By Lexxi Bursey
Greenways are large, clear, undeveloped corridors for scenic use by the public. While they can be beneficial to the community in several ways, are they actually worth the funding it costs?
The new greenway plan, which has been undergoing planning since at least last year, would connect many areas such as Daleville, Buchanan, and other trails together to provide a linked community and other modes of travel for the communities it passes. However, this comes at a cost.
According to the Fincastle Herald, The Board of Supervisors held a public meeting to debate whether to designate a new section to the Comprehensive Plan, a section that received the endorsement of the Planning Commission previously. The newly proposed section titled, “Parks, Recreation, Greenways, and Blueways,” deals with the planning and the funding of the recreational facilities and programs in Botetourt County. This five year plan includes $2.15 million dollars worth of recommended projects to develop and to expand the recreation facilities and greenways within Botetourt County. Of this budget, $500,000 is proposed just for the development of the greenways for the next five years, according to the Fincastle Herald.
The downfalls to creating the new greenways relative to the cost are numerous. While there is the ADA, Americans with Disabilities Act, which places compliances that certain facilities must meet, several fall below the realities of disabled citizens being able to use them. The Greenfield Greenway located in Botetourt County is one of the most accessible scenic trails for handicapped citizens. Following the regular description of greenways, it is wide and clear cut, and relatively level as compared to hiking trails. This allows room for wheelchairs, however the path in itself is hardly, if at all, accessible in a wheelchair. One reason being a big section of the path contains loose gravel serving as the pathway.
Another problem greenways cause is the destruction of nature. The land used for greenways often is described as not being able to be developed, it still houses a variety of resources for wildlife. Beside the destruction of the natural land to create to create a greenway, there comes pollution with the use of the greenway. Noise pollution is unlikely to cause to a major problem, but it still is a factor. Litter is the main problem greenways face. Many local students have been to Roaring Run near Eagle Rock. As it has became more popular, the local trail has faced more and more pollution. From tires to diapers, to shoes, baggies, wrappers, and bottles, the scenery of Roaring Run has been diminished. The disruption of nature is also a factor in the creation of trails and greenways. While it is good to explore, hikers often go off the trail, creating damage and litter off of the site.
Scenic trails can also go forgotten as the younger population moves away and the remaining adults age. More specifically, There is a paved walking trail in Alleghany County that has experienced a loss of use and maintenance.
Greenways are not all bad news if used regularly so they are worth the financial, economical, and environmental costs. Greenways can increase the value of your home and your land, depending on where you live and the proximity of the greenway. Greenways are also a deterrent of traffic flow, providing a bike route and walking route to commute. This keeps some of the traffic from the roads and will give a safe corridor for the bikers to use. This is only true, however, if the greenways are in a centralized location which would allow for people to walk or to bike to places, unlike where we live. Greenways can also boost the local tourism and its economy by bringing in locals outside of their neighborhood and into the surrounding communities. This could potentially boost the economy by putting them near “hubs” of small businesses or shops.
The new greenway plan for our area has had several proposals for the location and connections, possible routes, and also attachments to other, bigger trails (like the A.T.). It is unsure where exactly the new greenway would be fixated through, but it is sure to eventually connect several of our local areas to other towns and areas. With the costs of greenways in mind, including all the impacts beyond financial, would a new greenway in our area be beneficial? Would the pros outweigh the cons and lead to success and maintenance of the greenway, or would it deteriorate over the years, never getting much use to begin with?