Free Daily Headlines

News

Set your text size: A A A

County takes tentative step toward greenway

Green line shows the existing Oklawaha Greenway, purple line shows extension to Berkeley Park, under construction; and dotted greenline shows proposed Jackson Park to BRCC leg.  Green line shows the existing Oklawaha Greenway, purple line shows extension to Berkeley Park, under construction; and dotted greenline shows proposed Jackson Park to BRCC leg.

Treading cautiously toward a commitment for a greenway extension, the Henderson County Board of Commissioners directed the county staff to look at running a bike and pedestrian trail through Jackson Park.

The board’s action was a small first step but a significant one. Jackson Park would be the midpoint of a central greenway running from Berkeley Park to Blue Ridge Community College. The Oklawaha Greenway extension from North Main Street to Berkeley Park is already under construction; the Jackson Park to BRCC segment is a line on a map following a sewer line easement.

“I think it’s important to emphasize that this is nothing more than talking about it right now,” Blue Ridge Bicycle Club President Joe Sanders said after the meeting. “We’re asking, ‘What’s the next step?’ Nothing is shovel ready.”

Sanders had no cost estimates for the extending the Oklawaha Greenway a mile and a half from Jackson Park to BRCC nor did he say what sources might be used other than the French Broad MPO, which channels state and federal transportation money to local communities.

Even so, commissioners said yes to at least exploring a greenway through Jackson Park.

“If we could get all that hooked up as well as the leg over to BRCC I think it would be a great asset to the county,” said Commissioner Grady Hawkins. “One area is safety. I would hope if we’re able to bring this plan about that it would offer enough for bikers to get off the highway. Staff would look at what we might need to do make this come about.”

While he “wholeheartedly” supports the idea, Commissioner Bill Lapsley cautioned that the county ought to notify property owners about any proposed plans.

“If I was a property owner along this route and I see this in the newspaper tomorrow I’d be a little concerned that the county was going to do something to impact my property without the knowledge of what was going on,” he said. “I was personally involved (as an engineer) in the design and construction of that sewer line in the late 1980s and was involved with the right of way acquisition. Clearly there was no discussion with property owners about any other use of the property.”

Sanders narrated a slide presentation showing three proposed segments: Jackson Park to New Hope Road, 1,970 feet; New Hope Road to Airport Road, 3,450 feet; and Airport Road to BRCC, 2,750 feet. The route includes two stream crossings and wide patches of floodplain. Connecting to the 3.6-mile Jackson Park to Berkeley Park greenway, the whole greenway would be about 5½ miles. A segment could be added, too, from BRCC to the Park at Flat Rock.

“There is support growing for connectivity in the county,” Sanders said. He pointed out that the city of Hendersonville received a $50,000 grant from NCDOT to conduct a comprehensive bicycle-pedestrian study and both laurel Park and Flat Rock have applied for bike-pedestrian study grants.