Study to firm up plans for Charlotte Rail Trail

htrenda@charlotteobserver.comAugust 27, 2013 

A $100,000 study will help determine the detailed plans for the proposed 3.3-mile Charlotte Rail Trail that would tie South End to uptown.

The city and county will each contribute $30,000, and Charlotte Center City Partners will cover the remaining $40,000.

The plan for the “linear park,” which would run adjacent to the Lynx light-rail system, was announced by Center City Partners in April.

To get more details, including the total project price, the next step is the proposed plan, said Cheryl Myers, vice president of planning and development for Center City Partners.

“This framework plan … will give us the detailed planning and tools necessary to build this project over the next five to 10 years. It won’t happen overnight,” she said.

The organization has asked for proposals from consultants, Myers said, and a team will be selected sometime in September. She expects planning to begin in October.

The effort, which could wrap up in the spring, will include a community workshop and public meetings, she said.

The plan will provide design guidelines for lighting, paving and landscaping, among other elements.

“We want it to be kind of spontaneous and whimsical, but there still have to be some organizing materials,” Myers said.

Besides walkways, the park would use space along the rail line to feature “activity areas,” Myers said.

Proposed ideas include public art and space for nonprofits, performances, food vendors, a giant seesaw and a beer garden, among other options, she said.

David Furman, architect and founder of Centro CityWorks, has been involved with the rail-trail project and helped develop the vision. As someone who walks and bikes the existing sidewalk, Furman said, the finished park “has the incredible potential to be a destination for people all over the city,” he said.

“This is not one big comprehensive program where someone has to go find millions of dollars to implement it simultaneously. It will evolve in pieces that plug into the whole to one day be complete,” he said.

Furman said organizers have been meeting with developers and property owners along the trail about small projects. While none is 100 percent ready to go, they’re working to design and determine the cost. So far, many owners and developers have been receptive, he said.

One such effort is something as simple as connecting the trail to businesses, as well as adding signs.

Myers said the trail will connect community, culture and commerce. With seven neighborhoods along the trail, Furman said, people will walk to restaurants, bars and shops.

“It’s my goal for it to be not just a South End thing or a downtown thing but a destination and amenity for everybody in the city to come and enjoy it,” Furman said.

Trenda: 704-358-5089Twitter: @htrenda

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