We are in favor of building better greenways for walking and enjoying the Piedmont woods and streams of our area. We like the natural surface trails like Battle Park and the Botanical Garden, and where the topography lends itself to paved paths, greenways like the one on the lower Bolin Creek in Chapel Hill. Paved greenways or bikeways are usually paid for with federal and state bikeways funds. We endorse Chapel Hill and Carrboro’s efforts to place a priority on Federal and State transit funds received from the MPO toward providing safe places to walk and ride.
Riding our free bus system, walking, and bicycling will ease traffic congestion which will inevitably increase as northern Chapel Hill and Carrboro grow, and as Carolina North campus is built out. We want our tax monies spent efficiently. We support many aspects of Carrboro’s greenway plan, except the proposed section along Bolin Creek which we think is problematic. We are also working actively for the campus to campus connector, from downtown UNC campus to Carolina North.
The Bolin Creek valley contains 425 acres inhabited by a remarkable number of plant and animal species. We are fortunate than in our rapidly urbanizing towns we can still experience walking and running in a woods inhabited by owls, hawk and beaver. The great majority of these woods will not be developed because of the terms of purchase of the Adams tract owed by the Town, as well as UNC’s commitment to conserve their property west of Seawell School Road for at least 50 years. Friends of Bolin Creek believes that the one 88 acre tract remaining in private ownership could be purchased by a mix of government and public funds.
We have reintroduced to the public the Orange County studies from the 1990’s. Those excellent County studies documented the extraordinary wildlife and forests located in the Bolin Forest between Estes and Homestead. Subsequent studies of this exceptional natural area followed. A state funded study in 2004 identified this forest as a highly significant undeveloped natural area which should be conserved. A quick summary can be found here. Other studies and restoration projects followed. A list is found here.
Here are some additional ways we have engaged in the community discussion on building the best greenways routes.
- December 2009, citizens petitioned the Board of Aldermen to delay consideration of the controversial greenway proposed next to Bolin Creek north of Estes Drive. The Board of Aldermen voted for several important bike or “greenways” . They deferred action on creekside route, and voted to add at least two alternative routes to the proposed greenway map. However, they did not approve the Bolin Creek Concept Plan.
- We attended all Greenway Commission meetings and finally were permitted to speak in June.
- We met with Mayor Chilton and Alderman Randee Have O’Donnell to share alternative bicycle route which will be built by UNC on Seawell School Road.
- In March we supported Friends of Bolin Creek initiative to develop a comprehensive Conservation Plan for the watershed.
- In October 2010, we met with the State Department of Water Quality and asked how the Jordan Lake rules would likely be applied to permit applications. Greenways are an “allowable” use under the Jordan Lake rules but only if there is no practical alternative.
- We presented these findings to the Greenways Commission.
- November 2010, we presented a statement to the Greenways Commission in favor of the green route south of Homestead Road which kept the pavement away from riparian areas. Commission voted to approve this route.