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13 Responses to Take Action!

  1. I love the natural beauty of the creek and am distressed to know that the Town of Carrboro is considering a major alteration to this special area. Surely there are better places to put a paved bikeway! How could anyone who is environmentally aware suggest that an impervious surface along any waterway is a good idea?

  2. Justin Medley says:

    Everyone needs to take a chill pill. We are talking about a path over an existing SEWER! I can’t believe this community is so up in arms over this. Do we not have anything better to do? We need miles and miles and miles of bike trails in this town if we truly want to be “environmental.” This is nothing but a bunch of scare tactics. This is not pristine forest – it is at least third or forth generation overgrowth with multiple invasive species.

    • J. Al Baldwin says:

      You’re right, of course, that the area in question is far from pristine forest, but aside from Joyce Kilmer recreation area in Graham County virtually ALL forests in North Carolina are new. Otherwise, the trees would be near sequoia-like in size — or at least comparable to Davie Poplar — and we’d have something like fifteen or more feet of topsoil. The topsoil vanished, by the way, because of harmful farming techniques, the result of which can be seen in many places in Carolina North and elsewhere along Bolin Creek. The various ditches and ravines that cross the Addams tract are a case in point. A steep hillside is never good for row crops, and generally is unsuitable for cattle. There are, nonetheless, several small stands of fairly old hardwoods that I find quite beautiful.

      And you’re right, as well, about the invasive plants, but there are few, if any, woodlands unsullied by such species. An I am relaxed, thank you, about this controversy, as over the past twenty years I’ve gotten used to watching hundreds of acres of field, forest, and farm fall to bulldozers. This includes, by the way, my own neighborhood which was a working farm when I first arrived here in the early seventies. I am as implicated as anyone, but I feel a responsibility to this community, and my children, to preserve at least a little bit of what once was here.

      It’s not about amusement. Trust me, I have better things to do.

      I agree that we need bike trails, if you’re referring to transportation needs, but for an effective return for our money trails must connect workplaces and residences. This proposal doesn’t do that. Further, off-road bikers looking for quick access to dirt trails surely must understand, given PH Craig’s No Trespassing signs and UNC’s removal of jumps, that such use in the future will be limited.

  3. KGB says:

    I’m surprised they’re letting dissenting comments be posted.

    If the area weren’t already such a mess, I’d say leave it be. Evidently the vox populi would rather run the overused trail into the creek under the guise of environmental activism than take the bull by the horns and put forth a realistic alternate plan of action (other than letting UNC pay for it as suggested in a letter to the CHN).

    If you don’t count people that don’t live around here, people that signed the petition because they have the same name or may have changed their minds on this issue, that 1100 number would be smaller and more legit.

    They’re not accurately representing public opinion. Cherry picking ‘the truth’ is just plain disingenuous. I think that behind the scenes there’s a lot of acrimony and vitriol that clouds the issue. Let’s not forget that the catalysts of this splinter group all own property adjacent to the creek and therefore have a vested interest in obfuscating the proposal.

    I look forward to seeing what they come up with. I hope that it’s as well received as the Greenways Inc. proposal was.

    • J. Al Baldwin says:

      Let me get this straight. You’re saying people who oppose a paved greenway from Estes to Homestead mostly live along Bolin Creek yet want to “run the overused trail into the creek,” an area which is “already such a mess.” And that they — the voice of the people? — have such a vested interest in perpetuating this degradation that they have purposefully encouraged erroneous signatures on their petition in order to mislead public opinion? And you suspect there’s a lot of secret ill-will among these mess seekers who wish to confuse “the issue,” who select and promote only the facts they want people to know?

      Does this make any sense? What people? What facts? Indeed, what issue?

      Of course the people who run this site invite dissent as there’s little opportunity for folks with opposing views to communicate otherwise. But ultimately whatever is said must be backed up by fact and reason. I’ve changed my views somewhat since I’ve begun looking into it, and I’m sure there are people on all sides who can say the same.

      And I’m pretty sure these people, if you look around this site a bit, have a number of alternative proposals. UNC, of course, is working on numerous transportation options between Carolina North — horrible name, that — and main campus, so it’s not a case of people trying to stick UNC with building a bike trail it doesn’t desire. It’s just that its planned route along Seawell School Road makes any path along Bolin Creek redundant — and irrelevant to any meaningful change in transportation culture.

      Please, join the debate. The clearer and more logical your opinions, however, the greater their weight.

      • KGB says:

        I agree: let’s have some constructive dialog free of attitudes, ad hominem attacks, rude behavior and specious reasoning.

        Where in the Greenways Inc. plan are the words ‘blasting’ or ‘explosives’ used?

        None of the language in that document describes anything like that. It talks about grading, retaining walls, raised trails and elevated structures but it doesn’t talk about blasting.

        To say otherwise is misinformation.

