Danbury seeks to improve connectivity

By Nicholas Elmes - nelmes@civitasmedia.com

The Danbury Town Council is working on plans to improve connectivity in the town, discussing new sidewalks, green ways and additional parking at a recent special meeting.

“The whole point of it is to create some connection between the government center, Hanging Rock State Park, the river and the downtown area,” said Town Administrator Mike Barsness. “The Council is really enthusiastic about it.”

He said during their meeting last week the council settled on an initial plan to work toward creating a continuous sidewalk from the government center, through the downtown area to the bridge over the Dan River.

“Right now the only way for people to get out of their house and recreate is to go out and walk on the highway and consequently they don’t do it,” said Barness, noting that the town is also considering using existing easements on sewer lines on the northern side of the town to create a paved green way which could connect with the planned sidewalks, creating a loop trail. “Currently there is only a county access maintenance easement, it is not a public easement, so we would still have to get new easement from property owners to create public trail through there.”

The move to create new walking routes in town is partially spurred by hopes that the the town could become a “trail town” on the Mountains to Sea Trail.

“We want to go ahead and create our master plan and then they can tie into us,” said Barsness.

But he was quick to point out that the project is still in the very early planning stages.

“Last week’s meeting was really a visioning discussion,” he said. “We need to establish our partners in this. We need to get in touch with Northwest Regional Regional Planning because they will be a great resource for helping to get this organized. Other people we need to partner with include Stokes County, the Mountain to Sea Trail organization, Hanging Rock State Park and obviously the property owners.”

Barsness said the town would likely also find a consultant, like Destination by Design, to help the town create a master plan for the project and identify funding sources.

“Everything comes down to money eventually, but we are never going to get any money if we don’t organize and start something,” he said, noting that he thought the town could get grant funding for the initial planning portion of the project. “We are not looking at making this happen all at one time. It will have to be phased. I think the sidewalk connection between the government center and at least downtown, if not the all the way to the bridge, will be the first thing we look at. I think there may be separate money available for sidewalks and trails and we could compete for those funding sources at the same time.”

Barsness added that the Council also discussed some possible ways to add more parking to the downtown area to better serve visitors.

Nicholas Elmes may be reached at 336-591-8191 or on Twitter @NicholasElmes.

By Nicholas Elmes


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