August 30, 2008

My Two Cents: Island Greenway Bike Trail and Carolina Beach Concrete Pier

Although everyone that I've spoken to on the island enthusiastically supports both of these projects, I know there is a minority that oppose these initiatives.

Let me start by saying I'm a HUGE supporter of the Island Greenway project. Having a trail that links both ends of the island would be a wonderful benefit for Island residents and visitors. For more information, check out the fantastic Island Greenway
website.

I enjoy bike riding, jogging and at times, in-line skating. I'm not the best in-line skater so I prefer to skate in areas that don't force me to compete with vehicles for space. And although the island has many wonderful neighborhood areas to cycle, there is not an easy way to get from one end to the other without getting on the main road bike lane (during the 'on' season, many refer to the bike lane as a traffic overflow lane). Having this trans-island trail option would help encourage people to get out of their cars and onto their bikes.

Also, having a 9.5 mile trail would entice people from Wilmington and surrounding area to visit the island for some exercise and fun. I would imagine that the entire Pleasure Island business community would welcome this new infusion of potential customers. This would not be just a summertime draw since the weather here is generally favorable for outdoor activities nearly all year round. Having this type of year round draw to our island would really help our business owners during the off season.

Now I understand that some of the opponents are concerned about having a trail in their backyards and fear increased crime. From my experience of living in other communities with a vibrant trail system, the opposite is true. Instead of having vacant woods deep in the back of ones property where one can lurk without any chance of being seen, bike trails bring out your neighbors who are quick to report anything suspicious. I would image that both Carolina Beach and Kure Beach would support having police officers patrol the area on bikes which would add a new police presence. And let's be honest, crime is not a rampant problem here on the island.

But in fairness to the residents who have backyard concerns, I strongly support both parties working towards a compromise that everyone can get behind. Hopefully, there is an easy solution that will appeal to all parties and we can move forward as a unified front.

One last comment, many potential home buyers see easy access to bike trails as a draw and those property values usually reflect that value. If one needs proof, check out the real estate adds by some of the apartments/properties near the new trail system by Mayfaire...they often tout that fact as an incentive.

I only hope that all of our elected leaders have the vision to see what a boost this project would be for our entire island. A chance like this to increase our quality of life doesn't come around often and I just hope the powers-to-be seize this opportunity and drive this project to reality.

As for the concrete pier, I'm dismayed that anyone would oppose this project. But after reading a letter to the editor in this weeks Island Gazette, I see there is some opposition. Specifically, the writer said that pursuing a "fishing" pier project was the "stupidest task they could undertake considering we have two within a 6-mile area."

First of all, the writer fails to understand that this is not solely a fishing pier; it is an
educational fishing pier and will have broad appeal to both fisherman and non-fisherman alike. The NC Aquarium pier and large pier house will be used for conservation workshops, school programs, science camps, research, etc. The fact that there are two wooden fishing piers within six miles of this proposed pier means that fisherman will be able to keep their elbow room while the Aquarium can pursue public education initiatives.

Also, the pier will be 1,000' in length and will be constructed with concrete pilings. The pier is being constructed to hold up to whatever mother nature may send its way.

I'm thrilled that the NC Aquariums are considering the Carolina Beach boardwalk area for their pier and hope that our elected leaders will do whatever they can to make the project a reality. This is good for our town...plain and simple.

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