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Forsyth County residents resolve to defeat Multi-Use Event Center 

On Tuesday, 20 volunteers from throughout Forsyth County braved the sweltering August heat to organize opposition to the county’s proposed Multi-Use Event Center in Tanglewood Park under the “Save Tanglewood” banner. The assembled volunteers unanimously resolved to oppose the siting of an events center anywhere within the confines of Tanglewood Park.

“Another 15 volunteers have stepped forward over the last couple weeks, and I hear from more people every day that want to help,” said Charles Sherrill, spokesperson for Save Tanglewood. “People from other counties are coming forward as well. Tanglewood has always been a regional resource that attracts people from throughout the Piedmont. We launched an online petition, Against Tanglewood Events Center, about three weeks ago on ipetition.com and it has garnered over 1,400 signatures so far.”

Tuesday’s volunteer assembly planned objectives and activities for the next 90 days of opposition. Every resolution put before the assembly passed on a unanimous voice vote. “We are united and we are determined,” Sherrill said.

Forsyth County proposes to construct a 50,000-square-foot multi-use building between the existing barns at Tanglewood Park and Shelter No. 2 above the riding rings at a cost of $5 million. According to the county, this building will accommodate events ranging from equestrian competitions to tractor pulls and mixed martial arts fights and will be supplemented by barns containing stables for 200 horses, paved parking for over 200 cars, and additional paved parking for trucks towing horse trailers.

After community outcry prompted the county commissioners to cancel a planned vote to appropriate $500,000 to the design phase, 250 people attended two contentious community meetings at the Tanglewood Red Barn and the Forsyth County Government Center in Winston-Salem to speak out against the project.

“Tanglewood Park is the crown jewel of the county park system; indeed, the crown jewel of parks throughout the region,” Sherrill said. “The county’s events center will urbanize the very heart of Tanglewood Park, and it is outrageous that they are even considering such a project. Not only is it an affront to this natural, cultural and historic treasure, it’s a terrible deal for Forsyth County taxpayers. The county estimated construction would cost $5 million back in 2016 and they are proposing to proceed with this project in the face of accelerating inflation and nationwide labor shortages. By their own admission, the events center is likely to run operating deficits in perpetuity and would need to host 50 events a year to have a shot at breaking even.”

Sherrill continued, “if you look at where other major agricultural event centers are located in North Carolina, they are exclusively in urban or rural areas adjacent to airports, sports arenas and fairgrounds, and open farmland. It makes no sense to place such a facility on precious and limited park land in a suburban community. Especially not park land with the natural, cultural, and historic significance of Tanglewood Park.”

Tanglewood Park consists of 1,100 acres on the Yadkin River on what was once the colonial frontier of North Carolina. William Johnson settled the land in the 1750s and constructed a fort atop a prominence within the tract to guard the area during the French and Indian War. In 1921, William Neal Reynolds, brother of Tobacco magnate R.J. Reynolds, purchased the tract from the Johnson family. Reynolds and his wife Kate, having no children, willed the estate to the residents of Forsyth County so that “others could benefit from the beauty, elegance, history, and recreation their country estate had to offer.”

In the spirit of communities on the colonial frontier, present day residents of Forsyth County have banded together under the Save Tanglewood banner. “We will oppose this project with every lawful means at our disposal; for as long as it takes,” said Sherrill.

Friends of Tanglewood Park throughout the region are invited join in to defend the park at www.TanglewoodEventsCenter.com.