Are greenways really green?

Recent news has featured a debate over Asheville's ambitious greenway plan, consisting of extensive construction along area waterways. The debate has focused primarily on individual landowners' rights versus public domain. But this misses the point.

The position of [city] Parks and Recreation [staff], and of the environmental consultants whom they use,  seems to be largely that a "greenway" is manicured grass and sidewalk similar to what one would see in an urban park. Taking this insensitive and heavy-handed approach to the few remaining patches of riverine forest here will result in the disappearance of birds, animals and even butterflies from those areas. It will increase erosion, degrade water quality and be bad for fish and amphibians. It will greatly detract from the outdoor experience that many of us outdoor enthusiasts, from hikers to cyclists to paddlers to fishermen, come here to enjoy. It will afflict Asheville with the same generic sameness that already poisons large areas of the country due to urban sprawl. It will waste money.

Who needs greenways like this? Just increase sidewalk construction along our city streets. And leave the rivers alone, if you can't design truly environmentally friendly trails and paths.

— Richard Lind
Asheville

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