Critics of paving the West Ashley Greenway have been outspoken in their opposition to a plan they contend will spoil its bucolic aspect. No question, it will be a little less green with a strip of paving along a portion of the 10-mile pathway that parallels Savannah Highway.
But something will also be gained with the increased use of the Greenway. It will be more accessible to more residents, including bicyclists, parents with strollers and handicapped people.
All of the above spoke on behalf of paving a portion of the Greenway in public hearings before plans were finalized.
“They were overwhelmingly in support for the paving,” says Vonie Gilreath, who was president of the Byrnes Downs Neighborhood Association when public hearings were held on the project. “In the end it’s about making it accessible to everyone.”
Because of the recent criticism, however, the city has decided to reduce the paving width from 10 feet to eight feet, and align the asphalt strip to ensure there remains a substantial unpaved portion on the Greenway. That reasonable concession should give those who want to stroll on a dirt path the option to do so.
Hopefully, the paved path will still be wide enough to accommodate those who would use it. The standard width for a paved, multi-use pathway is 10 to 12 feet.
The recent public response to the paving plan underscores the degree to which the Greenway is appreciated by those who live adjacent to the former railroad corridor.
The Greenway serves and connects 16 neighborhoods along its length, as well as schools and shopping centers.
Improvements to the Greenway will increase the number of its advocates by providing for its greater use by residents.
The city’s decision to reduce the width of the pathway and shift its location is a reasonable response.
It should satisfy both the critics and those who have encouraged a practical design to expand the Greenway’s use.