Town council members discussed a series of connectivity options for southern Garner at the Aug. 26 work session, options that all came in over the 2013 bond’s $750,000 greenway budget.
Some of the five proposals to link the Lakemoor subdivision to White Deer Park exceeded the budget dramatically. The consultants will next go back, tweak the routes and bring forward more refined proposals.
“No one had walked the trail, looked at the construct-ability point of view,” planning director Brad Bass said of the pre-referendum estimates.
Costs for the five proposals peaked at about $1.6 million. A couple greenway options – without sidewalks to link multiple neighborhoods to its entrance – were as low as $756,000 and $775,000.
Council ruled out the drastically over-budget routes but admitted the project might require outside funding or additional town funds to supplement bond money, especially with the possibility of future complications.
“We’re not going to get this thing at $750,000. It might cost $850,000, it might cost $900,00, but it’s not going to cost $750,000,” councilman Gra Singleton said. “We need to realize that right now.”
One of the consultant’s $1.6 million options in particular did not include any greenways at all, a concern for town staff. According to the consultant (McKim & Creed), many residents of the southwestern Garner development wanted a way to walk down Buffaloe Road to both Lake Benson and White Deer Park.
That option involved a 6,100-foot sidewalk from Cane Creek Drive down Buffaloe Road, a new pedestrian bridge over the Lake Benson Bridge, and further sidewalk extending all the way to both parks.
“When we had a public input meeting last August...people wanted to walk to the park on Buffaloe Road. That’s why so many have a Buffaloe Road connection,” said Joel Mullin, a project manager for McKim & Creed. “Understanding that was way out of budget, we looked back to see what else we could do.”
Other proposals varied based on where on Buffaloe the greenway started and the path it took around the Breezeway South development.
One plan extends a sidewalk from Cane Creek Drive to Navan Lane, with a greenway entering northeastward about 400 feet up Buffaloe Road from Navan Lane. The 2,985-foot, 10-foot wide asphalt greenway would connect to exisiting greenways in White Deer Park.
Benefits include distance from the Breezeway subdivision and, once the sidewalk is dropped from the $1.5 million idea, the greenway comes in about $94,000 over budget. Also it would avoid the problem of those in southern Lakemoor having to double back up Buffaloe away from the parks before reaching the greenway. But the low-lying area is flood-prone and doesn’t provide the best aesthetics. And the pedestrian crossing for the greenway entrance is near a curve on Buffaloe Road that impairs sightlines for motorists.
Other greenway proposals strike out toward White Deer Park’s greenways at an entrance on Buffaloe opposite Misty Meadow Lane. While some residents would have to double back northwest, the entrance is at a safer location.
The two near-budget greenways, each about 4,100 feet long, would come close to the Breezeway subdivision as well as properties on Thompson Road. Easements would be needed and residents may raise objections, the consultants said.
Both Singleton and Ken Marshburn liked the idea of hanging on to the first option presented – the one consisting of only sidewalks on Buffaloe Road. Despite some concerns raised about potential cost escalation of the pedestrian bridge over the tip of Lake Benson, they suggested it might be the best long-term solution. Fellow-councilman Buck Kennedy agreed.
“I’d love to keep option A in without sidewalks all along Buffaloe,” he said, suggesting just building the sidewalk from Navan Lane to the parks.
Bass warned building a straight sidewalk with greenway money might present legal problems, and Kennedy presented some Breezeway residents with a choice, though no final decisions were made.
“Are you willing to wait until we can get (the sidewalk)? Because something is going to get (the greenway money) in the meantime. If people are going to stick to Buffaloe Road it’s going to be a while,” Kennedy said.