Sunday, July 14, 2024

Wilmington endorses greenway plan

The guide to developing a countywide greenway received the green light Tuesday with approval from Wilmington City Council.

It was the last local-government endorsement needed for the plan, which is scheduled to go before the metro area’s policy committee for a final nod later this month.

The Wilmington/New Hanover Comprehensive Greenway Plan serves as the blueprint for a future network of corridors–most containing paved bike-and-pedestrian paths–around the county. With connectivity the key, the paths would lace through each of the county’s municipalities and popular stops like parks, schools, libraries, shopping centers and neighborhoods.

Currently the project has no solid cost estimate as planning remains and full implementation would spread over 20-30 years. Wilmington’s existing Gary Shell Cross-City Trail, the bike and walking path visiting parks and other stops around the city, is one component of the overall greenway network.

Graphic from the greenway plan claiming the various benefits greenway networks offer communities. Click to enlarge. Click here to view the report.

When on the ground the future network would “change the face of the community for the better,” Wilmington City Councilwoman Laura Padgett said recently of the plan. The essence of greenways are in alternative routes to local destinations, ideally relieving some vehicular stress from area roadways. The plan also looks at “blueways” for kayaking and canoeing.

More than a year has gone into its drafting, aided by several public information meetings and more than 3,600 comment forms, according to planners.

“There was a significant amount of public outreach,” Mike Kozlosky, executive director of the Wilmington Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO), told Wilmington City Council during a wrap-up presentation in March.

Kozlosky said planners also looked at census data to identify populous areas the greenways should visit.

Some concern with the plan aired during planners’ public outreach meetings held over 2012; a pair of Alabama Avenue residents at Carolina Beach in September said they didn’t want to greenways to bring their neighborhood strangers who may be up to no good.

But Kozlosky has reiterated numerously that greenways have if anything produced positive social interaction and healthy lifestyles for the communities that have them.

Asheville and Greensboro are among cities with greenway networks.

“Altogether, the many functions that greenways serve will benefit all involved: From residents to visitors, and from local businesses to the natural environment, an expanded and interconnected system of greenways will improve overall quality of life,” boasts this greenway plan’s website.

MPO’s Transportation Advisory Committee, made up of members of various, elected county and municipal officials in New Hanover and northeast Brunswick counties, will give the greenway plan a final review at its next meeting, April 24.

Its approval is likely.

“The plan was a collective effort between the City of Wilmington, New Hanover County, Town of Carolina Beach, Town of Kure Beach, Town of Wrightsville Beach and the Wilmington MPO,” noted a memo to Wilmington City Council ahead of Tuesday’s endorsement.

Click here to view the plan, which officials said could be amended as need over the years.

Ben Brown is a news reporter at Port City Daily. Reach him at ben.b@hometownwilmington.com or (910) 772-6335. On Twitter: @benbrownmedia

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