Greenways and trails are big news in the Rocket City.
The press came out in force in record 88 degree heat to hear about the city of Huntsville’s new partnership with the Land Trust of North Alabama to revise and expedite a master greenway plan for pedestrian connectivity across the City of Huntsville.
Huntsville has constructed about 24 miles out of an ambitious greenway plan that calls for nearly 200 miles of connections. The plan, more than 10 years old, reflects a time when greenways were viewed as recreational amenities. The BIG Picture planning process revealed that citizens, businesses, and planners expect greenways to offer a mix of safe commuter routes as well as connections for recreation and play.
“We heard citizens loud and clear say that greenways are a priority,” said Mayor Tommy Battle. “After looking at the BIG Picture feedback and examining the rapid construction of new greenways and multi-modal lanes in other cities, we decided to update our plan to better reflect the public’s desires and to determine how we are going to pay for these pedestrian networks.”
The Mayor says no one knows more about building trails and greenways than the Land Trust of North Alabama. Executive Director Marie Bostick is the City’s former director of planning and the architect of many of Huntsville’s greenways.
“Marie is the right person to support and lead us in this effort,” said Mayor Battle. “By leveraging our resources together, we can make greater progress.”
The City agreed to pay the Land Trust $125,000 per year for five years to help develop a new greenway plan and to provide assistance in securing funding for its implementation.
“I am excited about this opportunity and what we can do for the citizens of Huntsville,” said Bostick. “The Land Trust is out there on a daily basis thinking about connections and about the system that is on the ground. We understand the importance of the economic development side of greenways, trails and open spaces, and how they can benefit community and businesses.”
Long-Range Planner Dennis Madsen says the partnership gives his department added planning capacity and the ability to bring in more private support for faster implementation.
“When you look at the cities with successful greenways – Chattanooga, Indianapolis, and Atlanta’s Beltline – they enlisted public-private partnerships in response to public will,” said Madsen. “The Land Trust is a well-respected organization in the business of connecting people, land and places. They have a strong history of fundraising and will help us accelerate our greenway buildout.”
The Land Trust agreement includes assistance with greenway planning preparation and mapping, identifying funding sources – philanthropic as well as grant applications – and working with landowners on acquisition.
“Greenways are incredibly popular and people want more of them,” said Madsen. “This is a chance to give them exactly that.”