14 Heritage Square 1 With parcels of land stretching from the proposed Heritage Park and the current Hope Mills Lake Park downtown, all the way out to the new Golfview Greenway, Hope Mills has potential to develop walking and biking trails for its citizens.
The town has been granted the money to conduct a study that will help develop those various resources to their fullest potential.

Hope Mills was recently given a Pedestrian Planning Grant through the North Carolina Department of Transportation’s division of bicycle and pedestrian transportation. Chancer McLaughlin, development and planning administrator for Hope Mills, said the grant provides from $40,000 to $60,000 with a 20% match.

“It’s basically geared toward encouraging municipalities to develop comprehensive bicycle and pedestrian plans,’’ he said.

The money will allow the town to explore the best ways to develop bicycle and pedestrian plans. So far, the town has successfully pursued grants to fund a number of sidewalk construction projects, including both the downtown area and along Rockfish Road near the town’s municipal complex.

But this will be the first time the town has gotten grant money to fund a study that will work toward connecting all of the potential bicycle and pedestrian projects together. The list includes the former golf course turned greenway, Hope Mills Municipal Park, Trade Street, the lake park and the proposed Heritage Park.

“Wherever we can find areas to accommodate bike lanes, sidewalks and trails that will ultimately connect all five areas, that will be the ultimate goal,’’ McLaughlin said.

With the help of DOT, Hope Mills will hire a consultant to develop the plan for the town. Town staff will assist in the project, and there will be a full round of public meetings to seek input from the citizens of Hope Mills.

McLaughlin said the town’s Parks and Recreation department, specifically director Lamarco Morrison, will be invovled. “You can see all those key projects are Parks and Recreation projects,’’ McLaughlin said.

In a perfect world, the plan will try to figure out a way to allow residents to walk or ride safely around the town via a series of paths, trails, sidewalks or bicycle lanes.

“All of these areas are at the core of the town of Hope Mills,’’ McLaughlin said.

The tricky part, obviously, will be designing trails/sidewalks that will accommodate both bicycle and pedestrian traffic. “A lot of times, when you have a combination of these, the width of that trail will be paramount as well,’’ McLaughlin said. “Some portions you may have bike trails connected. Some you have some sidewalks. Some my have multi-use trails that will allow for bikes and pedestrians.’’

McLaughlin stressed that the current grant from NCDOT only pays for the cost of the study that will develop the plan. The town will need to seek additional funding, possibly through the pursuit of future grants, to actually pay for construction of any bicycle or pedestrian sidewalks or trails that are constructed.

“Once we come up with the plan, we have to find the mechanism to fund the construction,’’ McLaughlin said.

McLaughlin said whatever plan is developed, it won’t come from a total vacuum, but will follow the general guidelines established in the existing Southwest Cumberland Detailed Land Use Plan that was first released in 2013. “This is another way to achieve those goals,’’ McLaughlin said.

If anyone has questions about the new grant or the future of bicycle and pedestrian traffic in Hope Mills, McLaughlin can be reached during regular office hours at 910-426-4103.

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