Newly Proposed Plan Looks to Make Elon a Safer Place for Pedestrians and Bikers Alike

By Russell Varner
September 5, 2008

The Town of Elon may soon undergo some very drastic visual changes. The Board of Aldermen met last night to talk about the new project to put more sidewalks, shared-use roads and lights around the town.

Jesse Day, a regional planner from the Piedmont Triad Council of Governments presented a 15 minute PowerPoint presentation to the Board and all those in attendance, showing everyone what this plan holds in store for the town, from recommendations for the pedestrian, bicycle and lighting systems in Elon to policy and program recommendations to plans for the university, downtown and Twin Lakes areas. The newly proposed plan, which started last summer and will be finished by 2030, will build 7.5 miles of sidewalk, 6.2 miles of shared-use paths (roads which can be used by both bikers and walkers), 12.1 miles of bicycle lanes and shoulders, 6 intersections and 15 corridors which have been identified for improvement. University Drive in particular has been pointed out.

Day says the goal for the program is to build wider sidewalks, better transit connections, safety and intersection improvements, more bicycle parking, on-road bicycle accommodations and lighting improvements.

“We want to replace car trips with bike trips,” Day said. “Investing in sidewalk,
 bike lanes, pathways and other infrastructure will improve quality of
 life, increase opportunities for physical activity, reduce traffic
 congestion and give residents transportation options.

In Elon, there were nine incidents between cars and bikers or pedestrians between 2001 and 2006 alone. There will be a vote held Tuesday at on whether or not to adopt the proposed plan, though changes could be added on later if necessary.

The board members also discussed for the second time the location of the new Elon public library. It will be located either near Beth Schmidt Park or the Elon University-owned field on Williamson Avenue, better known as the ‘Firehouse Fields’.

“Some people say why do we need another library? We already have two- one at the university and one at the elementary school,” Mayor Jerry Tolley said. “The difference is the university library is a research library. This will be more like a community library, where people can just go in and read.”

“It will be open to everyone, have computers and community rooms, and things like that. It will be more open and have a lot more hours, compared to the elementary school, which closes everyday at 3 pm and isn’t open on the weekends. This will be open until 9 at night and on the weekends.”

Regardless where the library will be placed, it is estimated that it will cost around 3 million dollars to build, which will be paid by the town and its citizens. The county would then pay for running the library, including staffing and books. According to board members, the project would take about two years and is ready to go as soon as it’s given the green light.

Funding has been approved but no date has been set, since they are waiting for confirmation on the location. Some citizens have emailed board member Davis Montgomery saying that they would prefer the Beth Schmidt Park location to the Firehouse Fields location. The school has said the field will soon undergo new construction, whether or not the library is built there.

More information on both can be found at http://www.elonnc.com.

The board also:

· Agreed to look into a proposed book sale, hosted by the Friends of the Library organization.

· Agreed to vote on whether to approve Louis Wilkins as a new Planning Board member.

· Agreed to vote on a text amendment change to Elon’s Community Appearance Standards Ordinance.

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