reported seeing 56 different bird species along with several species of mammals.
The land was originally part of the Vinyard Farm, owned by Vinton’s founding fathers in the 1700s. The trail started out as a footpath and was turned into a greenway trail by the Pathfinders for Greenways Midweek Crew.
Formerly known as the Gladetown Loop Trail, the pathway came to the town’s attention in October 2005, when community leader Joe Banks asked the Town of Vinton to consider building a trail from the Gladetown community to Niagara Road– not only for recreation and eventual connection to the Wolf Creek Greenway, but also to give residents the option of walking via a shortcut to Lake Drive Shopping Center.
Due to its own limited resources, the town submitted a grant application to the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation in 2007 for funding to complete the part of the proposed trail which is on town-owned property and used for a stormwater management pond, built in the years after the flood of 1985. The construction of the town’s industrial park on Third Street and the Lake Drive Shopping Plaza on Hardy Road had led to some flooding issues in the area. At one time it was estimated that two-thirds of the town’s water drained into the Gladetown section.
When the grant did not receive approval, the town decided to seek assistance from the Pathfinders for the Greenways in building the trail.
When siting the trail in the fall of 2009, town staff discovered that, in order to be out of the wet area, a portion of the remainder of the proposed pathway would have to be built on property owned by Woodland Place.
Town staff met with Tommy Wood and his wife, Karen, then owners of the Woodland Place property, to ask for an easement. Instead of granting an easement, the Woods generously donated a triangular portion of their property to the Town of Vinton for the trail. The trail was completed in 2012.
The Pathfinders for Greenways built not only the trail, but a picturesque wooden bridge across the stream.
The Town of Vinton recently completed a Streambank Restoration Project at the Woodland Place end of the trail with the assistance of grant funding from the VA Dept of Environmental Quality (DEQ) Stormwater Local Assistance Fund (SLAF).