City embarks on ambitious Urban Greenway plan

Salisbury leaders have resurrected a 51-year-old plan, conceived but never implemented, to build an attractively landscaped, well-lit pathway for walkers and bikers.

Designed to connect the city from east to west, the 11-phase Urban Greenway Plan will further improve the quality of life in the growing city at a cost of $14.5 million.

It’s another way to “roll out the red carpet for our citizens,” Mayor Jake Day said.

The Salisbury City Council will discuss the plan at its Feb. 6 meeting.

Nine miles of paths will span more than six miles of the city. Beginning at Pemberton Park, it will continue to the Salisbury Marina, run parallel to the Wicomico River and connect the Salisbury Riverwalk, City Park, zoo, bike trails, Skate Park, Ward Museum of Wildfowl Art and Parkside High School.

The path will end at Schumaker Park.

“As a Sustainable Maryland Certified City, being environmentally conscious is obviously very important to us,” Day said.

“By encouraging alternative methods of transportation such as bicycling and walking, we’re hoping to give citizens ways to reduce automobile emissions and lower gas consumption, while allowing them to simultaneously get out and enjoy the great outdoors.

“The Urban Greenway will enhance the quality of life for those living in and around the city, and that leads to people and businesses wanting to locate here, which means higher property values, more jobs, more prosperity,” he stated.

He quoted a National Homebuilders Association study that indicated communities with good access to bike facilities have an 11 percent increase in property values.

For every $1 million invested in bike lanes, 14 jobs are created, twice the number of jobs created by roadway projects.

Day also cited recreational opportunities that will increase tourism and attract runners, bikers, kayakers, stand-up paddleboard enthusiasts and dog walkers.

“This is an idea which was first proposed in the 1960s, and now, with the help of the Council, it’s happening. This is definitely going to be a case of good things coming to those who wait,” Day said.

“The more we do that, the more likely we are to see a personal return for the people — not a return to government, not a financial return to the city, but to the people — who live here and the people who invest here,” Day told the Salisbury Independent.

“In the last few months and in the coming few weeks you’ll see us adopt a Bike Master Plan, a Zoo Master Plan, a Downtown and a City Master Plan, an Urban Greenway Plan, a Rail Trail Corridor Plan and many other plans that are all geared toward making the quality of life the best of any small city in America.” Day said.

“If you look at cities that have found absolute, unquestionable success, it’s been through investments like this. It all stems from our Downtown Masterplan,” he said.

“It’s the great equalizer. Everybody has got the ability to use a trail. When people are biking and hiking, you’re more likely to see those who can’t afford to spend a lot of money on gas, for example,” the mayor said.

In 1977, a portion of the plan, Riverwalk, was built. In the early 1980s another part was constructed, the Urban Greenway through the park. But Day said neither meets today’s standards.

“Greenway will be built in 11 phases of work, eight which are in city limits entirely, one which is 95 percent out of the limits and two that have portions in and out. The first eight are things we want to do in the near future,” the mayor said.

“As we invest in the quality of life, new families, young families, will invest in us. That is what we’re seeing already. That is the primary thing,” Day said.

Although there is no target date for completion, Day said he will propose in the City’s five-year Capital Improvement Plan that six of the 11 phases be completed in the next five years.

“There would be two other phases that, maybe in year six and seven, we would want to complete,” he said.

Once planning and engineering studies are finished, construction could begin in mid-2018.

Projected direct benefits, outlined in a lengthy, detailed document reviewed by the Salisbury City Council, include using the pathways to save fuel and spend less for vehicle maintenance.

“Salisbury can expect that the Greenway will improve tourism, increase business growth and generate revenue through special events. Precedents from across the United States display similar economic improvements,” the document states.

Trails through cities have influenced businesses’ decisions to expand and business owners have enjoyed economic boosts, as bikers stop to buy beverages and food or to shop.

Phase I of the Greenway Plan will be at Riverwalk, at a cost of $1.5 million.

This phase will focus on Downtown along the river. A half-mile segment will start on the western edge at the intersection of West Main Street and West Market Street and extend to Salisbury Boulevard and East Market Street on the east. The route will include a 6-foot wide ADA compliant sidewalk, the document explains.

Phase 1 will continue along the north side of the river with a pedestrian’s walkway to Circle Avenue.

The sidewalk will connect to a 10-foot wide path between the parking lot and shoreline. The path will connect to the existing 8-foot wide stamped concrete path, proposed to be widened to 12-feet to accommodate pedestrians during festivals and as downtown development occurs.

Phase 2, at a cost of $699,125, will be the south connection and focus on expanding the Greenway parallel to the Wicomico River along the south side and connecting to City Park for about half a mile.

Phase 3, at a cost of $459,830, is the north connection.

Phase 4, at a total cost of $527,200, will be at the marina.

Proposed at West Main Street and Small Street is a 10-foot wide path for pedestrians and cyclists. Pedestrians already use the route along the Port of Salisbury Marina, where a 10-foot wide path is proposed to connect to the existing concrete path, according to the document.

Phase 5, at a cost of $1.9 million, will provide safe routes to school.

Phase 6, at a total cost of $3,805,300, will be in the Pemberton Drive area.

Phase 7, at a cost of $656,500, will be the historic connection, with access to hiking trails.

Phase 8, at a cost of $1.2 million, will be at City Park.

There are trails at City Park on the north side of the river. The Greenway will provide a 10-foot wide, asphalt path along the north and south sides of Park Lane and connect existing paths.

Phase 9, costing $1.6 million, will extend from the zoo to the Ward Museum.

Currently, the zoo is accessible through the trails in City Park. The Greenway will connect to the zoo, but not through it. It will connect to the Ward Museum, where there is a natural trail and access to Schumaker Pond.

Phase 10, costing $1.2 million, will be at Schumaker Pond.

The Greenway will connect the park along a 10-foot wide path parallel to Schumaker Drive and end on the east edge of Salisbury, along the path at Mallard Landing, according to the document.

Phase 11, costing $1.7 million, will be at North Park Drive. A path will complete the loop around the bodies of water that run east to west and be about a mile of new asphalt pathway.

 

Reach Susan Canfora at scanfora@newszap.com.

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