Last summer, more than 2,100 people signed our petition asking Mecklenburg’s County Commissioners to fund 13 parks and greenways projects that had been approved by voters in 2008 but remain unbuilt 10 years later. Thanks to everyone who added their voice, the Commissioners heard and responded by voting to commit $49 Million over the next five years to plan and fund those projects!
Photo credit: Greenways for Mecklenburg
Today we’re excited to tell you more about an exciting initiative to keep Mecklenburg County’s greenway network moving forward. Sustain Charlotte has joined Greenways for Mecklenburg and several other organizations in asking the County Commission to complete a 150-mile greenway network by 2030, and a 200-mile network by 2035!
Sustain Charlotte’s Program Director Meg Fencil was interviewed about the role of greenways. Check out WSOC’s coverage.
Greenways for Mecklenburg introduced this initiative at their Greenway Summit last week. Here are the details:
A connected Mecklenburg County greenway network would have a significant, positive impact on the economic development, transportation options, and health and welfare of the citizens of Mecklenburg County.
A 2016 survey of Mecklenburg County citizens revealed 76% of all households listed paved walking and biking trails as the number one request for parks and recreation facilities.
A firm plan to complete a county-wide greenway network would also make Charlotte and Mecklenburg County competitive in attracting business. During the recent #CLTisPrime efforts, our position would have been significantly enhanced by plans for a 200-mile connected greenway linking municipal bike/ped friendly transportation networks around the county.
Many communities on the final Amazon list feature a greenway network significantly more substantial than Mecklenburg County. Raleigh is on the final list - a city that features a connected greenway system twice the size of what exists in Charlotte - over a hundred continuous miles that link Raleigh’s historic Capital Area Greenway System to the Cross-Triangle Trail.
Return on investment on the Little Sugar Creek section of the #XCLT trail greenway has been measured at 10 to 1. See www.landdesign.com/project/lscg/
For example, the @AtlantaBeltLine – generated an 8:1 return on investment in the first ten years of the project, with $3.7 billion in private funds from $447 million of public and private investment for a 22-mile greenway trail around metro Atlanta.
The Atlanta Beltline project also has mission a to create 5,600 affordable housing units near urban trails. This could be an example for Mecklenburg public private partnerships in land acquisition that include affordable housing to stabilize rapidly changing neighborhoods in the county.
The 1980 Charlotte Mecklenburg greenway plan called for 79 miles of greenways. The 2008 master plan called for 129 miles by 2018. Mecklenburg County currently has 47 miles of existing greenway.
Construction, under the current budget levels and budget structure, proceeds at a slow pace of only 3-4 miles per year. For instance, under the current budget structure, there are projects broken out of the 2008 greenway bond package, that was previously scheduled to be completed by 2018, but that will not even begin planning until 2023.
Under the current pace of construction, a connected greenway network would not be completed for more than forty (40) to fifty (50) years.
Greenway construction in Mecklenburg County should be viewed as a comprehensive, single project that includes land acquisition, planning, and construction.
Greenways for Mecklenburg advises and requests that the Mecklenburg County Board of County Commissioners take appropriate actions to complete 150 miles of a connected greenway network to be constructed by 2030 - and an entire 200-mile system by 2035.
Greenways for Mecklenburg recommends the following be observed in executing these goals:
- Structure financing for greenway projects as a solitary project, with annual greenway funding available to any stage of any portion of the network throughout the county with an immediate goal of completing 9-10 miles of greenways per year.
- Ensure adequate staff exists in Parks and Recreation, Land Acquisition, and county Asset & Facilities management to accomplish this goal.
- Ensure that 20-25 miles of greenway always be in design or construction.
- Partner with the City of Charlotte for a Cross Charlotte greenway trail #XCLT.
- Partner with all municipalities in the county to coordinate this network with future municipal trails and pedestrian and bike transportation routes.
- Ensure the citizens of Mecklenburg County have an adequate opportunity to provide input on future greenway plans.
- Ensure other necessary Parks and Recreation services and land acquisition be funded. A vibrant parks system – in addition to the greenway network - is essential to the future of Mecklenburg County.
Many organizations and citizens have expressed support for a 200-mile connected greenway system by 2035 in Mecklenburg County with an immediate goal of completing 9-10 miles of greenways per year.
Some of these include: