Thanks to WFMY-News 2 for this piece on Tuesdays at the Trailhead. We hope to see everyone there soon! Click here for more information about Free Fitness on the Greenway.
My name is Bri Simpson, and I’m originally from Seattle, Washington, actually a little bit south of Seattle, in Tacoma. I moved to North Carolina about 18 months ago, initially to Asheville for work with REI. Just recently, about two months ago, I moved to Greensboro to take the manager position at the REI store here. I did a lot of research on Greensboro when I applied for the job here. I have seen greenways, but I’m really, really impressed with the greenways here. I think that they have a great long-term plan, and they have groups and organizations in place to make that plan a reality—a reality in a pretty reasonable amount of time! I think when you get the community involved in a project like this, it’s not just one or two people that have to be really invested in it. It seems that a lot of the community has been invested in the Greenway—with the art pieces and with the excitement around it. And that’s probably one of the reasons why these greenways that they’re looking to connect and this master plan is going to become a reality. Talk to anybody in the area, and they are familiar with the Greenway. They know the Greenway, and they’re excited for it to be completed. A lot of people are already using it prior to completion. I think when you get the entire community involved in a project like this and local businesses, then it is going to be successful. And you know it’s going to be successful because it’s not just one or two people with a big idea—it’s a lot of people who are in this idea.
David Phlegar Stormwater Manager for the Divisions of Water Resources City of Greensboro No more gutters here! Tree boxes, also known as tree wells, installed on the Downtown Greenway sidewalk near the Greenway at Fisher Park Apartments contain a special soil treatment to treat the dirty rainwater running off of Smith Street and surrounding streets, says David Phlegar, Stormwater Manager for the Division of Water Resources in Greensboro, NC. "It's one of the first places downtown that you'll see an example like this," Phelgar says. "It's a lot easier to come in up-front in the planning and construction stages to do this, as opposed to after the fact. We worked with the Downtown Greenway to comply with some of the future Jordan Lake Rules for nutrient management, as well as our regular storm water regulations to improve our water quality." More tree wells and other projects, such as creating alternatives to impervious parking lots, will be appearing around town. To learn more, visit the city's Water Resource website at www.greensboro-nc.gov. Q & A: Learn how changing rules at Jordan Lake are affecting Greensboro's storm water management program.
My name is Bri Simpson, and I’m originally from Seattle, Washington, actually a little bit south of Seattle, in Tacoma. When I moved here, I was looking specifically for an apartment building of some kind. I really wanted some of the amenities, so not just the location was important to me. I also wanted to make it really feel like home, and be in a place that I could live in for not just a year or a couple of years, so I could really establish a home here. This location has all sorts of things: the pool, the stadium, workout facilities. In addition, it’s a little bit out of downtown so I still get to go downtown and have the downtown vibe. I like the Fisher Park neighborhood. It offers a little bit more nature than being right downtown. Throughout my 11 years with REI, I’ve pretty much tried everything that we have to offer—being out west with people who take part in mountaineering and a lot of the snow sports. Then moving out here, I got into biking in Asheville. Asheville is a huge bike community, so when I moved to Greensboro there were some things that I really looked at. The trails are close by. It has a lot to offer as far as mountain biking and hiking trails. And the Greenway was something that I really appreciated—being able to go out my back door and jump on the Greenway for a ride or to commute to work. One of the things that drew me to this location was being literally right on the Downtown Greenway. It’s also very, very close to the green that went to REI. So essentially, I can ride my bike or run to Friendly Center and be right at work in a really easy amount of time. It makes the commute a lot easier and a lot more enjoyable than my commute in Nashville.
My name is Scott Neely, and I live in downtown Greensboro in the south side district. Aside from being a youth and arts director, I’m finishing my post-graduate certificate in Sustainable Community Planning and Design from Boston Architectural College. One of the things that caught my eye with the Downtown Greenway project was the Greenway at Fisher Park being developed along Smith Street. I noticed the curbs and the sunken area...and I thought that looked a little different than what we normally see. Putting two and two together with what I’ve been studying, I immediately thought that it had to be a sustainable rain garden—and I was really excited about that! In truth, we are really good at paving things. We actually need to have a little bit of a concrete diet in our lifestyle. The importance of this rain garden is that it catches the water without it running off into the storm drains, especially when we experience a heavy storm. Storm drains can overflow in major rains, so when it overflows it can create flooding and water pollution. Also when water hits an impervious surface, it can run for miles and collect a bunch of pollutants along the way. Sustainability is not just a trend. It’s here to stay, and it’s what we all need to start thinking about as we move forward.
