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Progress is being Made to Acquire Land for Steele Creek Greenways

(August 20, 2005) The Steele Creek Community Trail Committee, the Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation Department, the Mecklenburg County Real Estate Services, and local property owners have been working together to acquire properties and easements along Steele Creek and Walkers Branch for greenway trails.

The county's Master Greenway Plan includes routes along Steele Creek and Walkers
Branch. The Steele Creek Greenway runs almost 5 miles along Steele Creek from the
Steele Creek Neighbor- hood Park (across from the schools north of Brown Grier
Road) to the South Carolina state line. The Walkers Branch Greenway runs
approxi- mately 2 and a half miles along Walkers Branch from Steele Creek Road
(Highway 160) down to Steele Creek at the state line. Trails along these greenways are part of a larger vision of trails following stream beds, utility rights-of-way, parklands, and neighborhood greenways throughout Steele Creek.
(See MAP.)

The county already owns land along the Steele Creek route north of Red Hickory Lane. Property owners along most of the remainder of the route have agreed to donate easements for the greenway trail. A few are still in the discussion stage.

Gwen Cook, Greenway Planner with Mecklenburg County Parks Department, has walked
most of the Steele Creek trail and determined the general route.

A greenway corridor typically needs to be at least 50 feet wide. For most of its route, the Steele Creek Trail will follow the sewer easement adjacent to the creek. The trail must be set back from the creek about 30 feet and cannot pass through wetlands unless mitigation occurs. Mitigation means that wetlands must be restored, created, or enhanced elsewhere to compensate for any wetlands damaged by construction of a trail or other development.

Supporters continue to work with property owners and hope eventually to acquire rights to the entire Steele Creek Route.

Key property owners along the Walkers Branch route also have offered support. However, this route passes through a number of residential lots, and the eventual trail may not be continuous.

Developers have donated or committed to donate land or easements on a number of tributaries to Walkers Branch. So progress also is being made on additional trails through the community.

Surveys along five properties on the Steele Creek route and two on the Walkers Branch are ready to go. The Parks Department staff will work with Mecklenburg County Legal Services to define and acquire rights to easements there.

Once easements are established, volunteers can--and will--clear vegetation along portions of the route and create primitive trails that will be available for walking or biking.

Donate to the Steele Creek Community Trail through
        Partners for Parks
        PO Box 411371
        Charlotte, NC 28241
Be sure to designate "Steele Creek Community Trail" with your donation.

The trails eventually will be 10 feet wide and paved with asphalt, but before that can occur, the county will notify nearby residents and community organizations that a trail is coming and give them an opportunity for input on the design of the trail through public meetings and workshops.

No funding currently is earmarked specifically for constructing the Steele Creek and Walkers Branch Greenway Trails, but support for the trails is strong and the supporters are optimistic funding can be identified when needed.

These greenways are just the beginning of a grand vision for trails in Steele Creek. They will be a major amenity for the community and provide opportunities for healthy activities as well as easy access from residential areas to shopping, schools, employment, parks, the library, and other key locations.

Efforts also are underway to build trails in South Carolina that will connect to Steele Creek at the state line. These will provide access to the South Carolina Welcome Center on I-77, the Ann Springs Close Greenway, and other sites in the Fort Mill and Tega Cay areas.

If you support the trail efforts, please join your neighbors at the monthly meeting of the Steele Creek Community Trail Committee, which meets every 3rd Thursday at 7:00 at the Steele Creek Athletic Association Community House at 13350 Choate Circle.

For more information, visit the Steele Creek Community Trail web site or see the Steele Creek Community Trail Questions and Answers.

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