Tag Archives: greenway

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.

Raleigh Greenway Rambling

I’ve recently spent a lot of time, recently, finding the connectors between bits of Raleigh’s awesome greenways. I’ve done a bit of scouting on my own, but recently came across several PDFs of maps that originally ran with N&O stories about the various trails. The N&O did a great job with these, going above and beyond the Raleigh Park and Rec version to help point out turns and transitions that you might miss.

  • Black Creek/Umstead/Reedy Creek -This trail will get you from Cary’s Godbold park on NW Maynard, past Lake Crabtree, through Umstead and the Museum of Art and eventually to Meredith College at the corner of Faircloth and Hillsborough. I’ve ridden about half of this with my 6-1/2 year-old son (Meredith to Edwards Mill). It’s a little hilly, but fun.
  • Crabtree greenway map -This will take you from SW Raleigh’s Oak Park neighborhood near Umstead, along Crabtree creek past Crabtree Valley Mall, past some beautiful downtown neighborhoods, through some (suprising!) nice wetlands, across Raleigh Blvd and evetually to Milburnie road, not far from Wake Med.

    The section between Hodges and Raleigh Blvd is fun for the kids. There’s an interesting roller-coaster of a boardwalk and the wetlands are a great place to spot turtles and birds. There’s also a nice gazebo – a good spot for a break. There are some big hills on the eastern-most end of the path.

  • American Tobacco Trail map -This trail is on my to-do list!

Note that it’s really easy to get to the Crabtree greenway from Shelly lake, making it a nice starting-point for excursions.

I’m planning on doing some research into the Walnut Creek trail, too. They’re dedicating a new section this week. The official greenway map is dated 2007, so it’s not 100% up-to-speed on recent completions. It shows some proposed peices along this stretch – I’m hoping that this means continuous travel from Centennial Campus on the west end, to Walnut Creek in the east.

Cary posts its “Bike and Hike” map here.

No discussion of Raleigh adventure would be complete without a link to Joe Miller’s “Get Out! Get Fit!” blog.

Anything to add? Please let me know in the comments.

Note: As of this posting, many of these routes are temporarily closed due to flooding caused by Hannah. Check the Raleigh Parks and Recreation site before you head out. They’ll have closing alerts on their homepage.