In the summer, the Carolina North Forest feels about 10 degrees cooler than town streets. The Pumpkin Loop and various trails on the 1,100-acre parcel have their own rush hours as walkers, runners and cyclists squeeze in a little green time during daylight hours.
Yet Carolina North has a development agreement on it, which means at some point the trails will cede to buildings and parking decks. We need to plan now for replacement greenspace.
Chapel Hill has very few spots left that have not clear-cut its mature trees. The 36-acre American Legion land, owned by the town, and the 104-acre Greene Tract, jointly owned by Chapel Hill, Carrboro and Orange County, are the last vestiges of natural space, and some people are lobbying for both to be developed into affordable housing.
Study after study documents the contribution greenspace makes to our physical and mental health as density increases and we become more urbanized.
We don’t have to pit greenspace against affordable housing. With strategic planning, we can have both.