City's greenway grows with new addition

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 9, 2011

By Emily Ford
SALISBURY — For Zach Brincefield and Jimmy Leone, the best thing about the newest section of the Salisbury Greenway isn’t the winding path, picturesque boardwalk or impressive bridge over Jump and Run Branch.
For these high school juniors, Grants Creek Greenway’s best attribute is the gas they save by not having to drive to it.
They just walk over from Brincefield’s house in Meadowbrook, where Forestdale Drive deadends into the greenway, and use it for exercise or as a shortcut to see friends in the Crescent, where the new greenway starts on Hogan’s Valley Way.
“It’s pretty cool,” Brincefield said. “It’s close to my house, so we don’t need to drive.”
Sunday afternoon, the friends were jogging on the 10-foot-wide asphalt path, about three-quarters of a mile long. Now open to the public, Grants Creek Greenway adds roughly 25 percent more paved path to the city’s greenway system.
The new section has no parking lot. People who drive to the greenway should park on the street at either end.
That worries Susan Ruggles, who lives right next to the entrance/exit on Forestdale Drive. While she wants others to enjoy the path she walks every day, she also wants to be able to get out of her driveway.
At peak use, the greenway likely will host four or five at either end, City Engineer Dan Mikkelson said. Street parking has not been a problem at the Prescott Greenway, he said, and parked cars can actually benefit a neighborhood by slowing down through traffic.
Ruggles said she sees deer on Grants Creek Greenway nearly every day. While construction made a mess for months, she said, “it came out much better than I ever thought it would. It’s so beautiful.”
The new section already has the reputation as the most scenic in the greenway system, which features six other named sections. Some sections are not connected, but the city has brochures with a map that shows how to get from one to another on sidewalks and streets.
The city won $500,000 in federal stimulus dollars for the Grants Creek Greenway.
“I really, really like it,” Mikkelson said. “The alignment meanders through the woods, so the view is constantly changing. It’s very attractive.”
City Planner Lynn Raker, who is a landscape architect, and City Engineer Patrick Ritchie walked the area before designing the greenway, Mikkelson said.
Their work was so good, “I wish there was a way to capture that in a design formula and share it with others,” Mikkelson said. “It’s an excellent example of engineering.”
The boardwalk takes walkers and cyclists over a marshy area, and the bridge crosses Jump and Run Branch, a tributary of Grants Creek.
The only sound other than bird calls and insects Sunday afternoon was a far-off whistle from lacrosse practice at Catawba College.
Brad Wentworth said he would love to see a bridge over Grants Creek connect the greenway to the college. He and Crystal Dickerson walked the path Sunday.
“It’s lovely, absolutely wonderful,” Dickerson said. “I like getting in the woods, and this is a really sane, easy way to do that.”
The city has about 3.1 miles of paved, 10-foot-wide greenway. By including sidewalks and residential streets that connect the greenway sections, the system totals almost 6 miles.
The city used grants to pay for the creation of a new comprehensive map of the greenway, which will be displayed at five kiosks on the Memorial Park, Prescott and Forest Hills sections.
The “zero” mile marker on the greenway system is at the Memorial Park cemetery. Sections include:
• Memorial Park
• Kelsey Scott
• Brenner Avenue
• Prescott
• Meadowbrook
• Forest Hills
• Grants Creek
Contact reporter Emily Ford at 704-797-4264.