Bolin Creek showdown

It's been interesting to see the increasing heat in the debate about the proposed Carrboro section of the Bolin Creek Greenway. It seems to have created a public rift in the group Friends of Bolin Creek, leading to the apparent self-demotion of one of it's co-chairs. Dave Otto was still a co-chair when he wrote "A case for a concrete greenway" in the Chapel Hill News on January 10th, but Julie McClintock was the sole leader by the time her response "The case for keeping Bolin Creek natural" was published on January 17th.

"I do not think it is in the best interest of the Friends of Bolin Creek for the leadership to be split in this way," Otto said in his announcement. "I am therefore stepping back to permit the group to speak with a more unified voice." He will serve instead as vice-chair.

- Chapel Hill News: To pave or not to pave?, 1/24/09


All I have to say about the internal wrangling at FOBC right now is that I'm not suprised Julie came out on top. I do have some other things to say about the greenway, as it would connect to the upcoming phase III of Chapel Hill's Bolin Creek Greenway. Phase III will come within a few hundred feet of my home, and will bring a safer and more pleasant connection from the Umstead Drive area to MLK Boulevard, University Mall, and the future Carolina North. 

So as someone who stands to benefit greatly from this greenway, I'd be very disappointed of Carrboro doesn't particpate and help complete the network. A group of Carrboro activists led by Johnny Randall offerred some excellent points an article in this Sunday's News: 

The greenway will also allow many to leave their cars at home and visit parks, shopping centers and other public places, and actually ride a bicycle to work and/or school.

It is misleading to indicate that "the proposed route fails to line up with key connections" since the greenway will eventually link Twin Creeks Park at Eubanks Road with University Mall, the Chapel Hill Greenway system, and all points in between. The proposed greenway and connecting paths will, in fact, provide connections to at least seven schools (Chapel Hill High, Smith and McDougle Middle Schools, and Seawell, McDougle, Carrboro, and Morris Grove elementary schools) and link Carolina North to the main UNC campus. The proposed greenway also allows for access to public bus stops, providing connections to transportation networks greater than just the path itself.

There is concern that the proposed greenway will require "a clearing as wide as 30 feet," but the proposed greenway corridor is already a cleared 30-foot wide utility easement that is in many areas highly degraded...  Little tree clearing should be necessary if the greenway is created in the existing OWASA easement.

- Chapel Hill News: Bolin Creek beautiful but far from pristine, 1/24/09

More reading: (the greenway developers)



I had heard something about this issue and it didn't make a lot of sense to me.  I have now read both positions in the newspaper and scanned the contractors report and it all starts to make sense.  It seems to me Dave and Julie have very different ideas about the purpose of a (this) greenway.  It is either an alternate transportation corridor (I mean for alternate modes of transportation.) or it is a recreation area or it is a relative pristine oasis in a rapidly urbanizing area.  I think it is unlikely to be successful at all three.  There is a fourth goal that I am not sure has been considered, that of a wildlife corridor.  I have hiked Bolin Creek from Lake Hogan to almost downtown Carrboro. I live near it.  I know I would prefer options 3 and 4 but I am not sure that is the most practical solution for a rapidly urbanizing area with difficult connectivity issues like Carrboro but it would be nice to retain some relatively pristine environment for communion and peace of mind.  Many larger cities have historically been able to do this.  These places have value that is difficult to quantify.  Something that is more quantifiable is the effect that the different types of development will have on the environmental services provided by the Creek and it's riparian boundary and the effect on water quality down stream.  It seems to me that New Hope Creek, at least in Duke Forrest, will maintain most of these qualities.  Unfortunately for me I live a few 10s of yards from Bolin Creek and a few miles from New Hope Creek. 


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