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Carrboro Town Council approves Creekside Alignment for Bolin Creek Greenway

Bolin Creek Greenway on Thursday, Sept. 7, 2023.

The Carrboro Town Council met Tuesday night to discuss the results from the community engagement process for Phases 3 and 4 of the Bolin Creek Greenway and to approve the greenway's Creekside Alignment.

Mayor Damon Seils began the meeting with a proclamation for Oct. 22-28 to be Minority Enterprise Development Week, to honor the achievements of minority businesses in Carrboro.

What’s new?  

  • Catherine Lazorko, the communication and engagement director for the Town of Carrboro, presented the results from the community engagement process on alternative alignments for Phases 3 and 4 of the Bolin Creek Greenway. The process started in late March. 
    • Carrboro Planning Director Trish McGuire also presented a review of the technical and regulatory challenges for the alignment choices.
    • Part of the community engagement process included a survey to collect public opinion on what path option the Town should build. The three path options – called alignments – are the Creekside Alignment, the Upland Forest Alignment and the Bolin Connector Alignment.
Trail alignment options for the Bolin Green Greenway. Photo Courtesy of Steve Spindler Cartography/Town of Carrboro

  • The survey showed nearly 66 percent of people favored the Creekside Alignment.
  • Forty-five community members gave public comments on the greenway. Of those 45 people, 37 community members specifically said they were in favor of the greenway in general or specifically the creekside trail alignment.
    • Tim Turner, a Carrboro resident and the former chair of the environmental advisory board for the Town, spoke in favor of the Creekside Alignment. He also addressed concerns about environmental impacts the paved greenway could have on the creek. 
      • “If done properly, this trail can actually make things slightly better by stabilizing the bank which gets eroded now every time it rains, especially when it floods,” Turner said.
    • Valerie Calvo, a resident of Chapel Hill who lives near the existing greenway, said she is in support of the greenway and enjoys how connective the trail is.
      • “I love how the greenway connects me to other people and places,” she said.
    • Heidi Perry, a Carrboro resident since 1984, said she is in support of the Creekside Alignment because it will help the climate crisis by taking cars off the road. 
    • The attorney for the Friends of Bolin Creek, Shannon Arata, said the council needs to look deeper into the environmental impact of the Creekside Alignment option before building.
      • The Friends of Bolin Creek is a nonprofit organization that has advocated against the Creekside Alignment and instead for a path for the greenway that was not one of the final three options. They have said the survey conducted by the Town was “one-sided.”
      • Council member Randee Haven-O'Donnell is on the conservation committee for the organization.
  • Mayor Pro Tempore Susan Romaine said, though the Creekside Alignment is expensive to build and has some environmental risks, the choice has the potential to deliver the most powerful benefits to the community.
    • “It can offer community members of every age and physical ability and socio-economic background safe and affordable spaces to commute, to recreate, to reflect, socialize, and really enjoy the awesome beauty of Bolin forest,” she said. 
  • Haven-O’Donnell said the council should think more about the climate impact of building the Creekside Alignment before approving the project.
    • “Our interest in paving a greenway network through the forest, rather than a natural trail, demonstrates the misunderstanding of how we as human beings found ourselves in a climate crisis,” Haven-O’Donnell said. 
  • Council member Barbara Foushee said she recognized the decision for the Creekside Alignment would create angst and divisiveness.
    • “It doesn’t feel good when we’re not moving forward together,” she said. 
  • Council member Sammy Slade was elected to the town council in 2009, when the Bolin Creek Conceptual Master Plan was first adopted by the council. Slade said the council needs to follow through on their promise to the community to build the greenway. 

What decisions were made?

  • The council voted 6-1, with Haven-O’Donnell voting against, to adopt a resolution that the Creekside Alignment is the preferred path, along with a direction for Town staff to report back with next steps to the council in the spring and coordinate with the Town of Chapel Hill as needed.
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