Dabney Sanders: We knew from the early planning stages for the Downtown Greenway that we wanted public art to be a major component of this 4-mile loop, and we are using North Carolina artists to create benches, much like the bench that I am sitting on now, here in Morehead Park. The process to select artists involves submitting their qualifications and examples of prior work. Then we select the artist and ask that they come to Greensboro, meet with the neighborhoods, learn the neighborhood vision as well as its history, and then create a proposal for a bench that reflects the area. We have commissioned three artists to date, and two of those artist benches have been installed. The first one is a bench called Five Points that Gary Gresko from Oriental, North Carolina, designed. It reflects the history of the Warnersville neighborhood, which is a fascinating history that many people in Greensboro are not aware of. So, we are pleased to be able to tell that story as people enjoy and use the Greenway. Gary Gresko: These are glacial boulders dug up right out of this site to represent the bedrock of this community and the beginning of the Greenway project. So there are five boulders placed here, one behind each bench—each a symbol representing the community. Xandra Eden: There is a nice kind of open communication in all aspects of moving toward this project because the idea is we want this Greenway to be loved, appreciated, and used by the neighborhoods that are nearby—not just plopped down out of nowhere. We want the benches to be a part of each community. The best approach is to communicate with each community and make sure that the bench is something they are going to love, and that will enrich their lives. Dabney Sanders: The bench that I am sitting on now is called Inside/Out, created by Ben Kastner and Toby Keeton from Wilmington, North Carolina. In this particular area,we did not have a neighborhood in exactly the same way that we had in Warnersville. So we did look at history, and this area where we are sitting had originally been a part of Governor John Motley Morehead’s property—a large property that has now been whittled down to just a few acres. His home was Blandwood, which sits about a half block away from us. And we looked at the fact that this had been called the Morehead neighborhood. The artist looked at some furniture in Blandwood—some historical pieces that had a good story to tell. He decided to create these outdoor pieces using steel and concrete, and recreate them as an outdoor living room. The artist talked about seeing the Greenway as an inviting place for people to enjoy, but then stop for a little respite and perhaps have a conversation with somebody they do not know. This seating arrangement provides a welcoming opportunity to converse. The next bench that we are planning is still in the design phase, and will be located near the Fisher Park neighborhood. The artist , Jeanette Brossart from Durham, North Carolina, has already held some community meetings with the Fisher Park neighborhood. We are looking forward to seeing the end product at the end of 2013 or early 2014.
Dabney Sanders: We knew from the early planning stages for the Downtown Greenway that we wanted public art to be a major component of this 4-mile loop. We wanted those pieces of public art to represent city-wide themes that have been important in making Greensboro what it is today. So we have commissioned the first artist to create a cornerstone with the theme of "Motion," called Gateway of the Open Book. Rhode Island artist Brower Hatcher created that piece, and he collaborated with local artist Frank Russell as well as students from local elementary and high schools represented by the Warnersville neighborhood, the closest neighborhood to Gateway of the Open Book. Frank Russell: It is always terrific to work with kids. Kids have absolute raw, unedited creativity streaming out of them. It is unfiltered, and they will tell you exactly what they see or feel or think, provided you can get them talking—and you have to get them talking. Barbara brought coffee, and we actually gave them caffeine to elicit a response—with cookies and coffee and some time. I think when people Peter’s age began to see one another participate, it encouraged them to loosen up and participate. Peter was very outspoken and had terrific ideas on paper. Kids are just creative genius. We did not have to make up anything for these iconic images. We created almost 40 images, and we actually used 25 in the sculpture itself. They definitely brought their 'A' game. We also played with some found objects that provided the idea of the four quarters of the moon and the sun. Peter Smith: Me and my friends, we drew pictures of the moon, the sun, the galaxy—all types of stuff. It was the first time that I had worked with scrap metals. We would go through copper, boxes of copper, and pipes. There we started talking about the sculpture—phase one of it. Frank Russell: We were challenged. We were invited to mention several things about the strengths of Greensboro, our city. And I think education is one of the most powerful things that Greensboro has going. We have so many colleges, so many universities. So, to have it shaped as a book for knowledge and research and all the fun, excellent things that are going to be found in this particular book, from fish to rocket ships to flying saucers to a lot of great things, made sense. These kids gave us these ideas. These kids told us what should be in the cornerstone. Peter Smith: It makes me feel wonderful because it was something that I took part in with me and my friends, and we did something for the community.