Eastern Wake News

Zebulon residents show strong support for greenway system

Lionel Hicks of Lizard Lick, left, shares his knowledge of a corridor north of Zebulon with Brian Starkey of OBS Landscape Architects during a public open house regarding the town’s greenway master plan at Zebulon Town Hall in Zebulon, N.C. on Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2015.
Lionel Hicks of Lizard Lick, left, shares his knowledge of a corridor north of Zebulon with Brian Starkey of OBS Landscape Architects during a public open house regarding the town’s greenway master plan at Zebulon Town Hall in Zebulon, N.C. on Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2015. amoody@newsobserver.com

While residents didn’t show up in droves at the first chance to offer input on Zebulon’s greenway master plan, consultants in charge of forming the plan said turnout was enough to give them an idea of what the people want.

The nearly unanimous feedback from the couple dozen visitors of two open house sessions at town hall on Jan. 13 was that the public supports connecting prominent locations in town with a system of trails.

The consultants collected about 50 surveys from attendees of the town hall sessions and others who filled them out online and at town facilities at other times. Only one survey showed opposition to a greenway system, citing concerns of potential crime on the trail as the reason.

“We also have the feedback of town staff, the town council and the advisory committee,” said Brian Starkey of OBS Landscape Architects. “We’re getting a lot of feedback from a lot of places. It was very positive in terms of the benefits.

“Those who filled out the survey really understood what the benefits of a greenway system are. People spoke to what destinations they’d like to see greenway connect, and expressed an interest to being connected to Wendell, Knightdale and the Raleigh greenway.”

Aside from surrounding communities, participants named downtown, the library, parks, retail areas and Five County Stadium as places they’d like to see the greenway link together. No one named an area of town the greenway planners should avoid in making their initial blueprints.

People also suggested amenities they’d like to see along the trail, including fitness stations, educational opportunities, benches and restrooms.

Organizers believe they would have seen better attendance for the second open-house session had ice not been in the weather forecast that night.

“I think it was a relatively good turnout given the weather that evening and given the nature of the project,” Starkey said. “We’ve had plenty of community meetings where we didn’t get that many and plenty where we’ve had 200 people.”

Starkey said there are factors less obvious than the weather that make it difficult to assess all that influences turnout to such events.

“The word could be out there and someone could say something (about the meeting) to their neighbors, and their reply could be ‘I love greenways, so I don’t need to go,’ ” he said.

Consultants intend to complete the study by the end of July.

The firm plans to hold a public meeting in March to share preliminary ideas and maps explaining where the proposed greenway trails should be built. Starkey said it may be an open house scenario like the first wave of public meetings.

The group then plans to come back with a more formal plan and presentation to town leaders in the spring or early summer.

“We’re also doing some research into funding sources for the construction portion and will start working on design criteria,” Starkey said.

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