Church Square opposes bike trail route

Published 10:22 am Wednesday, March 14, 2018

By Diana McFarland

Managing editor

The residents of Church Square have sent a 34-signature petition to the Smithfield Town Council and Planning Commission, as well as the developers of the neighborhood, opposing a bike and pedestrian trail through a portion of the gated community. 

The route through Church Square is considered the cheapest option, at $2.4 million, of the four presented by Kimley-Horn in January. All of the options were beyond what the town had planned to spend on the project.

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Alternative 4 extends north on the east side of South Church Street past the Smithfield Self Storage, and then goes down Ransdell Lane and continues left on John Rolfe Drive. The route then cuts through the Church Square subdivision to get back onto the east side of South Church Street, where it continues north toward the bridge. It crosses seven private driveways and nine commercial entrances, according to the study.{mprestriction ids=”1,2,3,4,5,6″}

“As you’re well aware, Church Square is a gated community for 55 and older residents. Many widows make up our group and the very last thing we want is for non-Church Square people having access to our development. Other issues include people littering and bringing their dogs on the trail and not picking up after them,” wrote resident Virginia Soule in a letter addressed to developers Lewis McMurran and Ken Allen. 

McMurran declined to comment until he had a chance to further investigate the matter and had not yet received the petition or letter. 

The bike and pedestrian trail would be a continuation of Isle of Wight County’s park-to-park trail now under construction along Battery Park and Nike Park roads. 

The county’s four-mile trail was to connect to a trail built by the town that would provide bike and pedestrian access from Carrollton Nike Park to Windsor Castle Park and downtown Smithfield. 

Smithfield Mayor Carter Williams said he’s personally opposed to putting the trail through Church Square if the residents don’t want it. 

“I’m on their side,” he said, adding that he favors a sidewalk along South Church Street rather than a 10-foot asphalt bike trail.

Town Council member Randy Pack said he doesn’t have an opinion right now about that particular option. 

Pack said there probably wouldn’t be much movement on the bike trail until a new Town Council is installed in July.

Efforts to reach Council members Mike Smith and Denise Tynes were unsuccessful. 

Recently, Vice Mayor Andrew Gregory and Council member Steve Bowman resigned, while Council member Milton Cook has decided not to seek another term.

Gregory was recently replaced by former Council member Florine Moore, but she is not running for a full term. Bowman’s position has not been filled. 

In all, there are six candidates running for four seats on the Council and the election is scheduled for May 1.  {/mprestriction}