At a time when greenways are popping up like daisies in Wake County, town leaders are taking the initial steps to keep Zebulon in the loop.
Parks and Recreation Director Greg Johnson spoke about the value of the walking trails at the town’s annual retreat in February. He told commissioners and fellow department heads there won’t be connective paths in Zebulon any time soon unless the town puts a plan in place in the near future.
“The first step if we’re going to pursue this is to do a greenway open space master plan,” Johnson said. “We have a grant we can apply for right now that would pay in full for the cost of a master plan. We have to get on this sooner than later if we’re going to really realize the full beauty of a connection of greenways.”
Johnson said the master plan is estimated to cost between $40,000 and $60,000. His department is working on an application for the John Rex Endowment’s Healthy Community Grant it plans submit in April.
Zebulon and the town of Wendell jointly adopted an open space and greenway master plan through Wake County in August, 2002. That plan was a first glance at creating a network of trails passing through the natural features of eastern Wake County and other notable locations. Johnson said it included the Little River corridor and east to the area of Five County Stadium and Moccasin Creek.
“That was looking more out in the county,” Johnson said. “Now, we’re looking more inside-out. We want people in town to have connectivity in town and these new neighborhoods that are coming in.
“There’s been a lot of change since 2002 also, so they’ll be some updating to where we are today, but we’ll probably end up using some of (the 2002) plan when we create ours.”
Johnson referred to greenways as linear parks that can connect the town’s traditional parks, like those found at Wakelon and Zebulon elementary schools.
“Greenways are just a cool, feel-good place to be,” Johnson said. “Parks and recreation has been talking a lot about getting people outdoors for physical activity. We want to get people moving more, and this is a convenient way to do that.”
Town Manager Rick Hardin and Mayor Bob Matheny said there are things the town can do on the planning end to ease any future greenway plans.
“With some of our developments we can require certain things be put in to facilitate greenways crossing through the subdivision so residents can have access to them,” Hardin said. “It’s valuable to (the residents).”
Matheny noted the terms of existing easements have been the issue preventing the creation of his dream greenway running from Zebulon Community Park to Five County Stadium.
“I’d like to be sure if we get further easements that they include walking (as a use), because we want a bigger web of walking trails as we go further along,” he said. “When people are thinking about moving to Zebulon I think about what entices them to come here.
“We’re on the cusp of a lot of growth here and we need to be able to manage it and be able to attract it.”