October 15, 2008

StarNews Letter to the Editor Re Island Greenway

Editor: Before writing an opinion on something, you might want to get all the facts first. You apparently did not attend the Town of Carolina Beach's meeting concerning the proposed bike path. If you did, you would have known that the "sticking point," as you wrote, was not just that the path would be a little too close to their homes, the trash, crime and noise.

The major "sticking point" is the "Bridge to Nowhere" aspect of it. Just because there is some county money available to build this bike path doesn't mean we have to.

How will the upkeep of this bike path be paid for?

Did anyone know how much, after it is built, it will cost per month to maintain it? Of the 200 or so people at this meeting, maybe a dozen of them were actual bike riders and no one had the answers to the cost-maintenance questions. ...

Fiscal responsibility! Let's pave the roads everyone drives on instead of a bike trail for, to be generous, four dozen bicyclists.

J.A. Stanton
Carolina Beach

To be honest, I can only shake my head at this letter. I pondered why someone would be opposed to a community bike trail? Why someone would be against adding a new tourist draw thus bringing new visitors to the island to shop at our stores and dine at our restaurants. Why someone would be opposed to having neighbors explore the other side of the island without fear of getting plowed over by traffic along the way? Why someone would not want to decrease traffic by linking local attractions with multi-use trails? I just can't understand why someone would not want to decrease the amount of cars on our island roads???

Now I could jump to conclusions and think that because the writer is a GM at a local auto dealership, he is inclined to reject any proposal that decreases vehicle usage, but I won't. I will take his concerns at face value.

To address his question about the cost of maintaining trails, I did a little research and found this 2006
planning document from the Thurston Regional Planning Council in Olympia, Washington. For their multi-use trails, it cost them $3,900 a year per mile to maintain their paths. However, judging from the reported weather factors, their trails undergo a significant amount of weather stress thus causing higher maintenance cost. As for additional maintenance cost, they estimated that the muliti-use trail asphalt needs to be resurfaced every seven to ten years.

As for the authors trash concerns, you just put some waste receptacles in prominent areas and task public works with servicing the receptacles. I really don't recall the trails that I've used in the past having litter issues. Most people that use outdoor trails are respectful of the environment and I'm sure Pleasure Island residents would be no different. But if not, I'm sure folks would be willing to volunteer to help maintain the trails when needed.

As for crime, let's be honest and realize that the crime rate on Pleasure Island is low. Neighbors look after neighbors and the bike trail would have plenty of eyes using the trail who would quickly notify authorities if there was any form of trouble. Local police and lifeguards also have the use of 4 wheelers which could be used to patrol the trails and I'm sure the local PD would be willing to occasionally have officers on bike patrol as well. I honestly just don't see crime as legitimate argument to oppose this trail system.

As for the cost, yup it will cost taxpayers some money. But like all recreation projects, we have to ask is it worth it? Virtually every beach community I have ever visited has put a premium on their multi use trails, why should Pleasure Island be any different? Visitors come to the beach to be outdoors, they want to park the car and head out on foot or on bicycles. Resident's live on islands for the same reasons. They want the sense of community where one can easily navigate and get around without traffic worries.

Why not explore new options for residents to safely navigate our island? Why not invest in a trail system that would appeal to residents from across the bridge as well as appeal to summer tourist? Why not create a new island attraction? If if one doesn't think a multi use trail would be a draw, just take a look at the 2.5 mile loop at Wrightsville Beach. (Judging by all these Google hits, it appears WB makes very good use of their multi use path.)

The trail being proposed for our island would truly become a draw for the entire Wilmington community. New folks coming for a visit...I'm sure our local business owners wouldn't mind one bit.

For more information, please visit the Island Greenway website.

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