Having served on the Durham Open Space and Trails Commission for many years, I have seen the different answers this question gets.  For most, if not all people, the word “greenway” conjures up a visions of a path-like green space, an environmental smorgasbord of viewing pleasure, most often enjoyed by “moving through” the space.  The main attribute where people differ in the definition of a greenway is in how that movement takes place – is the surface of movement entirely natural (dirt paths, nature trails, cedar chips) or is the trail surface man-made (asphalt, gravel, cement, constructed walkways)? 

Citizens in Carrboro have had a lively discussion lately about what the surface should be of the Bolin Creek Greenway, a trail that will connect Estes Drive to Homestead Road. The conceptual plan for this greenway was presented to us at our meeting on December 8, 2009.    

While the first phases of the greenway are non-controversial (a short segment at the south [Phase 1a] running along Estes Drive, and a segment on the north end of the greenway [Phase 1b] running south from Homestead Road to the back of the three schools on Seawall School Road), it is the segments proposed in the middle – Phases 3 and 4 – that run along Bolin Creek that have even environmentally-minded citizens disagreeing (Phase 2 is a separate segment north of Homestead Road along Jones Creek).  Many citizens prefer for the trail to stay natural along Bolin Creek in Phases 3 and 4, while others believe the trail should have a hard surface throughout the length of the greenway.  You can see the entire conceptual plan here:

http://www.greenways.com/bolin.html

These “creek phases” of the Bolin Creek Greenway will not be built anytime soon, allowing ample time for discussion and investigation of what the BOA ultimately recommends be done.  Because this area is in Carolina North, it is my understanding that UNC-CH will have the final say on the location and surface of the Bolin Creek Greenway.  Until then, let’s all enjoy our time “moving through” this beautiful treasure in our backyard.