        Where can we see that a rep from the designer, the Town, the DOT, or the U advocates or has advocated blasting? Since the plan offered is conceptual, wouldn’t those kinds of details would be worked out by another professional engineer or designer once a particular phase is approved and funded? To be so certain of such an environmentally destructive practice at this stage of the plan’s development is clearly intended to inflame rather than inform.

        Chapel Hill gravel? Really? Page viii of the Executive Summary of the Greenways plan reads ‘…no material that is prone to washing and high maintenance be used in flood prone areas. This includes organic and inorganic aggregates.”

        To suggest that ‘all the area needs is some grading and some new gravel’ as petition signers have advised shows a complete lack of understanding of riverine systems.

        How are the organizers of this site correcting those misperceptions? They’re not.

        Hence the comment about the popular opinion that the area’s some kind of Piedmont Joyce Kilmer, that the quickly eroding area is ‘fine the way it is’, and that the handicapped have other greenways elsewhere. Rather than address the 900lb. gorilla in the room, ‘people’ would rather just keep over using it any way they please, especially because they perceive the public lands adjacent to their homes as their own personal preserve. So much so that they feel like they have the ‘authority’ to disrupt public meetings, defame people with differing opinions and seek to redefine processes that have functioned well for the community in the past.

        To come around and say that differing opinions are not quashed is also disingenuous. Where’s the ‘equal time’ on this site? Where are links to greenway success stories or groups with differing opinions? Strangely absent. At least for now.

        Given those simple observations and a modicum of research (aka reading the plan critically, not hysterically), site visitors might be inclined to perceive that these folks “have such a vested interest in perpetuating this degradation that they have purposefully encouraged erroneous signatures on their petition in order to mislead public opinion” or that “there’s a lot of” not so “secret ill-will among these mess seekers who wish to confuse “the issue,” who select and promote only the facts they want people to know.”

        Where’s the ‘I’ve reconsidered and want to withdraw my signature’ option? Why are non-local signatures added to the tally? Why are off-topic signatures counted? What about people who’ve signed both petitions? Don’t they kind of cancel themselves out?

        Having aired an opinion, I will continue to watch the community’s response to the plan offered and look forward to its implementation – whatever form it finally takes.

    • I’ve heard this bit about other opinions being squashed from time to time – usually via email. Truth is we get hundreds of page impressions per month but only a handful of comments. These are great. Keep them coming – just “mind your manners” and you’ll be fine.

  4. Contributor says:

    The area we aim to protect in a 425 acre forest without pavement. Most of this area will never be developed so it is a rare resource. Most people don’t know that the only money available for paved greenways comes from the Department of Transportation which requires expensive grading and clearing for any project to a width greater than 30 feet. State buffer rules designed to protect water quality would keep the pavement out of the cleared OWASA easement and would require serious blasting into igneous rock. There are few places this size in this county that are available for human recreation and natural forest habitat.

  5. J. Al Baldwin says:

    The question is not whether to leave it as it is or pave it, but whether this is the best way to spend the money, particularly when the alleged purpose is for transportation. Given the serious need for bike/pedestrian bridges and/or tunnels in various places in Carrboro, it is ludicrous to spend this money for what is in essence a recreation path that will do much damage to the place it passes through. Is it going to take someone getting killed in front of the Open Eye or along Estes Drive before sounder thinking takes hold? Build bike ways leading directly to UNC, with as few stops for traffic as possible, and people will use them simply because they will take less time.

    I agree that bike ways are desirable, but their desirability does not take precedence over alternatives and a careful consideration of the suitability of a given place for such paths. Parts of the area along Morgan Creek, for example, seem to be properly sited for a green way, while other parts of it are not. Curiously, this basic point seems to be accepted for Morgan Creek but not for the stretch in question along Bolin Creek. Factors that must be taken into consideration include, but are not restricted to, soil and underlying rock, forest, topography, and, yes, nearby homes and the people who live in them.

    Do people not have the right to speak out on matters of government with which they disagree? No matter the outcome, there’s a lot of work to be done along the creek and the streams leading to it. There will be less work to do the less disturbance there is along it, and the paths UNC currently has crossing Carolina North provide plenty of biking opportunities and will link to their planned bikeway along Seawell School Road. OWASA maintains the basic access way along Bolin creek, but any pedestrian/bike path needs to be permeable (I suggest Chapel Hill gravel) and as non-intrusive as possible so as to allow for appropriately scaled earthen berms and the return of native vegetation. Anyone familiar with the OWASA right of way in question knows that, unlike the Chapel Hill Path between the Police Station and the Community Center, most of the path lies directly ABOVE the sewer line, which, by its nature, must be accessed from time to time. At best, the proposed paved roadway (to support heavy OWASA vehicles and machines) would need to be torn up and rebuilt periodically, and at worst it would require shifting the greenway towards the creek or the forest, which would involve significant loss of forest, considerable bulldozer work, and, probably, blasting of underlying rock. The wiser choice in this case would be a simpler, lower impact approach along the creek, and the use of bike transportation money in other places where it is direly needed.

