City manager optimistic about greenway trail that former mayor says is “unneeded, unwise, expensive” and “absolutely of no value”

Mebane’s city manager is still optimistic that everything will work out for the city to obtain an easement on the one missing parcel necessary for the city to have easements to complete the east-west route of what was supposed to be a Holt Street greenway trail.

That trail’s projected path no longer runs north to the city’s Holt Street Park, from which its name derives, because of opposition from other property owners who haven’t granted an easement for the trail to cross their properties.

Last week, Lawson Brown, the city’s attorney, told The Alamance News that among the eight property owners on the northern leg, one had consented to an easement, two were very opposed to granting one, and the city had not heard from five others.

Last week’s edition of The Alamance News carried a story about an elderly brother and sister who live in New York who own the property that city manager Chris Rollins told the council earlier this spring that the city would consider condemning in order to be able to complete the greenway trail project from the Mebane Arts and Community Center (MACC) to South Mebane Elementary School.

Nettie Miles, who grew up in Mebane, is one of the co-owners of the property and a daughter of the late Mebane residents who owned the land in predominantly black West End area adjacent to the city’s corporate limits. Miles told the newspaper she and her brother were not interested in granting an easement. She said they ultimately hope to rebuild the family’s home place which burned around 2007.

Rollins told the newspaper this week that family members had been in touch with the city about the city’s desire for the easement, and he continued to express optimism that a satisfactory outcome will occur.

Meanwhile, during a brief interview with The Alamance News, mayor Ed Hooks told the newspaper flatly that the council “would not” condemn the property for a greenway trail, a position echoed by councilman Tim Bradley who was standing nearby; in Mebane’s council structure, however, Hooks does not have a vote.

The council also heard this week from long-time former mayor Glendel Stephenson who cautioned against proceeding with the greenway project. In a letter to Hooks, council members, and city manager Chris Rollins, Stephenson said the proposed trail is not something the city needs.

“We have good sidewalks from South [Mebane] Elementary all the way to the MACC on which you can walk, push a baby stroller, in perfect safety and total convenience,” Stephenson told the council members.

“There will be no need to go through disturbing neighborhoods and possibly using the power of the city to take away property from our citizens. This is a practice the city has not done and is against the right of a property owner to be secure in their ownership,” and the former mayor added, “and this would be for a purpose that is absolutely of no value.”

Stephenson said there are plenty of walking paths at the city’s new park, and he also cautioned against borrowing money to pay for the greenway, a proposition the council has previously debated. “This is not something that is worthy of adding to the city’s debt load,” he said.

“I implore you,” the former mayor concluded, “to abandon this unneeded, unwise, and expensive project. The completion of this project would call for more police security, lighting and safety devices, and would be an ongoing expense for the city.

“Do not be afraid to abandon a project that has been looked at for several years that will create animosity among citizens which cannot be corrected and would put the city in the position of doing something it simply does not do, exercising its legal power over the property of its people.”

See previous coverage from April 29, 2021 edition – Elderly heirs facing potential condemnation from city: