Most everyone we talk to appreciates the value greenways add to our quality of life. Agreeing to spend money for them, however, is a trickier proposition.
Most towns now require developers to commit a certain amount of land to open space. It’s land not to be built on, but left in its natural state. Most often, that ends up being the most difficult land to build on in the first place and developers are happy not to have to mess around with it.
But open space falls short of greenways – developed walking or bicycling paths that give residents a natural space to get outdoors and experience a respite from the hectic pace of daily life.
While town officials understand the difference, and get the value that comes with a developed greenway, it sometimes prove to be a difficult sell.
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In Knightdale, local leaders have committed funds toward the construction of greenways. They are approaching the development of those paths in a thoughtful way that helps connect local trails to others in nearby communities, which means no one is forced to walk in a circle that goes nowhere.
In Wendell and Zebulon, funding priorities have been different and, so far, there’s been no aggressive push to put money into a greenway. Zebulon Parks and Recreation Director Greg Johnson wants to create a plan that would lead to the development of greenways in the future. That’s a start, but he still needs town commissioners to climb on board and pay for that plan. And they must be committed to the idea of paying the cost of enacting the plan. We don’t endorse the creation of new plans destined to gather dust on a shelf.
Wendell has an idea of what it would like to do on the greenway front, but there’s been no aggressive advocate for such an effort on the board of commissioners.
Budget season is getting underway in earnest. Town managers, commissioners and council members are starting to think about their spending priorities and where the money would come from to make those priorities a reality.
We encourage leaders on all our eastern Wake County towns to think seriously about the value of greenways and dig deep to move forward with efforts to develop a greenway system – or in Knightdale’s case, expand a greenway system – that everyone can be proud of.