I wanted to take a moment today to highlight a plea from Larry Brockman of the Ellerbe Creek Watershed Association, supporting City funding of the design phase for Phase II of the West Ellerbe Creek Greenway.
Today, that greenway extends through most of Watts-Hillandale, terminating near Guess Road. If you stop by a trailhead anywhere in Durham, however, you'll notice that the trail is designed to continue east of Guess Road, through the I-85 corridor, and on up to Stadium Drive.
Connecting this missing link is -- along with the Duke Beltline trail corridor -- one of the most important pieces of Durham's greenway/trail puzzle to be completed. Besides connecting West Durham neighborhoods with the North Pointe shopping center (which is a great goal in and of itself), this segment would actually connect the West Ellerbe greenway with the North-South Greenway that runs from Horton Road down all the way to Trinity Ave. and then, via the Downtown Trail, along to the American Tobacco Trail's north trailhead. (For the record, the N/S Greenway runs along Stadium Drive from N. Duke Street to the turn-off for Whippoorwill Park in North Durham.)
Among other things, this makes a bike commute from north Durham to the Ninth Street and Duke areas a much more palatable experience; once you reach the residential streets of Watts-Hillandale, it's an easy bike commute to the Med Center or Duke's East and West Campuses. Currently, bicyclists have to brave Hillandale or Guess to make this commute -- and needless to say, most don't.
Intervention is needed now because the City did not include the $285,000 needed to design this trail connector in the next fiscal year's budget. Studies show over and over again that trails and greenways are one of the single most popular park and recreation features in American cities, Durham included. And from a cost perspective, it's a far less expensive city service to add than massive recreation centers, which we can as if magically find the funds to build all over the Bull City.
Adding to the frustration: NCDOT already included a pedestrian tunnel facility in the I-85 construction, meaning that the most expensive part of actually building Phase II of the West Ellerbe Creek Greenway -- that passage through the I-85 corridor -- is already finished, which makes this a far less expensive project than the interminably-delayed I-40 bridge for the American Tobacco Trail near Southpoint.
Action is needed before 5pm today to get your voice heard by the City Council. Read Larry Brockman's full plea after the cut below to find out how you can make a difference.
If you enjoy walking, running or biking along the West Ellerbe Creek Trail/Greenway located between Indian Trail Park and Westover Park and would like to see the trail extended THIS IS THE TIME TO ACT. Extending the greenway will allow you to safely bike or walk to Museum of Life and Science, to the West Point on Eno, N. Point Shopping area and connect to many other parts of Durham with out having to drive your car.
Durham Parks and Recreation has requested design funds for Phase II of the West Ellerbe Creek Greenway. Phase II would stretch from Westover Park (between Guess Road and Maryland Ave) to Stadium Drive, which parallels the North/South Greenway.
The Parks department has requested about $285,000 dollars for the design, but the budget currently does not include the funds for this project. Like usual Park funds are tight. Most funding will go toward maintenance of existing facilities, no new trails at all are funded.
I would ask you to contact City Council and urge them to include funding for this greenway in the Capital Improvement Project (CIP) budget. These are some points that City Council should consider:
The 2005 General Obligation Bond included no funds for design and construction of new trails in Durham
The Durham Open Space and Trails committee has recommended the City fund this greenway
The public is craving for places to walk and bike close to their homes, this does just that
This greenway would link west Durham neighborhoods with North Pointe shopping center and the North/South Greenway. This will allow families in this part of town to safely walk or bike to a large shopping center, the Museum of Life and Science and several parks. Phase I and Phase II of the West Ellerbee Creek greenway would be about 1.75 miles long.
Section 10 of the Durham Comprehensive Plan states that the city must continue to provide a comprehensive system of safe, accessible and convenient greenways & trails. The plan suggests that there should be 0.4 miles of trail for every 1000 residents by 2010, which equates to about 92 miles of trail. So far we only have about 18 miles on the ground (according to the Durham Bike Plan).
The land for this greenway corridor has already been acquired by the city, and a tunnel under for I-85 for this greenway has already been built.
If the city funds the project this year, the amount appropriated can be used as matching funds for the Ellerbe Creek Watershed Association's Clean Water Management Trust Fund grant (~$450,000) to help protect the existing W. Ellerbe Creek Greenway which is threatened by stream bank erosion. This would add substantially increase the likelihood of grant approval.
The first step to making the West Ellerbe Creek Greenway a reality is getting a design. Please urge city council members to set aside funds for this design. Contact them no later than Wednesday 5 PM, June 6.
You can make a difference! Don't be bashful, let your elected official know how you feel. Call them and leave a message and/or send an e-mail:
To send a general email to all Council members, firstname.lastname@example.org
To send a more personal e-mail and for phone numbers, see below:
Mayor Bill Bell
Phone: (919) 560-4333 ext. 269
Phone: (919) 560-4396 ext. 277 or 477-2484
Phone: (919) 560-4396 ext. 274
Phone: (919) 560-4396 ext. 266
Phone: (919) 560-4396
Thomas A. Stith, III
Phone: (919) 560-4396 ext. 273
Phone: (919) 560-4396 ext. 276