Mapping Maggie’s recreational needs
Trails top the list of Maggie Valley’s recreational needs, according to the results of a recent survey conducted by the town.
“A lot of people seem to have the same thought of ‘we live so close to the mountains, but we have to drive 30 minutes to get to the trails,’” Maggie Valley Town Planner Andrew Bowen told the town board recently.
A week later, the planner elaborated on that particular take-away from Maggie’s recreational needs survey.
“People want to be outside, whether it’s a greenway or walking trails, people just really want to be outside,” Bowen said.
Of the 125 respondents to the September survey, 20 percent identified greenways and walking trails as the recreational amenity they’d most like to see focused on in the future. Survey respondents selected the ‘trails’ option from a pre determined list, which also included bicycle amenities (16 percent), fishing piers (14 percent) and ball fields (9 percent).
Bowen said that the town decided to conduct the survey in order to gain a better understanding of what people were thinking, to find out how they thought Maggie might improve its recreational offerings.
“It comes down to really wanting to know what our visitors and citizens want,” Bowen said.
A majority, 64 percent, of the survey respondents were fulltime residents to Maggie Valley. Part-timers as well as visitors also voiced their opinions.
Respondents pined for various recreational upgrades. There were multiple calls for a bike lane along U.S. 19, as well as bike racks near public facilities. People also want racket ball and tennis facilities, or at least a bocce ball court. The need for a dog park was mentioned several times. One person suggested constructing a swimming area in Jonathan Creek.
In presenting the survey results to the town board, Bowen noted that some suggestions were not feasible or prohibitively expensive. The swimming hole in Jonathan Creek, for example, would be tough to get past local and state restrictions against disturbing creek beds. And the bike lane along U.S. 19 would require infrastructure changes and coordination with the North Carolina Department of Transportation. But other items, like the bocce ball court or playground improvements, may be doable.
Bowen said that the survey would likely play into future town planning efforts. Maggie Valley is just beginning a year-long planning process in an effort to realize a master plan for the town, and the survey findings will be taken into consideration when mapping out the plan.
“This was like a first step to future planning projects,” Bowen said.
Survey offers public chance for input
Maggie Valley recently wrapped up its recreational needs survey. The survey was conducted in September and got 125 responses. It attempted to get a feel for how the public feels about the future recreational needs in the town.
More trails and more bicycle amenties were two big priorities identified by survey respondents. There was also a call for increased sporting activities, an upgraded playground and a dog park.
• Bicycle amenities — Many respondents hit upon the need for better accommodating bicycles. There were low-impact requests, such as placing bike racks near public facilities, as well as more-involved, and less-likely, infrastructure intensive projects such as installing a bike lane along U.S. 19.
• Mountain trails and overlooks — People identified a need for more creekside walking trails, as well as for trails leading up out of the valley, preferably to a waterfall or overlook. Any possibility of a trail system would require substantial effort and obtaining easements.
• Dog park — The need for a dog park was a popular priority for survey respondents. The town would need to be able to acquire a piece of land at a reasonable cost.
• Old Still waterfall — Some respondents suggested that Maggie Valley take advantage of an already-owned parcel of land with a waterfall on Old Still Road near the Maggie Valley Club. Though the idea for a small park resonated with many, there are also drawbacks: no parking, plus the trail is in need of major repairs.