STEELE CREEK NEWS
Community Trail Questions and Answers
(November 30, 2004)
What is the Steele Creek
a vision of a 50-mile network of trails that will connect
neighborhoods, parks, schools, shopping areas, and employment
centers throughout the Steele Creek Community. Trails will follow
stream corridors, utility easements, roadways, and other routes.
Some trails will be part of the Mecklenburg County park system and
some will be maintained by neighborhood associations or other
community groups. (Click
or on the map at right to see a map of the Community Trail network.)
What is the history behind the
In early 2003, community organizers saw an opportunity to pull
together a number of trail-related initiatives. The Steele Creek and
Walkers Branch Greenways became part of the Mecklenburg County
Master Greenway Plan adopted in 1999. Three major developments
(Palisades, Berewick and Sanctuary) had been announced, and all had
trails as part of their communities. The area contains the McDowell
Nature Preserve and the Thomas McAlister Winget District Park, and
other parks are planned in the Berewick and Palisades neighborhoods.
It seemed to make sense to link up all these trails and parks with
the planned town center at Highways 49 and 160, with the new
library, and with schools in the area. Road congestion also was
increasing and we thought it would be fabulous to be able to ride or
walk to local establishments instead of having to drive our cars.
What is the vision for the Steele
Creek Community Trail?
We would like Steele Creek to be known by its systems of walking
trails and bikeways connecting people of all backgrounds to schools,
shops, library, workplaces...and more importantly to each other.
What is the Steele Creek
Community Trail Committee?
A group of interested residents began meeting in early 2003 to
formulate a plan for the trail. In May 2004 the group was formally
organized as a committee of the Steele Creek Residents Association.
The committee meets monthly at 7:00 pm on the third Thursday at the
Steele Creek Athletic Association meeting house at 13350 Choate
Circle. All interested persons are welcome to attend.
What government agencies are
Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation Department,
Mecklenburg County Real Estate Services, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Planning Commission, North Carolina Department
of Transportation, and Mecklenburg County Greenway Advisory Council.
What has been reaction from
government, the public, and developers?
We have had tremendous support and encouragement from everyone. We
feel that everyone, even though diverse in their missions, all see
trails and greenways as a good way to protect our creeks and to
foster a healthier lifestyle for our residents. Developers
acknowledge that access to walkways and bikeways within and between
neighborhoods are desired by potential homebuyers. The public has
been very supportive of safe places to walk, jog, and ride bikes and
have signed petitions and contact sheets.
What are the benefits of trails?
Trails are appealing because they promote environment benefits,
improve air quality, lessen noise, maintain habitats for wildlife,
provide safe places to walk, jog and ride, and connect people in our
What are the benefits to the
Trails will make citizens aware of hidden creeks and runoff areas.
The creeks have been used in the past for dumping of oil and paints
and clippings, and appliances, and all kinds of trash. Getting
people to walk and jog and ride along creeks will raise awareness of
the need for cleaning up creeks. Mecklenburg County has done
wonderful job of revitalizing creeks in our county, and fish,
amphibians, birds, and other wildlife are now living along these
rejuvenated waterways. We want to do the same along Steele Creek and
Will the trail be connected to a
larger system in Mecklenburg and York Counties?
There is a regional trail that has been proposed by land
conservationists in our area: the Catawba Regional Trail, which
would follow natural corridors like creeks, rivers, natural areas.
We envision that The Steele Creek Community Trail will link to other
greenways in Mecklenburg County, the trails of Tega Cay, and the
Nations Ford Greenway around Fort Mill.
What are the priorities?
Although the eventual goal is a 50-mile network of trails throughout
the community, the initial emphasis is being placed on the Steele
Creek and Walkers Branch Greenway Trails. These are on the
Mecklenburg County Master Greenway Plan. The Steele Creek Greenway
Trail will follow Steele Creek from Brown-Grier Road south to the
South Carolina state line. The Walkers Branch Greenway Trail meets
the Steele Creek Trail at the state line and runs north along
Walkers Branch to Steele Creek Road and possibly further. These
would be the first greenway trails built in Southwest Mecklenburg
What will the Steele Creek and
Walkers Branch trails look like?
