Clayton Rotary builds benches, tables for Sam’s Branch Greenway

ndunn@newsobserver.comJune 27, 2014 

One of 12 new tables rests just off the Sam’s Branch Greenway in Clayton. The Clayton Rotary Club installed more than 22 places to sit and relax along the trail.

NASH DUNN — ndunn@newsobserver.com

Bikers, runners and walkers who use Clayton’s popular Sam’s Branch Greenway now have 22 places to sit and relax on the 1.2-mile trail.

The Clayton Rotary Club built the benches and tables, which support the town’s ongoing efforts to increase greenway space for active residents.

Clayton leaders say the town’s growing populace has made clear it wants more recreational choices, and the town is relying on state funding and grant dollars to invest millions in its network of public spaces.

The Rotary Club’s $4,000 bench and table project is money the town won’t have to spend, said club president Charles Marcom. He said the club pooled its money with district Rotary dollars to purchase materials for eight picnic tables, four handicap-accessible tables and 10 benches.

For four Saturdays in March, club members met at Clayton Councilman Art Holder’s shop on Powhatan Road to build the benches and tables. Holder, who is a club member, said he built the shop about four years ago after finishing a 35-year career in managing woodworking operations.

Holder said he designed the benches and tables and built prototypes for Larry Bailey, the town’s parks and recreation director.

“They approved them, and for about a month, the Rotary guys came over and helped me cut them out and assemble them,” Holder said.

The Rotary Club thought up the project during a brainstorming session of how to get “hands on the ground in Clayton,” Marcom said. The greenway, he noted, had almost no seating.

“If you were going to go and take a rest, there was no way to do it,” Marcom said.

The new benches and tables are made of treated wood and plastic decking material.

“They are heavy duty and are going to last a while,” Marcom said. “They are sturdy.”

The state paid for most of the the nearly $600,000 Sam’s Branch Greenway, a trail spur that connects to the Clayton River Walk on the Neuse, the longer Neuse River Greenway and the Mountains-to-Sea Trail, an effort to link Clingman’s Dome in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to Jockey’s Ridge State Park on the Outer Banks.

The town plans to extend the greenway from where it currently ends at North O’Neil Street to Legend Park on City Road, an additional 1.2 miles. The project will cost $1.3 million, which includes a tunnel crossing under North O’Neil Street.

Clayton is also planning a 1.2-mile Clayton Community Center pedestrian connector that will stretch from the Clayton Community Center on Amelia Church Road to the corner of Lombard and Hamby streets downtown. The design phase of the project is complete and cost about $125,000; construction is estimated at $1.04 million.

In May, town leaders announced plans for a downtown connector that would extend the existing Clayton River Walk on the Neuse to N.C. 42 East and Front Street, a future major artery to downtown. The connector would stretch to East Clayton Community Park, a 66-acre park near the Glen Laurel community.

Most of Clayton’s greenway projects fall under the Locally Administered Projects Program, or LAPP, which prioritizes regional highway, bicycle and pedestrian projects that will use federal funding. The program, coordinated by the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, or CAMPO, awards funding that typically covers 80 percent of the cost of a project, with local government responsible for the rest.

In its 2014-15 budget, Clayton earmarked $40,000 for the design of the Sam’s Branch Greenway extension and $80,000 toward construction of the Clayton Community Center pedestrian connector.

Dunn: 919-553-7234, Ext. 104

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