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An Emerald Necklace for Charlotte

by Dennis Marsoun

February 3,2004

Whenever I visit my Mom in Cleveland, I always take a run through part of the Emerald Necklace or system of parks that gird the city.

Big Creek Park is the nearest entrance to where my Mom lives. The trail in that area is about three or four miles long, following the creek, and connecting to green spaces and picnic areas along the way. The trail is probably no more that fifty feet from a busy road, but the path is quiet, and you can hear the rush of water in the creek as it goes through the bends over the rocks.

As a kid growing up, I remember trying to catch gold fish in the running waters with no luck. Now, the path supports joggers, bicyclists, walkers, lovers, dogs and children.

Meanwhile, back in Charlotte, we move forward on the Little Sugar Creek Greenway. Have you ever been down there? There is a section that is completed just north of the Brookshire Freeway paralleling Davidson Street. I normally pick it up by Parkland Road. It scares my wife that I run there, but I have never had a problem, and the run is beautiful – just like in Cleveland!

Little Sugar Creek gets kind of lost as it nears Uptown. Parts of it are buried as it goes under Freeway ramps, and some of it is hidden behind a CPCC parking lot. It emerges briefly, only to go underground again as it winds beneath MidTown Plaza. From there it moves past the hospital, and through Freedom Park, on its way to South Carolina.

Imagine for a minute what it could be like with some changes to the Belk Freeway. Let’s say t h a t Independence becomes the connector that would link Wilkinson Boulevard with Route 74. Let’s take down that section of the Freeway that runs behind Adams Mark, the Sheridan Four Points, Great Aunt Stella’s, and return that land to a valley with Little Sugar Creek running through the middle. Some visions of the growth of Charlotte in the 2025 Plan look to relocate that section of the Freeway. Let’s make it sooner.

If that section of he Freeway is gone, PCC becomes part of the City. The recreational area that would develop would bring people out much like rant Park in Chicago. Why, I can imagine that parts of the creek can be made deep enough to actually have some “river traffic” on it – much like Riverwalk in San Antonio.

Little Sugar Creek is a work in progress. Let’s help it progress!

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