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Key dates in Henderson County’s greenway efforts

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• 1894: Henderson and Brevard Railway, Telegraph and Telephone Co. builds rail line between Hendersonville to Brevard.
• 1939: Ecusta paper mill opens in Pisgah Forest.
• May 1994: Greenway advocates form group to discuss joint greenway planning with the city of Hendersonville and Henderson County.
• June 1997: Endorsed by the county, Flat Rock, Fletcher, Laurel Park and the Environmental Conservation Organization, city of Hendersonville receives National Park Service guidance to develop a countywide greenway plan.
• March 1999: The Local Government Committee for Cooperative Action (made up of Henderson County and its municipalities) and the newly formed Greenways Steering Committee hear from a national greenways expert.
• October-December 1999: After adopting an interlocal agreement, the county and cities form the Apple Country Greenways Commission.
• July 2001: Greenways Commission unveils a countywide plan. Criticized as too ambitious, the blueprint draws fire from property rights advocates.
• 2002: Ecusta mill closes. Norfolk Southern stops operating the Hendersonville-Brevard line.
• October 2004: Phase I of the city’s Oklawaha Greenway opens.
• 2005: Board of Commissioners endorses a greenways master plan and adds it to the county’s 2020 comprehensive land-use plan.
• 2009: Phase II extends Oklawaha Greenway from Seventh Avenue to Patton Park.
• April 2010: Steering committee advocating for the 19-mile Hendersonville-Brevard greenway forms Friends of Ecusta Trail.
• 2011: Interlocal agreement creating the Apple Country Greenways Commission expires and is not renewed.
• March 2012: An economic impact analysis commissioned by the Hendersonville City Council projects that the Ecusta Trail would cost $20 million to build and generate $9.4 million a year in tax revenue, visitor spending, health care cost savings and property appreciation.
• 2012: Don Schjeldahl, a site selection consultant who helped Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. choose Mills River for its
East Coast plant, forms a group of stakeholders to explore a French Broad River greenway and blueway connecting Hendersonville
and Asheville.
• June 2014: Mills River Town Council endorses study for a separated bikeway along N.C. 280 from the French Broad River to Pisgah Forest.
• Summer 2014: Watco buys 92 miles of train line from Norfolk Southern Railway, including the Hendersonville-to-Brevard line and Asheville-to-Hendersonville line.
• November 2015: Board of Commissioners directs planning staff to identify a greenway path through Jackson Park, opening the possibility of a southern extension of the Oklawaha Greenway to BRCC.
• 2016: Steering group forms Friends of the Oklawaha Greenway to advocate for the bike-ped path extension.
• August 2016: City officially opens Phase III extending the Oklawaha Greenway to Berkeley Mills Park.
• September 2016: Board of Commissioners rejects a recommended greenway route through Jackson Park that would eliminate parking spaces at a picnic area. The board orders planners to find another route.
• December 2016: Mills River Town Council reviews NCDOT proposal for N.C. 191 widening project that includes 4-foot bike lanes (not separated).
• February 2017: Commissioners direct the planning department and recreation department to begin work on a greenways master plan and seek grants for possible southern and northern extensions of the Oklawaha Greenway.
• April-May 2017: Saluda, Tryon and Landrum endorse effort for a Saluda Grade rail-to-trail greenway from Saluda to Landrum.
• May 2017: Henderson County wins grants worth $96,000 to study extensions of the Oklawaha Greenway from Berkeley Mills to Westfeldt Park and from Jackson Park to BRCC, the Park at Flat Rock on Highland Lake Road and the county Athletics and Activities Center on South Grove Street.
• June 2017: Flat Rock Village Council meets with NCDOT to discuss plans for a greenway through the Park at Flat Rock as part of the widening of Highland Lake Road in 2022.
• Under way: Consulting engineers are developing bike-ped studies for Hendersonville, Laurel Park and Flat Rock, all of which received NCDOT planning grants. Mills River, Transylvania County and the Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy are holding public drop-in sessions to gather input and gauge support for a greenway along N.C. 280 from the French Broad River to Brevard. Henderson County is hiring a consultant to look at Oklawaha Greenway extensions while staff is developing the greenway master plan.

SOURCES: Apple Country Greenway Commission master plan, Ecusta Trail planning study, Friends of the Oklawaha Greenway, news coverage, interviews.