The Winston-Salem/Forsyth County City-County Planning Board will consider a plan prioritizing greenway construction at its next meeting on April 12. If the board recommends the plan, it will go to the Winston-Salem City Council and Forsyth County Commission for final approval.
The Bicycle-Greenway Planning Subcommittee of the Winston-Salem Urban Area considered 18 greenways for consideration and then ranked them by connectivity, construction feasibility and public support to determine their priority. Three first-priority projects are expected to be built in the next five to seven years, although funding has not been established.
Following a public-input process last year, which involved eight meetings, other projects were deemed second priority, meaning that design work and construction might begin in the next seven to 15 years. Further down the ranking were projects that were deemed to need further assessment. And beyond that were greenways considered “long-term projects” and ones that were deemed unfeasible by the city engineering department.
Some members of the nine-member planning board expressed surprise at the percentage of surveyed residents that said they opposed construction of greenways through their neighborhoods.
“Most people are generally supportive of greenways until they find out it’s coming through their neighborhood, and then the whole thing changes,” said Amy Crum, a project planner on the planning board staff.
Crum added that some residents who live along a recently completed section of the Muddy Creek Greenway have changed their tune. “They were against it,” she said. “And then it was built and are absolutely for it, think it’s wonderful.”
Board member Clarence Lambe, a county appointee from Kernersville, said, “The half a dozen people that I know that use it, to a person they love it. They really do. And they want to see increased connectivity. That was why I was so shocked at the results of your survey. But that needs to be part of your story — is converts.”
Three projects are at the top of the city and county’s list assuming they receive approval.
The proposed Waughtown Connector would runs less than a mile, connecting Reynolds Park Road to Waughtown Road. It would pass through the former Piedmont Quarry. The quarry is owned by the city of Winston-Salem, which makes the trail attractive from a cost consideration, but the topography and exposed rock are considered obstacles. The project would also require approval from Duke Energy, which controls right-of-way, to move forward.
About two thirds of neighboring residents surveyed by the committee said they supported construction of the greenway and would use it.
The proposed Salem Creek Greenway Extension, which is just over a mile long, would connect the Salem Creek Trail at Market Place Mall to Forsyth Tech. The greenway would allow Forsyth Tech students to travel by foot or by bicycle to Salem College and Winston-Salem State University.
The draft plan identifies crossings at Peters Creek Parkway and Silas Creek Parkway, along with conflicts with existing development, as “the greatest obstacles to construction” of the greenway. The proposed greenway received support from 89 percent of surveyed residents, with two thirds saying they would use the trail.
The proposed 1.7-mile Muddy Creek Greenway Phase 2 would connect Jefferson Elementary to Yadkinville Road on Winston-Salem’s west side.
The draft plan indicates that “some residents along Muddy Creek, particularly within the Brownstone neighborhood, expressed strong concerns about placing the greenway along the east side of the creek.”
“Muddy Creek Phase 2 a lot of the comment was, ‘If it’s on the west side I would be completely supportive,’” Crum told the planning board. “There’s one neighborhood that has been very, very vocal.”
Three out of four residents of the area indicated that they support greenway construction generally, but only 50 percent said they supported construction in their neighborhood, compared to 46 percent who said they were opposed. But two out of three said they would use the path.
The board meets next on April 12 at 4:30 p.m. in the public meeting room on the fifth floor of the Bryce A. Stuart Municipal Building, located at 100 E. 1st St. in Winston-Salem.