A local group has voted to develop its own greenway transportation plan, which members say will help protect a local watershed.
The board of directors for the Friends of Bolin Creek, a nonprofit organization that aims to conserve the Bolin Creek watershed, voted to create its own transportation plan at its first meeting of the year on Jan. 8.
The transportation plan will be incorporated into the group’s Bolin Creek Conservation Study, which is expected to be completed and presented to the town in the fall, according to a Tuesday press release.
The group’s conservation study will describe the economic impact, geology and history of Bolin Creek in addition to making recommendations to promote sustainable use and to improve its conditions.
“What we’re trying to do is help build the best greenway that we can possibly build in town at the lowest cost and with the least impact on the ecology of Bolin Creek,” said Rob Crook, an expert in forestry and water quality who serves on the group’s conservation plan strategy committee.
Bolin Creek flows into Jordan Lake, which is a major source of drinking water for Orange County and surrounding areas.
Carrboro Alderman Sammy Slade said there is much discussion within the community about how to balance environmental concerns and promote alternative transportation around the creek area.
“There’s one side that sees environmentalism on a larger scale, understanding the value of providing alternative transportation infrastructure,” he said.
“There’s another part of the community that sees environmentalism and conservation in a much more local traditional sense in that they would like to maintain the natural aspects of this part of the creek as much as possible.”
Alderman Joal Hall Broun said part of the conflict stems from the materials the greenway paths will be built of, with concern arising from the potential for runoff during floods.
“Some people are advocating a plain, natural surface,” Broun said. “Some people are advocating pavement so handicapped people have access.”
The Friends of Bolin Creek group is advocating natural surfaces wherever greenways run close to the creek.
“The overall goal is to make the creek unimpaired—to make it healthy again,” said Julie McClintock, chairwoman of the group.
“Our whole area’s growing rapidly, and there are many studies which show that our roads are going to be gridlocked at some point.”
McClintock said this issue could be addressed by building more greenways and bike paths with the idea that people will use alternative modes of transportation to get places.
Crook said these paths can make communities more attractive for prospective movers, as well as create jobs and increase real estate value.
The group is working with representatives from organizations like the UNC Department of City and Regional Planning, Triangle Off-Road Cyclists and Orange Water and Sewer Authority as well as the towns of Chapel Hill and Carrboro to develop the conservation plan.
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