Wednesday, April 17, 2013

A park along the rails? Call it Charlotte's Rail Trail

Ever been to the High Line, the New York City public park built on a section of the former elevated New York Central Railroad spur? Envision something similar here.

NYC High Line rail park garden
It's what Charlotte Center City Partners has already envisioned and will unveil at the Center City Vision Awards Thursday night. Charlotte's Rail Trail will be a linear park along the Blue Line of the city's light rail system.

It's an intriguing idea with lots of promise, though there are still several unknowns including the costs. It will take advantage of the existing walkway alongside the Blue Line, and aims - with the help of supporters - to transform the trail into a network of gardens, public art, and places to play and congregate. The 3.3-mile trail would connect communities and neighborhoods from Sedgefield, Southside Park, Brookhill, Dilworth, Wilmore and South End to uptown.

Charlotte's Rail Trail wouldn't be exactly like NYC's High Line, located on Manhattan's lower west side. It's longer than that 1-mile park and promoters say inspiration is coming from a number of other rail parks. But there's a lot about the High Line to like and emulate. It was developed in stages, just like promoters suggest here and its public landscape was created with guidance from a diverse community of supporters - also the idea here.

And High Line is visually engaging, as you can see from the accompanying photo. We like the idea, and the value Charlotte Center City Partners says it could bring - unique recreational space for seven neighborhoods along the trail and others across Charlotte who will flock to it; a destination for tourists and other visitors to experience the authentic character of Charlotte and its people; support for small businesses and easier access for shoppers to galleries, shops and restaurants; and strengthening cultural experiences in the city.

Sounds good. We're eager for Center City Partners to learn more about cost and who will pay for it.

Editor's note: Observer Publisher Ann Caulkins serves on the Center City Partners board. She was not involved with the reporting or writing of this piece.

5 comments:

Nibletodell said...

I commute on the highline every morning. It is nowhere near the Lower East Side. It stretches from the West Village through Chelsea and up to midtown west.

spinelabel said...

Because it runs North-South, the NY highline allows walkers to see some glorious sunset effects. I heard a dozen different languages spoken on the highline when I visited - it's a magnet for tourists. I understand volunteers help maintain it, which shows the level of community support it enjoys. The gardens and sculptures on it show beauty and whimsy. Hope Charlotte can capture some of that magic, too.

copdsux said...

If the project were to begin at the Scaleybark station, the Colonial Village neighborhood would need to be on the list. Not that we're paranoid or anything.

alwaystomorroww said...

Wake up. They will want the taxpayers to pay for it. If they were thinking otherwise, they would have said.

This potential soft cost is beyond my comfort level as a city taxpayer. I supported the greenway because there was scale and value and function. I see this rail trail as primarily a tourist draw, potential differentiator for the neighborhoods it would run through, and payday for those pushing it.

Another growing concern I have is the rail trail may bring shops and restaurants but, with ever higher taxes and slow job growth, what kind..a cool upscale restaurant and shops or another Oodles of Noodles and sunglass hut? Frankly, I would rather see the money it would take to make the rail trail happen used to recruit the next Metlife relo.

Charlotte Fairchild said...

MURDER ON THE SILVER COMET TRAIL is written by Charlotte Fairchild. I hope more people walk the trails in the US.