Greenways Support Schools & Services

Investing in greenways supports our schools and social services, as tax dollars should. The Dr. John Wilson Community Garden is just a small example of how greenways across Buncombe County can support these essential elements in our neighborhoods. The Town of Black Mountain established the Garden Greenway in 2011 with grant funding from multiple sources, public and private.

The Garden Greenway provides a direct link to schools and social services by:

Providing affordable access to more than 70 families to grow vegetables for themselves
Donating 4,000 pounds of fresh produce to families in need
Supporting health and nutrition education for every first and fourth grader in Black Mountain through field trips.
Did you know you can grow eight months of food for about $35? Seeds can be purchased with food stamps and our gardeners are able to grow eight months of food for the cost to rent a garden plot, $35. A number of our gardeners walk or bike to the garden to tend their plots.

I know in one instance, biking is her only form of transportation. There are no bike lanes or sidewalks that currently link the garden to downtown. Greenways connect the Dr. John Wilson Community Garden to downtown Black Mountain.

Childhood obesity and diabetes are increasing at incredible rates. I cannot think of a more direct social service to target these two epidemics among our school children than greenways and gardens. The Community Garden annually hosts every Black Mountain public school first and fourth grader on a field trip, where they learn about how fruits and vegetables are grown and how healthy food can keep their bodies healthy. With the Garden Greenway now available, these students include a walk on the greenway as part of their field trip, learning about exercise and wellness.

The greenway has increased exposure to the Community Garden, which has increased our access to funding. Last year we received a $3,000 grant to fund the installation of an orchard on a site opened up by the construction of the greenway. Planting fruit and nut trees increase our ability to provide access to fresh produce in our community.

As the mother of three children, the greenway means a lot to me. While I work, my children bike, ride scooters, draw with chalk and play games, some days long after the sun has gone down and the bats have come out. Before the greenway, dragging my children to work was a chore. Now they often want to go, even when I don’t need to.

Because our house is near the Garden Greenway, we don’t even need to use the car to go to work or play. For me, all of these things make calling Black Mountain home that much sweeter.

Black Mountain News, Jul. 10, 2012
Written by Diana Schmitt McCall, Guest Columnist

Trails Important to Home Buyers

From National Association of Home Builders and the National Association of Realtors

In April, 2002 a survey of of 2,000 recent home buyers was co-sponsored by the National Association of Home Builders and the National Association of Realtors. The survey asked about the “importance of community amenities,” and trails came in second only to highway access. Those surveyed could check any number of the 18 amenities, and 36 percent picked walking, jogging or biking trails as either “important” or “very important.” Sidewalks, parks, and playgrounds ranked next in importance.

Ranking much lower were ball fields, golf courses, and tennis courts. However, the home buyers indicated that price and home size were far more important than proximity to work, the city or schools. Given three statements to choose from, 62 percent indicated “the top concern was price,” while 31 percent said that “finding a home in the right neighborhood was the top priority.” Just 7 percent of respondents said that “being close to work and minimizing the commute was really important.”

A graph showing that 36 percent of surveyed home buyers rate trails as important to very important nearby amenities
36 percent of surveyed home buyers rate trails as important to very important nearby amenities

Article from National Trails Training Partnership

Greenway Land Links Neighborhoods to Carrier Park

Asheville Citizen-Times, Feb. 14, 2011  

Asheville has 4.5 miles of developed greenways and is working toward a 15-mile system.
Size: 12 acres
Possible length of greenway: 2/3 of a mile
Connections: To the north, Sand Hill Road at the corner of Narbeth Road. To the south, the intersection of Hominy Creek and Shelburne Roads.

ASHEVILLE — For an urban neighborhood, Doug Barlow found a rare thing when he moved to his West Asheville home four years ago.

Written by Joel Burgess

Just across Sand Hill Road, a narrow, wooded stretch of property running along Hominy Creek offered him a scenic trek to Carrier Park, the city’s most popular recreation spot.

“I walked down here, and I saw that beautiful creek and the woods and thought this needs to be a greenway,” Barlow said.

Taking a cue from land preservation he had done in Atlanta, the 64-year-old Barlow and his neighbors tried to convince government officials and others to buy the 12 acres from private owners

With a $300,000 price tag, the effort failed to win City Council approval in 2007. But thanks to years of work by volunteers and a drop in property values, Asheville has bought the land $139,000.

The move preserves a historic and unusual piece of property, supporters say, and serves as another link for the area’s growing greenway system.

City and Buncombe County taxpayers each paid $55,756. Private donors gave $27,878. Barlow himself chipped in $500, plus around $2,000 that wasn’t counted, he said, for the original survey and other costs over the four years.

A major fear until recently was that someone interested in developing the land would outbid the city, Barlow said.

“I’ve been holding my breath for so long on this thing,” he said.

Those involved with the property soon learned its historic nature. Stone ruins show the spot of a dam built by Edwin Carrier, for whom the park is named.

An investor from Pennsylvania, Carrier dammed the creek to provide power to his resort at Sulphur Springs near what is now Malvern Hills.

It also powered a street car that went to a racetrack near the site of the current park and into the city.

The dam eventually failed and Carrier went bankrupt. The land, largely in floodplain, went to other owners. A sewer line was built along it, and over the years, a few walkers and cyclists turned it into a regular route.


Residents cited greenways in a city survey as their biggest priority when it comes to parks and recreation. But land suitable for the linear parks can be hard to come by.

The Hominy Creek land holds added value in that it provides an easily traveled connection from central West Asheville to other greenways.

From Haywood Road, walkers and cyclists can go down Sand Hill, turn into the property and after 2/3 of a mile come out at Hominy Creek Road.

The road ends at Hominy Creek Park and connects to the existing Hominy Creek Greenway that runs to Carrier Park.

The greenway from Carrier goes on to the French Broad River Park and Dog Park. Crossing the French Broad River from the park is a bike lane that runs along Lyman Street to the River Arts District.

Other routes are often busy with cars or have steep hills, said Charlie Clogston, treasurer for the nonprofit Blue Ridge Bicycle Club

“This is a good place for families to ride away from cars,” Clogston said.

The club has made health a major focus and wants to encourage cycling among children, especially those at risk of obesity.

For that reason, the Buncombe-based group was the lead agency in raising private funds and got a deed restriction for the property specifying that it should always be a public park.

It will likely be years until the city will be able to pay for paving and other improvements, meanwhile people will likely continue to blaze their own path, said Marc Hunt, chairman of the Asheville Greenway Commission

As for the bigger picture, Hunt said the Hominy Creek property could eventually link a greenway system to the Buncombe County Sports Park in Candler and on into Enka.

“It could be a pretty remarkable connection,” he said.

Environmental learning

Along with being a corridor for commuters and others, the property is an unusual piece of forest in the city, Barlow said.

Barlow said he hopes schools will take advantage of its proximity to teach students about plants and animals.

Along with a wide range of trees — including poplars, locusts and black walnuts, people have spotted pileated woodpeckers, hawks, foxes and deer.

Barlow said he’s run across turkeys and believes there’s a coyote den nearby.

“I’ve seen all sorts of critters down there,” he said.