As you’ve read in previous blog posts, parks come in all shapes and sizes and have a variety of amenities. I recently explored a linear park also known as a greenway on a recent visit to Clayton. At 1.25 miles in length, the Sam’s Branch Greenway is an important connector as it will eventually connect to other parks, Downtown Clayton and the Clayton Community Center. Just off of the parking lot is where the greenway will continue under the road. Opened in the spring of 2013, this stretch of greenway currently connects to the Clayton River Walk which meets up with the Neuse River Greenway in Wake County and provides about 30 miles of biking and hiking opportunities.
While exploring the greenway with Clayton Park & Recreation Director Larry Bailey, he shared how he noticed that as families were walking out on the trail the kids were happy on the way out and crying on the return trip. So he set out to find some things to add to the greenway to give kids something to do and learn along the way. As with many communities, Eagle Scouts look to parks for opportunities for a project. A recent project installed two stations along the greenway sharing information about forest animals that may be seen along the trail and the habitat around a small pond. With funds donated by The Rotary Club, picnic table and benches were installed.
At mile 1, there is a display of outdoor public art. At an overlook along Sam’s Branch, there are whimsical butterfly benches, a totem pole and a Little Free Library that was a project of a recent Miss Clayton and books donated by the Junior Women’s Club. Just past this overlook along the fencing on both sides of the greenway is an outdoor art exhibit. The acrylics on plywood project are designed and painted by art students at Clayton High, Clayton Middle, and Cooper and Powhatan Elementary Schools. This collaborative exhibit is a joint venture between the Clayton Public Art Advisory Board and the art teachers and students at Clayton Public Schools. The first installation was butterflies and the second installation is fish. After the exhibit, the art is sold at the local Harvest Festival and the proceeds go back into the next year’s project.
Anytime a greenway is near a major water source like the Neuse River, there is an opportunity for flooding. This current exhibit has already been underwater two times, once due to a hurricane and another from a major storm event. It was great to see a how a variety of local partners have come together to elevate the experience one receives while strolling, running or biking along Sam’s Branch Greenway. I highly recommend it as a place to visit and emulate.
For more information on Clayton Parks & Recreation Greenways visit http://www.townofclaytonnc.org/Parks-and-Recreation/greenways-and-trails.aspx