March 31, 2015

Cleveland supports Carolina Thread Trail

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 5, 2013

CLEVELAND — Town commissioners said Monday that they’re interested in being part of a multi-county greenway trail, even if Rowan County is not.
The Cleveland Board of Commissioners unanimously passed a resolution of support at its Monday meeting for the Carolina Thread Trail. The town isn’t committing any town funds or other resources to the project just yet, though.
Randi Gates, a representative from the thread trail project, simply asked commissioners to show support for the idea.
She also invited interested officials and town residents to attend an organizational meeting Wednesday afternoon in Spencer. There, community representatives will talk about potential trail locations and other planning ideas.
Catawba Lands Conservancy and Foundation for the Carolinas partnered to create the Carolina Thread Trail (The Thread) in 2005.
“It’s a vision to connect 15 counties with greenways, trails and open space,” Gates said. “It will be 11 counties in North Carolina, four counties in South Carolina and ultimately touching over 2.3 million people once it is built out.”
Gates said The Thread has awarded planning grants to 14 out of 15 counties, and Rowan is the last to go through the planning process.
The Rowan County Board of Commissioners rejected the project in May 2009, voicing concerns about the costs of maintenance and law enforcement. They also said they were worried about the potential use of eminent domain, or government seizure of private property.
The Thread does not support using the power of eminent domain for this project, Gates said. She said it would instead try to find property owners who will voluntarily offer use of their land to local governments. If some owners don’t want to participate, it would either find a way to work around them or stall that piece of the trail.
Gates said most of the communities within Rowan County have expressed their support.
“Normally we like to have the county on board as well, but we don’t want to hold back the communities in Rowan… from being able to use our funding to tap into other funding,” she said.
Gates said Cleveland can apply for planning and implementation grants through The Thread. The town also can raise its chances of getting funding from other sources if it applies as a part of a regional project, she said.
“Can you still adopt a plan for somebody that’s sitting way out in the middle of nowhere, like we are?” said Mayor Pro Tem Danny Gabriel.
Gates said each community in Rowan would end up with a plan that could not only be used for the Carolina Thread Trail, but also to plan any local trails to connect destinations within a community.
“If the county doesn’t decide to participate, we are going to plan routes in all of its communities in the hopes that one day, the county will step up and decide to connect the dots,” she said.
Depending on the location, these routes could be paved trails, natural surface trails, sidewalks and bike lanes or paths alongside abandoned rail corridors. They would be used for non-motorized travel like hiking, bicycling and possibly horseback riding.
Each county’s trails would connect at their borders, but the counties can shape the trails within their borders any way they’d like, Gates said.
Commissioner Mary Frank Fleming-Adkins asked who would be responsible for maintaining the trails.
That responsibility would fall on the communities that own them, Gates answered. She said the trails often run along property that’s already publicly maintained, like existing sidewalks or parks.
Fleming-Adkins moved to approve the resolution of support, and Commissioner Pat Phifer seconded. It was approved unanimously.
“I think it’s a great idea,” Fleming-Adkins said after the meeting. “If Rowan County is not interested, that doesn’t mean anything. We’re pretty close to Iredell County, anyway.”
Contact reporter Karissa Minn at 704-797-4222.