Needed: Greenway Champion

Update: Please read this page before emailing me about this article.

Are you a big fan of Raleigh’s awesome greenway system? Great – I need your help.

At the November 19th meeting of the Parks and Recreation Greenway Advisory Board (PRGAB), a section of greenway in North Raleigh will be discussed. This section (the Honeycutt Creek Greenway) will eventually connect from Falls Lake to Shelley Lake. Read a bit about it on my Get To Know A Park blog. It’s going to be a great addition to the greenway system. The problem is that there’s a small but vocal group that’s raising a lot of fuss about the greenway passing through their neighborhood. Their arguments are along the lines of “putting this greenway through my neighborhood will lower my property value and bring in a lot of creepy people that I don’t want peeing in my front yard.”

Here’s where you can help: I need a couple of well-spoken greenway advocates to appear at the PRGAB meeting and speak out in favor of greenways in general and this stretch in the specific. This is an emotional group – you’ll need to be level headed and armed with facts.

Some things that might be helpful to know:

  • Greenways do not increase the crime rate in an area
  • Greenways don’t lower property values (they often increase it)
  • In Raleigh, Greenways aren’t paid for at the cost of education or jobs – they’re funded from an entirely separate source (bonds that we voted in support of in 2003 and 2007)

(check out my blog post for some supporting documentation.)

The perfect candidate for this assignment:

  • is an active user of the greenways
  • has children/family members that use the greenways
  • can maintain their sanity despite any level of crazy thrown at them
  • is not a knife-wielding, yard-peeing, toy-stealing thug
  • ideally lives in North Raleigh (extra points if you live in near Strickland Road between Six Forks and Falls of the Neuse)

Know anyone that fits this description? I’m not looking to pack the house – I’m hoping to find a couple people that can stand up at the meeting and speak out in defense of this project. The meeting is going to be held at the Jaycee park module at 2401 Wade Avenue at 5:30pm on November 19th. If you can help out, please let me know. If not, please consider sharing this with your friends, family, cycling club, civic group etc.

Thanks for helping!

Fixing GMail Sync Issues on the Android Platform

GMail on my G1 recently stopped syncing. The little sync indicator does its spinny-thing, but I don’t get new email from the server. Searches for “G1 sync fail gmail” and similar combinations didn’t turn up any good prospects initially. I eventually found the simple solution on the Google mobile support foums. Hope this helps someone out there!

NIMBY? – Support Your Local Greenway

Update: Please read this page before emailing me about this article.

Over a decade ago, soon after I moved into my current home, I attended a homeowner’s association meeting where the new neighborhood swimming pool was a hotly-debated topic. A small, but vocal, minority actually suggested that the pool should be filled with concrete. The argument was basically “upkeep of the pool costs too much and I don’t plan to use it, so get rid of it”. Certainly, it’s easy to make a case for how a neighborhood pool increases your property value. Our pool has become a hub for activities throughout the year. Looking back on that meeting, I laugh at the NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) attitude so strongly voiced by that minority.

Last night, I had the displeasure of witnessing a similar display of  fingers-in-my-ears-I-can’t-hear-you from citizens opposing routing of a greenway along the sidewalk across the front of their property in North Raleigh. Some things that I actually heard said:

  • “I don’t want the cyclists that ride on the greenway peeing in my front yard and using my water spigot!”
  • “It’s not going across your front yard, so shut up!” (directed to a neighbor that said they’d welcome a connector path that’d let them safely reach other parts of the city)
  • “If the greenway goes through our neighborhood, that means that the crime rate is going to up!”
  • “Great – now we’re going to have a bunch of homeless people living in our neighborhood!”
  • In response to the answer to a question about who will maintain the cleanliness of the trail (the City of Raleigh will): “I’ve driven past a pile of beer bottles [on a nearby road] for two weeks – the city hasn’t picked those up!” (When I asked her why she hadn’t, her reply was “…and get out of my car? On that street?”)

The group was really pretty rude. Some would hardly let their sympathetic on-the-same-side neighbors finish a sentence, let alone the city representatives that were present to hear their grievances (BTW, the Park & Rec representatives did an excellent job of maintaining level-headed-ness in spite of the verbal abuse). There was also a lot of reference to anecdotal “I knew someone who lived near a greenway and someone stole all of their kids toys” rhetoric, but not much fact.

Research has shown that having neighborhood access to a greenway increases property value and has no impact whatsoever on the crime rate or homeless rate in your area. None. The trails are often credited with deterring crime. The Rails-to-Trails conservancy put together a comprehensive and well-written pamphlet that summarizes the experiences of 372 communities with large trail networks.

I applaud the vision that Raleigh has for the future of our city. Since the mid-80’s, Raleigh has deliberately set aside land for green spaces and secured easements for routing of trails throughout the area. We have a great city Parks & Rec department that works with affected communities to find the best fit when routing trails through existing neighborhoods. And Raleigh’s citizens obviously value this mission as is evidenced by the passing of the bonds that fund these projects.

OK. I’ve got that off my chest. I’ve been pretty ticked since attending that neighborhood meeting. But here’s what I hope you take away with you today: there are a lot of great parks, green spaces and trails in our city. They benefit us all financially and from a quality-of-life point of view. Go outside today!

Oh, yeah – not sure where to start? Check out my blog about area parks and greenways.