Buncombe County needs greenways! I say this from several perspectives.
First, I’m a runner. I love running, and I love to share that passion. The running bug bit me five years ago after a friend persuaded me to do the Turkey Trot 5K, held in Carrier Park. Although it had been 20 years since I ran competitively, I immediately started training, and I haven't looked back.
As the Asheville Track Club’s former president and current project manager, I deeply appreciate the importance of a cohesive greenway system. Three of our most popular training programs are held at Carrier Park, utilizing the French Broad River Greenway: the Beginning Runners Program (May-July), Fit Families Active Childcare Program (May-July) and the ongoing Carrier Park Runners (Tuesdays and Thursdays). Without that greenway, our runners would just be looping around a track instead of enjoying the beautiful natural environment along the French Broad River. A comprehensive greenway network would give all county residents more convenient opportunities for running and walking.
Second, I’m a mom. Greenways are a great asset for families wanting to spend time outside together. They’re a place to walk and talk; to teach your child to ride a bike; and, of course, to run. Greenways give our family various exercise options. Now that my son can ride a bike, we can exercise together: I run while he rides his bike. His sister may join us, either on a bike or on Rollerblades. We may end our day with a stroll on the Carrier Park chip trail, followed by a picnic in the expansive field.
Greenways offer families a variety of ways to spend quality time together without busting the budget: The only expense involved is for the gas it takes to drive to the greenway. Wouldn't it be terrific to have longer greenway systems linked together, making that driving unnecessary?
Lastly, I’m a Realtor, and greenways are great for real estate. Houses near greenways sell faster and for more money than similar homes in other locations. In a “Community Preference Survey” of more than 2,000 homebuyers conducted by the National Association of Home Builders and the National Association of Realtors, walking/jogging/bike trails ranked second on the "important to very important amenity” list — only highway access scored higher.
This was not a fluke: Trails are consistently among the top five “important amenities affecting purchase decisions,” the survey reports. And 56 percent of respondents favored walkable, bikeable neighborhoods over those requiring more driving between home, work and recreation. Walkable communities are defined as those having shops, restaurants and local businesses within walking distance of residential areas.
Furthermore, 77 percent of respondents said they would look for neighborhoods with abundant sidewalks and trails when considering a home purchase, and 50 percent said they’d like to see improvements to existing public transportation rather than initiatives to build new roads and subdivisions.
As you may be aware, Buncombe County is working on a Greenways Master Plan right now. I urge you to support their efforts during the planning process. Visit their website at www.buncombecounty.org/connect. Participate in the "Greenways, Please" photo campaign. Take the time to attend one of their public meetings this May. These greenways are for us: Let's make them ours!
— Local Realtor Kelly Allen is project manager for the Asheville Track Club.