  6. Joan Widdifield says:

    Looking around the county, it’s disappointing to see the over-development mistakes that have been made. When I used to visit Chapel Hill two decades ago, it was such a lovely place. Now it is sad that so many farms have been covered with cookie cutter developments. There are few natural areas (that I know of) to get away for a few hours a day.

    Having lived in Boulder, San Francisco and Mill Valley I learned first hand what increases the quality of life in a community: natural open space. That is, a place that is valued, will never be developed, and that will be preserved and maintained for public use.

    When I was a new mother in Boulder, I’d drop my toddler off at pre-school and hike in the Flatirons with my dogs for a few hours. When I moved to San Francisco there were many natural places to find refuge from city life. I’d usually take three-mile hikes at Fort Funston overlooking the ocean. In Mill Valley, north of the Golden Gate Bridge, I enjoyed daily hikes on some of Mount Tam’s 50 miles of trails, some right outside my door. It was like having a vacation every day.

    When I moved to Carrboro I discovered the beautiful Bolin Forest. The creek is gorgeous. What a gem we have! At 425 acres, it’s not huge, but it’s a unique oasis for us all (I’ve seen hiking strollers, and wheelchairs, especially near Sewell School.).

    When I heard that some aldermen and the mayor are proposing to put a transportation route that is required to be constructed of concrete, and up to 30′ wide with grading, I was shocked. (One can walk the creek and see how narrow the valley is. Rock will have to be blasted as well as hundreds of trees, which will destroy tree canopy, causing a cascade of deleterious effects. We are very pro-greenways/bike routes. But not this route because of the expense both financially and to the natural setting.) There is a much better alternative route on Sewell School Road. Destroying our natural gem would be a huge mistake, and it would be difficult to un-ring that bell, once rung.

    I want to encourage our aldermen to show foresight and wisdom in making this important decision for our town and future generations. Carrboro is supposed to be an edgy, progressive, and environmentally aware town, where people want to be. I hope our aldermen are forward-thinking and give us the gift of nature when they make this decision.

  7. J. Al Baldwin says:

    To KGB:

    First, thanks for sending a piece with many specifics. I regret that I don’t have the time to respond to all of them. It seems obvious that while you disagree with members of SBC, you care about this land. Otherwise, you would not have taken the time to write.

    You’re right, though, in that I do need to study the plan more carefully. Your response includes points of wisdom, and it challenges SBC to correct misperceptions – a worthy undertaking for any organization. However, there are a number of erroneous statements and assumptions.

    First, I don’t know anyone who believes the area in question needs to be left as is. It needs a lot of work to return it, as you suggest, to something like a healthy stream system that filters and absorbs.

    My basic concerns about Bolin Creek and its area revolve around two ideas: I think the area should be considered a park, not a pass through, and I believe serious consideration of specific and appropriate scale must occur at every level of conception.

    I don’t think paving such a trail is as simple as laying down a shallow swath of concrete along the existing OWASA path. Whether or not the plan mentions it, I am certain, based on many walks along this OWASA right of way, that a serious concrete passage way will necessitate extensive tree cutting, blasting, and excavation. I also believe that the meandering nature of the proposed bike path, AND its distance from the first phase of Carolina North, AND the fact that it leads not to campus but rather to the University Mall area, AND that UNC already plans a bike path along Seawell School Road, all suggest that the proposed pathway is more for recreation, and perhaps real estate interests, than the establishment a serious transportation route.

    J. Al Baldwin

  8. KGB says:

    I share your basic concerns about Bolin Creek and its area – a park, not a pass through and economies of scale.

    The blasting thing is so far out in the tall grass it can only be seen if you’re out there too. Repeating BS ad nauseam won’t make the lie any more true: the conceptual plan doesn’t mention blasting anywhere in it. I still defy this group of passionate people to explain where or who this canard came from as its clearly not ever been mentioned by Town planners, DOT reps or anyone with the U. To persist with the idea that blasting or explosives will be required does little for personal or group credibility.

    Sit down with a cup of coffee and a bran muffin and read the plan. A lot of the ideas are painted with a broad brush; regulatory, design, and construction specifics will be explored as the concept plan evolves further.

    Thank you for continuing a civil dialog Mr. Baldwin.

    • Contributor says:

      Friends of Bolin Creek has been working with a geologist as part of the Conservation Plan for the watershed. On a recent walk we held for the public, we invited him to tell us the ancient geologic history of the valley. He described the types of rock and much is a hard volcanic type. This expert commented that if a paved path were to be built here explosives would be needed. Another point to note is that we should not expect any conceptual plan to include construction details which comes at another phase when the detailed design work is done.

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