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Little Sugar Creek Greenway

by Ruth Samuelson

February 3,2004

On the outskirts of the Center City, the Mecklenburg County Park & Recreation Department is transforming a century-old vision into a future hallmark of our community. For nearly 100 years, citizens of Charlotte have discussed creating a greenway trail along Little Sugar Creek, which flows just east of the Center City and on to South Carolina.

After decades of dreaming, and years of intense planning, we have taken the first steps towards realizing that dream and implementing that plan.

How could a simple walking trail along an indiscriminate creek capture the imagination of generations? The Little Sugar Creek Greenway produces the rare combination of economic development and environmental protection, recreation and education, neighborhood definition and community connectivity.

Along Kings Drive, the creek will return to its natural state as part of the greenway creation. Today, the stream is channeled under the Midtown Square parking lot and runs unnoticed behind businesses only accessible by traffic clogged Kings Drive. When complete, this area will be redeveloped with small shops, restaurants and cafés overlooking a naturally flowing creek.

Charlotte residents will be able to bike along the trail to shops, experiencing nature in the Center City. By restoring green buffers to creek banks, nature will filter the water entering the creek, thereby improving water quality. We will see a confluence of economic and environmental vibrancy that our community can embrace.

The Greenway will also define and connect neighborhoods. Each section of greenway will have unique attributes that distinguish communities from one another. The Greenway will be a source of pride for local neighborhoods. At the same time, the greenway will connect neighborhoods. Currently inaccessible or difficult to reach parks will be opened to a wider array of visitors.

We can easily imagine the opportunities opened to bicyclists, roller-bladders, joggers and walkers that this 15-mile trail will provide. Those opportunities will grow exponentially when the greenway eventually connects with hundreds of miles of greenway being developed by our neighbors in South Carolina and Gaston County. The Greenway will also provide educational value for children and adults alike. By partnering with Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools, the County will provide educational stations along the creek where people can learn about local history, public art and stream ecology. Combining recreation and education will be a hallmark of this project.

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