From Connections: Linking Lawrence County’s Resources Through Greenways (June 2008 by Pashek Associates)
Greenways provide numerous and diverse benefits to local municipalities and their residents. This plan focuses on the economic, ecological, recreational, social, and transportation benefits of greenways.
Pennsylvania Greenways - An Action Plan for Creating Connections, has this definition:
"A greenway is a corridor of open space, varying greatly in scale, and incorporating or linking diverse natural, cultural, and scenic resources. Some greenways are recreational corridors or scenic byways accommodating pedestrian and non-motorized vehicle trafﬁc on both land and water; while others function almost exclusively for environmental protection and are not designed for human passage."
Sound Greenways Planning uses a three-step process that answers the following questions:
Where are we now? This is the inventory phase, during which information about the County’s natural, cultural, historical, and scenic assets is gathered, forming the building blocks of conservation and/or recreation corridors. For example, it is important to note critical habitat areas, as well as abandoned rail lines that have potential for conversion into recreational trails.
Where do we want to be? In this phase, the “Vision” for the greenways system is developed. Speciﬁcally, the plan synthesizes information gathered in the inventory phase into a proposed network of greenways and trails linking important destinations throughout the County.
How do we get there? This phase provides information and recommendations on the implementing the Greenways Plan. It includes concrete tools such as recommended management structure, prioritized trail and greenway segments, potential funding sources, and suggestions for pilot/demonstration projects.
Greenway planning also involves an intensive public participation process that solicits knowledge and expertise from local residents and ofﬁcials - those who know Lawrence County best. During this process, input is obtained by the following methods:
With the aforementioned beneﬁts and planning process in mind, this Plan examines the various methods by which Lawrence County can develop a greenway network that will help to preserve its essential natural resources and, in turn, its unique character and quality of life. The purpose of this project is to develop a network of connections between the County’s diverse natural areas, its various cultural, historic, and recreational resources, and local population centers. These connections will help to preserve the County’s natural resources and open spaces while providing valuable recreational opportunities for local residents.
Preserving and enhancing Lawrence County’s character and quality of life is the main goal of the Greenway Plan, and these speciﬁc objectives support this main goal:
Once ﬁnalized and approved by the Lawrence County Commissioners and adopted as part of the County’s recent Comprehensive Plan (2004), the Greenway Plan will serve as a ﬂexible tool for making decisions regarding the protection of its natural, cultural, historic, and scenic resources. By encompassing a variety of issues pertinent to these resources, the Plan will lay the foundation for the continued success of open space conservation and increased quality of life in Lawrence County. Specific policy details and greenway locations may be adjusted as needed throughout the planning process and implementation. Sound Greenway Planning includes inventory and analysis of natural features, cultural and historic sites, and open spaces such as parks or nature reserves; along with collaboration with local government agencies, private groups, and interested citizens to form policies for development and/or conservation. This multi-layered approach, involving Lawrence County and its decision-makers, yields short-, medium-, and long-term strategies for natural resource conservation and greenway development in harmony with any potential economic development.
Greenways can serve many functions. When determining the guiding principles used to designate greenways for Lawrence County, we considered the objectives established in the early part of the planning process. The following goals and objectives offer insight into the function of the greenways to be developed in the county: Preserving and enhancing Lawrence County’s character and quality of life is the main goal of the Greenway Plan, and these speciﬁc objectives support this main goal:
These goals and objectives support the two general functions that deﬁne proposed Greenways in Lawrence County:
1) Conservation Greenways are corridors whose primary function is preservation of sensitive environmental features and habitats, such as wetlands, steep slopes, ﬂ oodplains, exceptional value water-quality streams, high-value natural areas identiﬁed by the Lawrence County Natural Heritage Inventory, outstanding geologic or scenic features, and land surrounding the county’s drinking water sources. They are linear tracts of essentially undeveloped open space. Some low-impact activity, like hiking or wildlife observation, is acceptable in these corridors, but intense development and motorized vehicle use are not recommended.