The trails likely will be natural to start out with: dirt,
woodchips, gravel...whatever we can get donated. Much of the trailsí
routes are already cleared for the sanitary lines that parallel the
creeks, so all we need to do is bush hog and then keep it mowed.
Ultimately we want the trail to be paved. The current standard for
Charlotte-Mecklenburg greenways is a 10-foot wide asphalt path This
will allow a more diverse group to use the amenity.
The existing natural path is very serene and quiet and earthy. Itís
hard to believe that youíre so close to roads and business parks.
How do roadways figure in the
We are behind the ball on getting passage under or over roadways. It
would be great to have tunnels and overpasses like other cities but
in the meantime we could certainly use help from the Department of
Transportation to install pedestrian crosswalks at creeks and lights
What is the cost of these trails?
We are trying to get the land or easements for the Steele Creek and
Walkers Branch Greenway Trails donated from landowners along the
creeks. After we have cleared some brush and built a path along the
creeks, we can start using the trail for walking. Our plan is to
open up some small sections first so that people can see how nice
the trial will be for getting about.
The Mecklenburg County park planner estimates that it would cost
about $100,000 per mile for a 10-foot wide asphalt trail to
accommodate all residents and safety vehicles. The total length of
the Steele Creek and Walkers Branch Greenways is about 7 miles, so
it will take about $700,000 to complete those.
Are you seeking donations?
Yes, we are seeking donations.
The initial need is for land along Steele Creek and Walkers Branch.
Several landowners have indicated a willingness to donate either
land outright or easements, but the process takes time.
We also need money to build and maintain the trails. Contributions
are being accepted through a non-profit group called
Parks, which supports park programs and projects in Mecklenburg and
surrounding counties. Individuals can donate anything...money, a
park bench, signageÖand take a tax write-off.
What are other potential sources
In November, Mecklenburg County voters approved $69 million in park
bonds. Of this, $25 million is earmarked for greenways. About $10.5
million of that will go to the Little Sugar Creek Greenway, and the
rest will be spent on other projects throughout the county. It is
anticipated that most, if not all, of the cost of the Steele Creek
and Walkers Branch Greenway Trails will be covered by bonds.
However, much of the trail system will not be part of the county
park system, and other funding will be needed. Several national and
state organizations offer grants for trail building, and the
committee is pursuing those. Many of these organizations reward
communities that foster active lifestyles and connectivity.
What is the timeframe for the
trail to be available?
We hope to have sections available for walking and jogging and maybe
biking within a year, but it depends on donations from landowners
and individuals and businesses.
Besides following streams, where
could other trail sections be located?
Utility easements (water/sewer lines and power lines) are prime
locations for trails. Committee members also have talked to the
North Carolina Department of Transportation about incorporating
trails into road improvements. Traditional sidewalks are not
suitable for bicycles, and 10-foot wide asphalt paths along new
roads would be preferable for bicyclists. The Palisades, Berewick,
and Sanctuary residential developments will have trails, and the
committee hopes to achieve connectivity with these.
What is the urgency?
Steele Creek is developing rapidly. If trails arenít incorporated
into plans now, land might not be available later. Some
opportunities have already been lost, such as the inclusion of
tunnels or bridges crossing I-485.
Building a trail system will take a long time, but it wonít happen
if we donít start the ground work now.
How can the public help?
The public can enlist their homeowner associations to support the
trail by granting access along common areas so that their children
can safely bike to libraries, schools, ball fields, parks and other
neighborhood friends. We will always accept donations of money or
Partner for Parks. Residents will also be needed for
helping to build sections of the trail and to petition elected
officials of the need for funds for our trail.
Where can I get more information?
Visit the trail web site at
www.steelecreektrail.org, or email questions to