Wake County commissioners today voted to move forward with concept plans for three new nature preserves and the development of a future greenway.
“The open spaces and greenways in Wake County are second to none, and I’m so excited to provide even more outdoor opportunities for our residents and visitors,” said Sig Hutchinson, chair, Wake County Board of Commissioners. “In addition to recreation, open spaces and greenways help protect our water quality, support public health and encourage economic development. Simply put, they make our lives better.”
The board agreed to spend $200,000 of Parks, Greenways, Recreation and Open Space bond money to develop concept plans for three new nature preserves:
- Little River
- Buffalo Creek
- Swift Creek
Wake County Facilities, Design and Construction will hire consultants to help county staff lead partners and stakeholders through the concept planning process, which will focus on core programming ideas for each site. It should take four to six months to complete the plans.
Wake County began acquiring open space in 2000 with the goal of protecting and conserving land and water resources for current residents and future generations. To date, the county has acquired or assisted in the acquisition of 8,486 acres.
In 2013, the Board of Commissioners directed staff to establish public access at three of its open space areas — Robertson Millpond Preserve, Turnipseed Nature Preserve and Sandy Pines Preserve, which opened just last year.
The goal of these preserves is to allow public access, typically by focusing on one or two types of passive recreation, like horseback riding or kayaking. Preserves are minimally developed while protecting significant natural resources and/or habitats.
More information and maps of the new preserves can be found here.
Swift Creek Greenway
The board today also agreed to invest $3.5 million of Parks, Greenways, Recreation and Open Space funding in the design of the Swift Creek Greenway between Lake Wheeler and Lake Benson.
A greenway trail along Swift Creek has been discussed and planned for many years, with Wake County, Raleigh and Garner partnering on a master plan in 2006. The county updated the master plan in 2016.
Today’s decision by commissioners for Wake County to complete 100% of the design will make the project more “shovel-ready,” which could lead to future state or federal grant funding opportunities.
County staff will now work to select a consultant to lead the project through a Request for Qualifications. The design process is expected to take between 18 and 24 months.
Wake County’s commitment to constructing greenways goes back to 2011, when it partnered with the City of Raleigh to construct the Neuse River Greenway to benefit residents in both the incorporated and unincorporated areas of the county. Wake County has continued to partner with municipalities on greenway projects under the guidance of the Wake County Greenway System Plan, which strives to create a connected and comprehensive system of greenway trails that enhances quality of life throughout Wake County.