2) Recreational and Transportation Greenways are corridors in which trail development is recommended. These greenways connect population centers and points of interest. They bring people into contact with the outdoors and engender an appreciation of the natural world. These trails also provide alternative, environmentally-friendly transportation options for commuters and visitors. In some cases, recreational trails overlay areas where conservation of natural assets is also an objective. To avoid conﬂ icts, recreational uses should be planned to minimize impacts. For example, a biking trail along a river or stream corridor should be designed to preserve steep slopes, wetlands, and other sensitive areas.
This section of the Greenways Plan offers step-by-step recommendations outlining the process of implementing the proposed greenways network in Lawrence County. This is the sequence of events needed to carry the Greenways Plan from the “vision” described earlier to completion of conservation and recreation greenway corridors. For each broad objective, the tables specify a sequence of prioritized tasks, along with respective estimated costs, and parties responsible for leadership and assistance in the undertaking of each task. Responsible parties will need to seek funding through grants or cost reimbursement programs throughout the implementation process. This section also provides lists of potential funding sources. Tasks are prioritized into three designations:
Short-term (S) priorities should be accomplished in the ﬁrst 2 years after ofﬁcial adoption of the Greenways Plan. These strategies will lay the foundation for successful implementation of the greenways plan.
Middle-term (M) priorities should be undertaken in years 3 through 5.
Long-term (L) priorities are expected to begin 5 or more years down the road.
Many of the strategies listed have little or no cost beyond the administrative costs to be incurred by the responsible parties. Where recommended tasks require an additional expense for implementation, a cost estimate is included. It is essential to note that costs are “ball park” ﬁgures, in 2007 dollars, based on similar projects or initiatives. Detailed cost estimates will need to be developed through feasibility studies.
Advancing Individual Greenway Segments
The following steps show the process that the LCPD, via the Greenways Coordinator, may take to advance the implementation of a speciﬁc greenway segment.
1) Approach municipalities to educate them on the beneﬁts of establishing greenways.
2) Work with municipal ofﬁcials to identify a demonstration project that will result in a success story, and achieve consensus and support for advancing the project.
3) Meet with municipal ofﬁcials and other local supporters to discuss greenway protection and/or trail development, plan a strategy for approaching landowner(s) in the project area, and identify land trusts or other organizations as possible partners.
4) Determine who will hold property or easement if property acquisition or easement establishment is successful.
5) Assist municipalities and partners in determining the need for further planning and the feasibility of property acquisition or easement establishment. If additional planning is required, proceed directly to step 10.
6) Help municipal ofﬁcials and partners to anticipate questions, issues, and concerns of landowner(s). Prepare a response detailing how proper planning will speciﬁcally address landowner questions and issues, alleviate concerns, and promote healthy relationships between the municipality and landowner(s).
7) Coach municipal ofﬁcials and partners in preparing to negotiate the acquisition or establishment of easements on the greenway segment.
8) Approach landowner(s) with municipal ofﬁcials and partners to discuss the project, identify landowner issues / concerns, and address ability of planning and design to address those concerns in an manner acceptable to the all parties. Ask landowner(s) permission to advance planning and design of the greenway segment. Schedule a follow- up meeting with landowner to present a conceptual design for the greenway segment.
9) Accompany municipal ofﬁcials and partners to present preliminary planning and design of greenway segment, ask owner if his/her concerns have been sufﬁciently addressed. Revise planning and/or design if necessary until acceptable to all parties.
10) Review methods of acquisition and preservation and negotiate with landowners to acquire property or establish easement(s).
11) Arrange for County Solicitor to arrange legal paperwork for acquisition of property or establishment of easements in greenway segment.
12) Assist municipality in establishing a construction budget, and determine the county’s level or participation in development of the greenway segment.
13) Help with preparation of grant applications to secure funding for acquisition and/or development of greenway segment.
14) Oversee development of greenway segment.
Published June 20, 2008
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