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Greenway to connect Farmville, beyond


The Farmville Enterprise

Friday, February 23, 2018

FARMVILLE — Farmville officials endorsed a project to create a greenway throughout the town at a Board of Commissioners retreat this week.

For the past year, Farmville commissioner Jamin Dixon, Farmville Parks and Recreation director Matt Johnston, Farmville Public Library director David Miller and avid cyclist Steven Hardy-Braz have been working on the project to "connect Farmville and beyond."

In 2014, the town of Farmville created a pedestrian master plan, a road map to create healthy environments and recreation choices through accessibility to greenways, sidewalks and more.

Within the master plan is a recommended three-mile greenway that would start behind Farmville schools and run along May Boulevard to the Food Lion shopping center and Planter's Walk subdivision. Pitt County also has a master plan that includes a greenway that stretches around the town, connecting to neighborhoods, parks and the schools.

The four men researched hiring a consulting firm to create a design plan for the greenway, which would then be used to apply for grant funds. Hiring a firm was estimated to cost $30,000, according to Miller.

The men reached out to East Carolina University's urban planning department and public administration department. Students within each area of study, with the guidance of a professor, are willing to assist with the plan's development at no cost to the town, Miller said.

The project will provide real world-experience for the students, he said.

The greenway can created in phases, said Dan Hemme, a student at East Carolina University. The team believes starting with a one-mile greenway from Farmville Central High School's softball field to the pond at Oliver Murphrey Park would be ideal. Phase II would extend the greenway to the Food Lion shopping center and remaining phases could complete the loop around the town, Hemme said.

The team believes starting the greenway near the schools is essential to tap into Safe Routes to Schools funding opportunities, Hemme said.

Farmville Parks and Recreation can benefit greatly from a greenway, Johnston said. The greenway will connect the town's parks and provide an opportunity to offer non-traditional recreation programs, like a running club, he said.

The greenways also will provide accessibility, especially to the approximately 15 percent of residents who do not own a vehicle, Hardy-Braz said.

"The town has a pedestrian and bike plan. We want to keep it alive, and make sure our town is accessible. We have a moral responsibility to make sure (accessibility) is safe," he said.

The East Carolina University students will develop the master greenway plan, along with designs and cost estimates. They will also conduct several public input sessions to get feedback from residents.

A professional engineer will need to assist to develop the feasibility and environmental study, so the team requested a $7,500 allocation to cover this cost.

"This provides an educational opportunity for the students and is less expensive to the town. The professional engineer will provide details like cement depth and how to cut around sewer easements," Hardy-Braz said, adding this approach is estimated to save the town $25,000.

The students anticipate creating the master plan within six months.

Commissioner John Moore supports the project, but requested approval of the $7,500 be delayed until the March 5 commissioners meeting to allow him time to talk to county, state and Vidant representatives.

"I want to hear we have support from other resources first," Moore said.

Dixon said, “I’m comfortable waiting until March. I have been apart of this project for awhile. I encourage you to talk to the students. We are getting a great bargain with an above-average group of kids."

Dixon made a motion to approve a partnership between the town and East Carolina University to create the greenway plan, which passed unanimously.

Commissioners will further discuss funding allocations next month.

The Farmville Enterprise serves western Pitt County including the towns of Falkland, Farmville and Fountain.